Cognitive distortions: 7 ways in which our mind sabotages us

With the use of hypnotherapy we can learn to really assimilate the lack of credibility of those cognitive distortions presented in the article below. In this way, we can learn to give them less importance, to give them the value they deserve and to restructure our thoughts. We may be able then to organize our mind with much more accurate, reasonable, realistic and credible thoughts which may help us live our lives in a more pleasant, productive, pleasant way- or in the way each one of us decide.


Image: Pixabay.From original link at psicología y mente.

What are cognitive distortions and how can they affect us?

Self-esteem. One of the most used, treated, and consequently “groped” concepts through the history of psychology. The cognitive current (which includes the “mental” in the human equation) is the one that started using the concept of self-esteem, defining it as the way (positive or negative) in which we value ourselves.

And it is this same branch which defines self-esteem as a principal participant in our mental health- or the lack of it. With a positive self-esteem, it is possible to have more positive thoughts about the world and about oneself. We undertake then a more optimistic perception of the future, and a greater sense of subjective happiness.

When self-esteem is low …

However, if self-esteem is low, it provokes the reversed negative effects. Not that it is responsible for the factors listed above, but it correlates with thoughts of the same valence, of the same sign (positive or negative). If we have poor self-esteem, this will be both the cause and consequence of negative thoughts and perceptions.

It is in this vicious cycle where hidden cognitive distortions, irrational ideas and negative automatic thoughts appear: the triad of mental harm, according to Cognitive Psychology. Briefly, we shall define irrational ideas as beliefs that have no contact with reality and are harmful to ourselves (EVERYONE must approve of my conduct, otherwise I am notworth anything). We shall define negative automatic thoughts as negative judgments in line with the first (is not laughing at my joke, am worth nothing).

Where are cognitive distortions hidden?

If we observe how cognitive distortions operate, we will realise that they are nothing more than the intermediate step between the two described above: the process or operation that makes our mind transform irrational belief into automatic negative thoughts. That is, the way in which our own mind attacks us.

In order to simplify things, here is an example:

We wake up one day full of energy and we start our circuit routine shower, coffee and toasts. Not that there’s anything special in the process, but we feel really well. On the way to work we think about how close to our reach is the next position of Director of the Section, for which we have been striving for months.

“Surely they will give it to me, I deserve it,” we think. Subsequently we feel shocked and surprised when, once at work , we see that next to our table things have disappeared from our colleague’s desk. They are being transported to the office of the vacant position … They have given it to him. It burns, but at the same time, he is our colleague, and we are delighted for him.

A fairly common situation, is it not? Let’s see what we would do if our mind followed the logic of some of the most harmful distortions.

Types of cognitive distortions

1. Hipergeneralisation

It consists in choosing a specific event, extract a rule from it and never stop to check if it is true. Possibly “I’ll never be good enough for the job” is what we would think if we hipergeneralised when not given that job.

We know that we are hipergeneralising when we use terms which are too absolutistic for them to be true: always, every, no, never, no, everyone.

2. Global labelling

The mechanism would be the same as the previous one. With the same situation, the only thing that makes it different is that our mind gives us a global label rather than a rule. So the thought is: “I am a failure.”

The moment we begin to use clichés and stereotypes about our behavior in an insulting way, we begin to see the possibility to be falling into this cognitive distortion.

3. Filtering

Through this type of cognitive distortions our mind filters reality by selecting some aspects and ignoring others. In the example, we will focus on losing the opportunity for the job, and how useless we are, and we will ignore the possibility of being able to improve and the joy we feel for our colleague.

We can spot the presence of this distortion when we criticize ourselves in a recurrent way recurring for past events, loss, injustice, or stupid issues, or if these terms appear in our criticism.

4. Polarized thought

If we have constructed this distortion, in the example we will start from the given premise: “if they don’t give me the job, my future career will be over.” It is an absolutist mindset; black or white, no gray option.

The expression of challenges, goals and realities in conditional tense ( “if …”) and/or contrasting options ( “or they give me the job, or …”) gives us the clue that we may be using this distortion.

5. Self-Accusation

It consists of thinking that the blame always falls badly on ourselves, which is different from having or not real responsibility. Applied to the example this will take the form of: “Surely I have done everything wrong, I have been stupid to even dream about the position. I will apologize to Pedro just in case he thought I am happy for him. “

A symptom of this cognitive distortion is to be constantly apologizing. We feel really guilty of something specific and ask forgiveness compulsively.

6. Personalization

This occurs in the situation in which we feel as if we were guilty or involved in some way in ALL the problems in our environment. It is similar to Self-Accusation, only that it captures the reality around us, giving us a central role in it.

In the example, the thought would be something like “I knew it. I knew that the boss was angry with me for not tidying up those files. What I had not imagined is that he was going to ally with Pedro in order to exclude me. “

7. Mind Reading

As its name suggests, the error or distortion is to assume that we know what the rest think or feel about us. What really happens is that we project onto the other our own emotions; we assume that everyone thinks or feels just like us.

The cognitive distortion is particularly harmful in this case, because it consists of an attack is constant real-time over our self-esteem. Its form is: “Sure, The boss does not like me. he thinks i don’t do enough and that is why he has got me stuck in here.”

And now, what?

In short, while it is true that the knowledge of these cognitive distortions is not exactly new, it is also true that they are constantly present in our daily lives. Today, in a world in which the self has adopted a new digital dimension, it seems like we must emphasize all those errors that the human mind tends to make when valuing oneself.

Without going any further, the examples shown here are part of life in a natural way so that they are considered “ways of being” as if human beings were designed to complicate their own lives. It is a fallacy to think that we have no choice but to resign to harming ourselves and not to assess ourselves as we deserve.

For that reason, it is important that we do not forget our own personal direction in our lives and that we ask ourselves: what now? Shall we let this remain an interesting bit of information, or shall we use this knowledge to our own advantadge?

As always, the decision is in each of us.

Eduardo Torrecillas RiveraPsicólogo

Link to original in Spanish in Psicología y Mente clicking here.


About Anna Pons

Certificat (CPPD), Post Graduat Certificat (PGCert) i Post Graduat Diploma (PGD) en Hipnoteràpia Clínica, London College of Clinical Hypnosis (LCCH) i Universitat de West London (UWL)
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