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Every one of us thinks negatively sometimes. But, when thinking negatively becomes someone’s day-to-day pattern, it can lead them to various mental health issues, like depression and anxiety. So, today we are going to talk about what are cognitive distortions, what causes them, and how they can be treated!
The brain is one of the greatest phenomena for human existence. It is so powerful that it can either make or break things for you. To live a life full of purpose, happiness, and peace, one needs to comprehend the fundamentals of the human brain. If you understand how your mind works and react to different situations, events, or experiences in your life, then there’s no one who can stop you from achieving what you really have dreamt of.
There are a lot of things that when combined, are called brain cognition. The mental processes involved in learning, gathering knowledge, and comprehension are referred to as brain cognition. Thinking, judging, knowing, remembering, and problem-solving are some of the common examples of cognitive processes. Also, language, imagination, planning, and perception are examples of higher-level brain activities. In short, cognition plays a major role in people reacting and thinking realistically and factually in different scenarios of their lives.
So, this was about brain cognition. Now, let’s understand what are cognitive distortions!
What Are Cognitive Distortions?
Cognitive distortions are unreasonable, exaggerated thoughts or beliefs that affect a person’s sense of reality, usually in a negative way, according to expert psychologists. Cognitive distortions are very prevalent. But if you are not conscious enough to notice and catch them, then they can lead to various mental health issues in the long run. In fact, many believe this is how natural things are. They get so deeply rooted in the mind that people often think that they don’t have the potential to change them. However, in reality, they definitely have the power to change their cognition over time. We will discuss it later in this blog.
Cognitive distortions are unintentionally erroneous and negatively biased methods of thinking. They push you to only notice the bad and not the good. It was about what are cognitive distortions.
Let’s see what causes cognitive distortions in the first place! Before that, we have got an amazing blog for you on verbal use and its affects on mental health! You can give it a quick read if you like!
A Quick Read: How Can Verbal Abuse Affect Your Mental Health?
What Causes Cognitive Distortions?
According to brain experts, there can be various reasons for cognitive distortions to develop. The causes of it can differ from person to person, situation to situation, and experience to experience.
However, traumatic life events, stressful life experiences, genetical predisposition, continuous chronic stress, depression, and anxiety disorders can be some of the causes behind cognitive distortions.
Let’s now talk about some of the most common types of cognitive distortions!
What Are Some Of The Types Of Cognitive Distortions?
Here are some of the most common cognitive distorted thinking patterns, styles, and types listed below-
It can be very bizarre. But sometimes we think that we can read off other people’s minds. We try to assume each and everything other people might be thinking about ourselves, arising cognitive distortion known as mind reading. No wonder people study body language interpretation and personality development, and all as a serious thing. However, in mind-reading, we only pertain to the negative spectrum of our perception.
No doubt, life is quite unpredictable. And anything can fall into your lap any day. And, this is what makes our lives exciting and adventurous journeys. Of course, we worry about our future and things that can go wrong once in a while. But, when we often only think about the worst of the things that can go wrong and be bad and gloomy, then this kind of frequent thinking pattern is called catastrophizing.
The mental filter distortion is a distorted thinking pattern that only focuses on a one-minute unfavorable piece of information, excluding all good ones that are there. For example, you and your friend are going outdoors to shop and eat. But, your friend told you that you guys can only go shopping because of some time issues. So, now you are only thinking about the food you guys cannot have, despite that you are going shopping.
All or Nothing Thinking:
Also known as black or white thinking, this type of cognitive thinking only focuses on the two extreme ends. Either one can be perfect or completely awful. People struggling with this distortion lose the capability to see the grey areas of the spectrum. They just focus on the things that are wrong. For example, after a job interview, a candidate is now only thinking about the mistakes he or she made.
This is like an unrealistic expectation one has from themselves. Like they have this strict manual of rules and regulations. And they have to follow each and every word written in them. If they don’t, then the world will shake off. In short, it’s a very unrealistic set of beliefs they carry for themselves, leading to chronic stress, depression, and anxiety. People often use “should” while approaching this cognitive distortion. For example, I should have said this, not that. I should have done that, not that.
These were some of the common types of cognitive distortions. It will help you understand what are cognitive distortions.
Note: Examples given above might sound very casual and not worthy to stress about to you. But, with someone struggling with distorted thinking, they seem like a war in their heads.
How To Overcome Cognitive Distortions?
We understand that for someone dealing with cognitive distortions, overcoming them can seem impossible. But, according to mind experts, distorted thinking is a habitual way of seeing things more on the negative spectrum, which can be changed or re-wired, as they say, in terms of brain cognition. Considering this, treating cognitive distortions is impossible. And, for that, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been found to be of exceptional help.
In CBT, Psychologists train you to catch your distortions and how in that very experience you can reframe your thoughts more realistically and profoundly. Once you become good at catching your distorted thinking, then you can notice them seamlessly and practice some strategies to process them more practically.
That’s all what CBT does! It helps you process your emotions, feelings, and thoughts as per the most realistic and optimistic basis rather than distorted and negatively biased approaches.
I hope, by now, you have known what cognitive distortions are, some of their types, and how to treat them for seamless brain cognition. Don’t forget to share your thoughts about cognitive distortions in the comment section below! Would love to hear from you! Thank you!