605 - Cognitive Distortions 101

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By Gregg Clunis. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

In this episode we look at cognitive distortions, how they affect your personal growth, and what to do about them.

VOTE: www.andstillivote.org

The Problem:

I am sure this has happened to you. A disagreement with someone you care about, or one negative comment out of 10 other positive ones, and all of a sudden you’re in a spiral of negative thoughts about yourself, the other person and the event itself.

The problem is that these thoughts are more often than not inaccurate. They aren’t a good representation of what actually happened. Further, they are a completely made up representation of the event from the other person’s perspective.

Digging Deeper

Cognitive distortions are biased perspectives we put on ourselves and the world around us. They are patterns of thinking or believing that are irrational and that we unknowingly reinforce over time. These ways of thinking are harmful because, in general, we tend to act in accordance with our beliefs. So if our beliefs are false or inaccurate, naturally our actions will suffer as a consequence. Then those negative actions get reinforced as habits and all of a sudden we spend each day taking the wrong actions and making the wrong choices all because of a simple cognitive distortion.

In 1976, psychologist Aaron Beck first proposed the theory behind cognitive distortions and in the 1980s; David Burns was responsible for popularizing it with common names and examples for the distortions.

The Solution

How can you stop these cognitive distortions?

One way is to reframe the situation. "Reframing is the habit of consciously changing how you feel when you are experiencing an irrational or false thought or belief.” You can ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this thought realistic?
  • Am I basing my thoughts on facts or on feelings?
  • What is the evidence for this thought?
  • Could I be misinterpreting the evidence?
  • Am I having this thought out of habit?

Let’s take the example above using the cognitive distortion of a mental filter, remember that’s when you filter out all the positive stuff and focus on the negative. In that situation you could stop and think for a moment. Is this really true? Is this comment based in reality at all?

Examine the evidence: Is there anything to back up this person’s comment as fact or is it just one person’s opinion?

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