Why is our mind playing tricks on us and how can we avoid them? That’s the big question in therapy and today we’ll unpack a few of those tricks and show you how CBT can help. The tricks we’re talking about are called cognitive distortions. And we’ve all experienced them. It’s these little thoughts that lead us astray. Like when we think we did awful on an exam, but then ended up passing it with flying colors. Or when we think someone didn’t like us, but actually they really admired us. So cognitive distortions, also called thinking errors, are thoughts that cause us to perceive reality inaccurately. And according to Aaron Beck, the founding father of CBT, a negative outlook on reality is a major factor in symptoms of emotional dysfunctioning and poorer subjective well-being. In short, cognitive distortions leave us feeling anxious, stressed, worried or even depressed.
Cognitive Distortion Examples: Let’s dive a little deeper and look at a few cognitive distortions. Some of the most common ones are:
All-Or-Nothing Thinking. Sometimes also called black-and-white thinking. That’s when we look at life in just 2 categories. Black or white. Either we’re a success or a failure. Things are either good or bad. And there’s no room in between. But of course there is room in between. Life has many shades of gray.
Mind reading is another common cognitive distortion. This is when we assume negative thoughts from other people’s behavioral or non-verbal communication. This goes hand in hand with assumptions. For example, when we see someone on the bus looking at us and we think they are mad, but we have no proof.
Fortune-Telling is one more common distortion. It’s about predicting the future, but a negative one. Like when we believe we’ll be depressed for our whole lives or nothing is going to get better.
What can we do? Challenging and changing these cognitive distortions is really a key element of CBT. That’s why Bloom sessions often talk about these distortions. Because at the end of the day, it’s just our mind trying to keep us safe and finding shortcuts for us. But in the end, it’s not helping us. The goal is to distance us from our thoughts. We can question them and learn to restructure them to have a happier, healthier and more positive outlook on life. Researchers have defined around 10 common distortions, but in reality there are about 50 that develop over time. The best news is that we can learn the skills and practice tools to combat them. To change them. And to develop a better outlook on life. There are over 500+ sessions for you on Bloom to tackle them. Are you ready for your session?
PS: The moment we understand that our mind actually wants the best for us and just means it well, we can start to befriend ourselves and come to a point where we recognize our thoughts and catch and change them in the moment.
You got this 💪