What Even IS a Cognitive Distortion?
The mind is a wonderfully weird and confusing place. Thought distortions (also known as cognitive distortions) are when our minds develop inaccurate, and typically negative, patterns of thinking about situations and about ourselves.
These distorted thinking patterns can prolong or worsen the situation that we are trying to escape from or trying to improve. So what do some of these patterns look like in action?
- This can also be thought of as “black and white” thinking, when situations are viewed in absolutes.
- Example: Feeling like you have “blown it” when you eat a sweet treat so you “might as well” overindulge the rest of the day.
- The reality is that most of life lies within the “gray areas”, and one meal does not automatically have any impact on future meals.
- This distortion involves taking on behaviors as if they were your whole identity.
- Example: Going through a relapse and then immediately deeming yourself an overall “failure”, as opposed to seeing your behaviors as something separate from who you are as a holistic person.
- Labeling typically leads to negative self-talk and pigeon-holing ourselves based on just a few behaviors instead of looking at ourselves in a more comprehensive (and compassionate!) way.
- These statements involve criticizing ourselves with what we “should” or “should not” do. These statements often involve unattainable standards for ourselves, and when we “fall short” of these standards, we fail in our own eyes.
- Example: Telling yourself “I should be able to handle this on my own. It shouldn’t be this hard to just get it together”
How we speak to ourselves matters, and we are typically our own harshest critics. Learning how to counteract your cognitive distortions will help you to create a healthy inner mindset, one where mistakes are acceptable and “failure” is part of progress!
If any of these distortions resonated with you or you feel as though you are experiencing other thought distortions around your health that may not be listed here, it can help to talk them through.
If you want to learn more about how to best fuel both your body and your mind, sign up for a discovery call today so we can chat about how all the pieces fit together!