Definitions of Cognitive Distortions
- All or nothing thinking: You see things in black and white categories. No shades of gray exist, if your performance is not perfect, you view yourself as a complete failure.
- Overgeneralization: One single, negative event is viewed as an endless pattern of defeat.
- Mental Filter: You pick out a single negative detail, and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.
- Disqualifying the positive: You reject positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or another. In this way, you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
- Jumping to conclusions: You make negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion. You feel that you know what other people think of you (mind reading). You make negative predictions, and you are certain that they must come true (fortuneteller error).
- Magnification (Catastrophizing) or Minimization: You may exaggerate the importance of an error, or someone else’s achievements. You may underrate your own strengths, or someone else’s weaknesses.
- Emotional Reasoning: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”
- Should statements: You motivate yourself with shoulds, oughts, and musts, which leads to guilt. When you direct these statements at other people, you experience exaggerated feelings of anger, frustration and resentment.
- Labeling and mislabeling: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. You label yourself inappropriately “I’m a loser.” You label others wrongly, which makes it difficult for you to continue speaking positively with them. “He’s a stupid idiot.”
- Personalization: You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event, for which you were not primarily responsible for.