A Psychology Minute: Cognitive Disortions

“I never catch a break.” “Everyone is always out to get me.” “This is going to be horrible.” If you have ever heard thoughts like these pop in your head, you are probably guilty of a cognitive distortion.

Cognitive distortions are irrational patterns of thinking that often occur without conscious effort. Every person experiences them at some point, but some more than others. There are many different types of these “thinking traps,” but each one has the potential to skew reality in a negative way. The more frequently and intrusively they occur, the more they place a person at risk for psychological difficulties, such as anxiety and depression.

One of the most common distortions is “emotional reasoning.” Simply put, emotional reasoning is the idea that what we feel must be true. If I feel stupid, then I must be stupid. If I feel others don’t love me, then I must be unloved. Although feelings are part of the human experience, they can often lead us far from reality if not discerned properly. So, the next time you experience a strong emotion, consider the evidence for and against it. You might find you are more competent and loved than you feel.

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