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Cognitive Distortions: How They Influence the Way We Act and Feel

by | Sep 7, 2021 | All

Cognitive Distortions were originated by Aaron Beck in the 1960’s. Cognitive distortions are irrational beliefs that influence feelings and behaviors.

Below are common cognitive distortions:

  • Catastrophizing: Thinking only the worst outcome of situations.
  • Jumping to Conclusions: Identifying the meaning of a situation with little to no evidence.
  • Personalization: Taking responsibility for events outside of one’s control.
  • Overgeneralization: Making an interpretation from one single event.
  • Emotional Reasoning: The belief that emotions reflect reality.
  • Disqualifying the Positive: Only identifying negative aspects of a situation and ignoring the positive.
  • All-or-Nothing Thinking: Utilizing absolute thinking or extreme thinking, for example, “never”, “always”, or “must”.
  • Should” Statements: Thinking that things should be a certain way.
  • Minimization and Magnification: Perceiving a situation in a lesser or greater light than it deserves.
  • Labeling and Mislabeling: Portraying one’s identity on imperfections and mistakes made in the past.

It is important to be aware of your own irrational beliefs and how they influence unrealistic thinking. If you believe you tend to utilize any of the above distortions, discuss them with your therapist. Together you can create a collaborative approach in challenging your thoughts by examining the evidence surrounding them. By challenging these distortions, you will identify coping skills and gain problem-solving techniques. It will also allow you to increase awareness on how your thoughts influence your emotions and how you respond to situations.

Tracy Johnson, MA, LPC
I am currently a counselor at the Troy location for children, adolescents, and adults. I have been
counseling for the past 6 years. I received my master’s degree in community counseling from The
University of Detroit Mercy.

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