Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a very useful tool in helping us change our cognitive distortions/thinking errors into much more healthy thoughts. CBT is a technique that is there to help people become more aware of when they are thinking the negative thoughts and then make us also aware of our behaviour which is then reinforcing the errors in thinking.
CBT helps people learn new ways of thinking and behaving and new strategies with the aim of reducing psychological distress. These errors in thinking are something that we all do.
Here are some of the main cognitive distortions that even I myself do on occasion. I catch myself doing it as quickly as I can so I don’t have to suffer any longer with these negative thoughts and behaviour that are actually based on things that I have imagined and that are not real or true. But I have made these so real in my head and invested the energy, emotion, and drama into these and given them a life of their own.
The sooner you or I recognise what is happening the better.
So first examine your thoughts to identify which thinking errors are occurring and then working on changing these. If you need help with this then contact a professional CBT therapist such as myself.
These errors in thinking are something that we all do. These errors can get in the way and in that you can also change the facts of what actually happened to what you perceive happened. CBT helps us become aware of these and once aware we can change them or release them altogether.
This is a list of what have been identified as some of the most common cognitive distortions (thinking errors). By identifying these, you can then move on to challenge and generate more adaptive healthier thoughts.
- All or nothing thinking- Placing experiences in one of two opposite categories. It must be one or the other. Extreme thinking.
- Over generalising- Making sweeping inferences based on a single incident.
- Discounting the positives- Deciding that if a good thing has happened, it couldn’t have been very important.
- Jumping to conclusions- Focusing on one aspect of a situation, when forming a judgement, or deciding what the data means.
- Mind reading- Believing one knows what another person is thinking, with little or no evidence.
- Fortune-telling- Believing one knows what the future holds while ignoring other possibilities.
- Magnifying/Minimising- Evaluating the importance of a negative event, or the lack of evidence of a positive event, in a distorted manner.
- Emotional reasoning- Believing that something must be true because it feels like it is true.
- Making should statements- Telling oneself one should do, or should have done something, when it is more accurate to say that one would like to do (or wishes one had done) the preferred thing.
- Labelling- Using a label (stupid, useless driver) to describe a behaviour -and then imputing all the meanings that the label carries.
- Inappropriate blaming- Using hindsight to determine what one should have done even if one could not have known the best thing to do at the time. Also, ignoring mitigating factors, or ignoring the role played by others in a negative experience or event.