Cognitive Distortion (Negative Thoughts)

Cognitive distortion is an exaggerated or irrational thought pattern associated with anxiety or depression. These are thoughts which cause you to perceive reality inaccurately

Example of negative thoughts are

  • I am not good enough
  • I am a loser
  • I failed my task
  • There are so many things wrong with me
  • Things cannot get better

These are NOT realistic thoughts.  They are distorted from the true reality

Here are some examples of cognitive distortion

  • Generalising without giving chance for other evidence. For example, one bad incident or one failure means you are always failing 
  • Personalising and assume things are your fault even though they were not in your control to start with
  • Emotional reasoning in believing that the reality is a reflection of your thoughts.  For example, ‘I feel stupid, therefore I must be stupid’
  • Mentally filter only negative perceptions.  You focus on the few negative bad points and ignore the other positive or good points.  As such, you end up turning good things into bad
  • The ‘all or nothing’ thinking does not allow room for growth or improvement.  Even small imperfections make it very painful for you to accept
  • You jump to foregone conclusions and make yourself believe that people are thinking negatively about you.  You believe everything bad that happened is your fault
  • Magnification of your weakness by ‘making a mountain out of a molehill’.  At the same time, you also magnify other people’s successes and minimising your own strength
  • Labelling is when you attribute a person’s action to his/her character rather than the behaviour could be accidental or once off.  This results in suffocating labels like ‘all men are selfish’ or ‘all women are weak’
  • Always being right (‘I should’ statements).  Having unrealistic expectations that cannot be met by yourself or other people.  This unreasonable thinking will be put you in conflict with your colleagues and friends

Changing negative thoughts can dramatically change your mood and your life.  You must always remind yourself that these are NOT realistic thoughts.  They are distorted and NOT TRUE.  Cognitive behavioural therapy can help you overcome such thoughts in slow and steady steps.

Click to view ThriveUnion video on How to Stop Cognitive Distortions

Start with simple steps

  • Become aware of these negative thoughts.  Try to learn to separate these distorted thoughts from who you really are
  • Allow for shades of grey and avoid absolutes where a thing is either right or wrong
  • Avoid labelling yourself negatively like lazy, loser or useless.  Let yourself grow in a natural process and don’t let a small bad incident affect you
  • Give equal time thinking about the positive aspects in your life.  If you get into an argument with your partner or colleague, don’t think of the current bad issue.  Think of 3 good things about your partner or colleague which endears you to him/her.  Such thoughts will mellow your initial anger.
  • Don’t let negativity be your only focus.  Always try to see the good side of things
  • Check reality before jumping to conclusions. Ask people what and why they are thinking first instead of assuming they are blaming you 

Our thoughts determine our mood and actions.  Remember to remove distorted thoughts and allow yourself to be free to thrive in and enjoy the company of your colleagues, friends and family members.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your emotions, do reach out and chat with a counsellor or therapist

Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. 

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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