Cognitive distortions (DW#486)

Our brain LOVES to make connections between thoughts, ideas, actions, and consequences. And our brain really does not care whether they are truly connected or not. It simply needs to explain what is happening and come up with a story and a conclusion so that it can rest easy.

When our brains make assumptions and conclusions which are not true, we call them "Cognitive Distortions".

Cognitive distortions are exactly what the name implies: distortions in our cognition or thinking. Put another way, cognitive distortions are biased perspectives we take on ourselves and the world around us. They are irrational thoughts and beliefs that we unknowingly reinforce over time by thinking them again and again AND assuming that they are true.

These patterns and systems of thought are often very subtle and therefore hard to recognize because they are form so much of our habitual thinking patterns.

This is also why they can be so damaging because we cannot shift what we don’t recognize or acknowledge.  

There are several kinds of cognitive distortions which we will cover in the days to come. For now, we need to recognize that

All cognitive distortions are:

  • Tendencies or patterns of thinking or believing…
  • That are false, incomplete or inaccurate…
  • And they have the potential to cause harm us if we continue to believe them and act on them assuming that they are true

And one more thing: Each and every one of us has some or all of these thought patterns from time to time. If we don’t recognize them, it does not mean that we don’t have them. It simply means that we have a lot of room to grow in self awareness :)

Of course, not everyone is negatively impacted by them all the time. Some of us are naturally adept at recognizing unhelpful patterns of thinking and correcting them as we go along by talking to ourselves.

For those who are not natural at it, the good news is that these thinking skills can be practiced and learnt.

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