Al Soor Specialist Clinic

Cognitive Distortions – Brief Description with Examples

Cognitive distortions are patterns of biased thinking that can lead to negative emotions and behaviours. Here are some common cognitive distortions described in points:

  1. All-or-Nothing Thinking (Black-and-White Thinking):
    • Seeing things in extremes, with no middle ground.
    • Example: “If I’m not perfect, I’m a failure.”
  2. Overgeneralization:
    • Making broad conclusions based on limited evidence.
    • Example: “I made a mistake on this project; I always mess things up.”
  3. Mental Filtering:
    • Focusing solely on negative details while ignoring positive ones.
    • Example: Ignoring compliments and dwelling on a single criticism.
  4. Disqualifying the Positive:
    • Rejecting positive experiences or accomplishments as being “unimportant” or “insignificant.”
    • Example: “They only praised my work because they didn’t want to hurt my feelings.”
  5. Jumping to Conclusions:
    • Making negative interpretations without evidence.
    • Subtypes:
      • Mind Reading: Assuming you know what others are thinking.
      • Fortune Telling: Predicting negative outcomes without evidence.
    • Example: “They didn’t reply to my message; they must be mad at me.”
  6. Magnification and Minimization:
    • Exaggerating the importance of negative events and minimizing the significance of positive ones.
    • Example: Blowing small mistakes out of proportion while dismissing major accomplishments.
  7. Emotional Reasoning:
    • Believing that feelings are facts.
    • Example: “I feel stupid, so I must be incompetent.”
  8. Should Statements:
    • Having rigid rules about how oneself and others “should” behave.
    • Example: “I should always be productive; taking breaks is lazy.”
  9. Labeling and Mislabeling:
    • Attaching negative labels to oneself or others based on errors or actions.
    • Example: “I’m a failure because I failed this exam.”
  10. Personalization:
    • Taking responsibility for events outside of one’s control or blaming oneself for external events.
    • Example: Feeling guilty for a friend’s bad mood, even if there’s no evidence it’s your fault.

Recognizing these distortions can help in challenging and correcting them, leading to more balanced and realistic thinking patterns.