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Cognitive Distortions- by Dr.Sha'

As one thinks in their heart, so are they ~Proverbs 23:7

I was able to serve on a panel earlier this week with Meha Agrawal at Silk and Sonder, and other mental health professionals discussing the topic of cognitive distortions.

Cognitive distortions are irrational and biased ways of thinking that can lead to inaccurate perceptions of reality and negative emotional states. These distortions are often associated with various mental health issues, particularly anxiety and depression. Cognitive distortions can shape a person's beliefs and affect their behavior and emotional well-being. Everyone falls into cognitive distortions on occasion. It’s part of the human experience. But if you engage too frequently in negative thoughts, it will adversely impact your mental health.

Some common cognitive distortions include:

1. All-or-Nothing Thinking (Black-and-White Thinking): Viewing situations in extreme, all-or-nothing terms, with no middle ground. This can lead to a lack of nuance in one's thinking.

2. Overgeneralization: Drawing broad conclusions from a single, often negative, event. For example, someone might believe that because they failed at one thing, they will fail at everything.

3. Catastrophizing: Assuming the worst possible outcome in a given situation. People who engage in catastrophizing often expect that a small setback will result in a complete disaster.

4. Personalization: Taking responsibility for events that are outside one's control, ascribing personal blame for events that are not one's fault.

5. Mind Reading: Believing you know what others are thinking or assuming their thoughts are negative without any concrete evidence.

6. Emotional Reasoning: Believing that because you feel a certain way, it must be true. For example, feeling like a failure, so you must be a failure.

7. Should Statements: Imposing rigid "should" or "must" rules on yourself or others, leading to feelings of guilt or frustration when those rules are not met.

8. Labeling and Mislabeling: Attaching negative labels to oneself or others based on specific behaviors, rather than considering the broader context.

9. Selective Abstraction: Focusing on specific negative details while ignoring the overall positive or neutral aspects of a situation.

10. Discounting the Positive: Minimizing or dismissing positive experiences or qualities, making it difficult to acknowledge and enjoy achievements or positive feedback.

11. Jumping to Conclusions: Making negative predictions about future events or assuming the worst without evidence (can include both fortune telling and mind reading).

12. Magnification and Minimization: Exaggerating the importance of negative events and minimizing the significance of positive ones.

Cognitive distortions can contribute to a range of psychological and emotional problems, including anxiety disorders, depression, and relationship issues. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common therapeutic approach that helps individuals recognize and challenge these distortions, promoting more balanced and rational thinking patterns to improve mental well-being. Below is a Thinking Traps Assessment to help you learn about your common thinking traps so that you can began to reshape your thoughts, which will change your life.

I would love for you to try out the Thinking Traps Assessment and see how it can help you in your personal growth journey. It's completely free and can be accessed through this link - just answer the questions, check your email, and click the link emailed to you in order to review your results!

-Dr. Sha'

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