November 29, 2023

Mind Traps: Identifying and Overcoming Cognitive Distortions

By Shalayne McMillian
Anxiety & Depression
Identity Development

Cognitive distortions are biases that increase our misery, fuel our anxiety, and make us feel bad about ourselves. Depression, poor self-esteem, and anxiety are often the result of irrational behaviors or cognitive distortions.

Our brains continually process lots of information, and to deal with this, our brains seek shortcuts to cut down our mental burden. When irrational thinking continues, it could affect how you see yourself, others, and the world.

You might start operating under false assumptions that lead to altering your mood and behaviors and, in turn, lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression. Identifying and being mindful of when we engage in these distorted thoughts can be helpful.

Some ways to address this are by keeping a thought log, checking whether these thoughts are facts or just the opinions of ourselves or others, or even actively trying to challenge them. To do this, we must identify what distortion we are using.

Here are five cognitive distortions commonly used to justify or falsely explain our daily struggles.

1. Magnification and Minimization:

Exaggerating or minimizing the importance of events. One might believe their achievements are unimportant or their mistakes are excessively important.

2. Disqualifying the Positive:

Recognizing only the negative aspects of a situation while ignoring the positive. One might receive many compliments on an evaluation but focus on a single piece of negative feedback.

3. All-or-Nothing Thinking:

Thinking in absolutes such as “always,” “never,” “every,” and “I never do a good enough job on anything.”

4. Jumping to Conclusions:

Interpreting the meaning of a situation with little or no evidence.

5. Personalization:

Blaming yourself or taking responsibility for something that wasn’t your fault. Conversely, blaming other people for something that was your fault.

Moving Beyond Cognitive Distortions

Recognizing these cognitive distortions is the first step towards a healthier, more balanced way of thinking. It’s not just about identifying these patterns, but also about actively working to challenge and change them.

This can be a difficult journey, as these thought patterns are often deeply ingrained. However, the rewards of such self-awareness are immense.

By acknowledging and addressing these distortions, you open the door to improved mental health, stronger self-esteem, and a more positive outlook on life.

Remember, the process of overcoming cognitive distortions is a journey, not a destination. It involves continuous effort and practice.

Be kind to yourself as you navigate through this process. It’s okay to seek help and support along the way.

Take the Next Step with Us

At Optimum Joy, we understand the challenges that come with changing long-standing thought patterns. Our team is dedicated to supporting you through this journey.

We offer personalized strategies and compassionate guidance to help you identify, challenge, and transform your cognitive distortions. You don’t have to navigate this path alone.

Reach out to us, and let’s start working together towards a happier, healthier you.

Written By

Shalayne McMillian

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