Cognitive Distortions (Incorrect Thinking Patterns) Part 1

I started seeing a therapist around 2009 when I had two small children at home and feeling overwhelmed. I had developed some negative thought patterns that were running my life. My therapist gave me a list common thought patterns that take place and our viewpoint changes about life stinks.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life.” Our hearts are the source of our thoughts, beliefs, and actions.

Some common cognitive distortions are below.

1. All-or-nothing thinking. This is using what is known as dichotomous thought. In other words you tend to see life around you as either all black or all white. The grays in life are lost. If for example you had terrible business lunch or your child threw a tantrum in public, your day is bad. Our days can have bad and good events and interactions in the same day.

2. Overgeneralization. Occurring when you take one single event and build it into a never ending patterns of defeat.

3. Mental Filter. This occurs when an individual identifies some negative detail (about themselves, others, or situations) and dwells on it. You have heard of rose colored glasses. This is the opposite, where brown lenses have been substituted. The outcome is a crappy view of life. For example, you don’t like the music or seats at church, so you find another church to attend.

4. Disqualifying the Positive. Rejecting positive experiences, maintaining that they don’t really count. This behavior allows you to maintain an inaccurate belief in the face of contradictory evidence. You get a raise, but the cost of living is going up, so it doesn’t really help or count.

5. Jumping to conclusions: This refers to the habit of blowing out of proportion the negative things and shrinking positive facts (your own desirable qualities). A new family moved in the house beside you and they have a dog. You just know they will be loud all the time and the dog will poop on your yard.

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