Cognitive Distortions

What are Cognitive Distortions?

Why do so many people have them?

Photo by Vinicios Amano – Unsplash

CCognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions — telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves; [because our brain is lying to or sabotaging us]. By John M. Grohol, Psy. D.

Cognitive distortions blur the mind. They tell us that we are not “seeing” well. Awareness is deeply needed as it corrodes our personality, self-esteem and confidence. – VitalCore

Have a peek at them:

All-or-nothing Thinking:

In polarized thinking, things are either “black-or-white” — all or nothing. We have to be perfect or we’re a complete and abject failure — there is no middle ground. A person with black-and-white thinking sees things only in extremes.



Making [conclusions] from insufficient evidence. Drawing a very broad conclusion from a single incident or a single piece of evidence. Even if something bad happens only once, it is expected to happen over and over again. [Ex. Someone that avoids meeting groups of people, thinking the people won’t appreciate them].


Mental Filter:

Someone that displays the Mental Filter captures negative feelings and emotions, discarding the positive ones in no time. They usually magnify to their “listeners” or self until a distorted reality is then perceived or even evoked.


Disqualifying the Positive:

This is very common for those who thinks negatively. Even though they receive compliments for their accomplishments; they might just as well disqualify themselves.


Jumping to Conclusions:

A person who jumps to conclusions knows [allegedly] what another person is feeling and thinking — and exactly why they act the way they do. In particular, and as though they could read their mind. Jumping to conclusions can also manifest itself as fortune-telling, where a person believes their entire future is pre-ordained (whether it be in school, work, or romantic relationships).


Mind Reading:

Is assuming you know what other people think. In small doses, mind reading is a very helpful skill. When used too much, or without much evidence to go on, mind reading can be problematic. Ex: If you get to work a few minutes late, and you think everyone else is thinking about your tardiness. Engage in enough distorted mind reading, and you can feel pretty miserable after a while.


The Fortune-teller Error:

Similarly to labeling, the fortune teller is constantly thinking that others don’t like them. They are looking in their crystal ball and only seeing bad scenarios coming their way – the train is coming over them when they see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Magnification (catastrophizing) or Minimization:

is an irrational thought a lot of us have in believing that something is far worse than it actually is. Catastrophizing can generally take two different forms: making a catastrophe out of a current situation, and imagining making a catastrophe out of a future situation, [generating anxiety to self or others].


Emotional reasoning:

Can easily happen to someone who takes things for granted; by being too confident of a subject. Emotional reasoning also affects the other cognitive distortions; such as the “Should Statement” fallacy. If someone has a speech to present to a group of stakeholders – unable to be clear or concise, they might just as well start with “guessology”.


Should statement:

Are a common negative thinking pattern, or cognitive distortions, that can contribute to feelings of fear and worry. According to theory based on cognitive therapy, one’s thinking can play a major role in developing stress and mental health conditions. Should statements can contribute to panic and anxiety.


Labeling and Mislabeling:

This distortion is very common in all societies; as someone can easily label others or self in negative ways. It is very unhelpful and can destroy relationship with others. Ex.: “He is a stupid guy; therefore, won’t even get close”. I “just hate it”. “I am not capable of doing this”, etc…



Someone who displays personalization are comparing self to others; more in the sense how better they are towards others. Also, they like to feel miserable in any random situation by blaming themselves poorly or blaming others, as a “Victim of Circumstances”.


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