What Are Cognitive Distortions?

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What Are Cognitive Distortions?

Without even noticing, you have probably experienced cognitive distortions at some point. If you struggle with conditions such as anxiety or depression, cognitive distortions may be more prevalent in your life than for someone who does not.

What Are Cognitive Distortions?

Cognitive distortions are faulty ways of thinking that form in response to experiencing an event, relationship, thought, emotion, or feeling. In other words, a cognitive distortion tricks your mind into believing something is more negative than it actually is. You might experience them more than others, which increases your risk of developing anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns.

Types of Cognitive Distortions

Although there are many types of cognitive distortions, the following are a few common ones:

  • Discounting the positive happens when you hyperfocus on the negative details of something happening and also do not see the positive parts of a situation.
  • Shoulds, which happens when you think you “should” have done or said something different, or when you think you “should” be a different way, leading to self-judgment, comparison, and perfectionism.
  • Personalization is where you believe you are at fault for something that happened and engage in self-blame, although you were not responsible for the situation.
  • Jumping to conclusions happens when you create a story around what an interaction or situation meant without actually knowing if the story you are creating is true.

Healing From Cognitive Distortions

The first step in releasing negative ways of thinking that impact your mental health is building awareness around the patterns you have and what triggers familiar but unhealthy ways of thinking. Without awareness, change cannot be created.

Once you are aware of what cognitive distortions are most present for you, you can begin challenging these automatic thoughts and releasing them. It can be helpful to work with a therapist in cultivating awareness and learning new coping tools that allow you to dismantle familiar ways of thinking as it can be difficult to do this alone.

Cognitive distortions are part of being human, but they do not have to rule your life. If distorted ways of thinking are leading to emotional and mental health concerns, it is especially important to reach out for help to begin building awareness around the negative thinking patterns you have. You can learn how to cope with them to experience greater peace of mind.

Cognitive distortions can get in the way of experiencing lower levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. At Avalon Malibu, we are aware of how difficult it can be to know when a cognitive distortion is happening and how to begin relating to them differently. Our professionals are here to support you as you learn what cognitive distortions are, what they sound like for you, and coping skills to experience relief from them. If you are ready to begin your journey, call Avalon Malibu today at (844) 857-5992 to learn about our recovery programs.

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