Distortions

Cerebrum logo head with cogs in Re-framing Distortions

Our emotions, while residing behind our five senses are not governed by them, but rather by our cognitive interpretation of the information our senses relay to us. ‘Cognitive Distortions’ (misinterpretation of information) result in our attaching inappropriate emotions to input, thus causing conflict. As all action and or inaction is governed by belief, such conflicts often lead to aberrant behavior and even greater confusion. Restructuring/Re-framing misinterpretations removes the conflict and addresses ones feelings and behavior. One cause of distortion is when certain aspects of ideas and experiences are given more weight and focus than others. This may be done both consciously and unconsciously; how we do this provides pointers to our underlying beliefs about ourselves, others and the world (see course  example).

Below is a list of some common Cognitive distortions (see also Wikipedia list)

Which of these do you do?

Polarization: Seeing things as black-or-white, right-or-wrong with nothing in-between. Essentially, if I’m not perfect, then I’m a failure.
I didn’t finish writing that paper so it was a complete waste of time.
There’s no point in playing if I’m not 100% in shape.
They didn’t show, they’re completely unreliable!

Stereotyping: Using words like ‘always‘ or ‘never’ in relation to a single event or experience.
I’ll never get that promotion, She always does that…

Zooming:  Seeing things as dramatically more or less important than they actually are. Often creating a “disaster” that follows.
Because my boss publicly thanked her she’ll get that promotion, not me (even though I had a great performance review and have just won a professional award).
I forgot to send that email! They won’t trust me again, I won’t get that raise and my wife will leave me.

Overambitious: Using “should”, “need to”, “must”, “ought to”, to motivate oneself, then feeling guilty when you don’t follow through (or anger and resentment when someone else doesn’t follow through).
I should have got the gardening done this weekend.
They ought to have been more considerate of my feelings.
They should know that would upset me.

Deprecation: Attaching a negative label to oneself or others following a single event.
I didn’t stand up to my colleague, I’m such a wimp!
What an idiot he is, he didn’t even see that coming!

Telepathy: Making negative assumptions about how people perceive one without evidence or factual support.
A friend is dismissive and you don’t bother to find out why. you’re thinking:
They believe I’m exaggerating again.
They still haven’t forgiven me for telling everyone about their problems.

Precognition: Making negative predictions about the future without evidence or factual support.
I won’t be able to sell my house. (even though the housing market is buoyant).
No one will understand, I won’t be invited back again (even though they are good friends).

Negativity: Not acknowledging the positive. Saying anyone could have done it or insisting that your positive qualities and achievements don’t count…That doesn’t count, anyone could have done it.
I’ve cut down from 60 cigarettes a day to 10 but it’s nothing to be happy about, it’s not as if I’d given up.

Blaming: Blaming yourself when you weren’t entirely responsible or blaming other people and denying your role in the situation.
If only I was better looking, I would have got the job
If only I hadn’t said that, they wouldn’t have agreed to a date.
If only she had done what I asked, I wouldn’t have been angry and wouldn’t have had the accident.

Emotive: I feel like this therefore I am like this. Believing that a feeling is true – without considering that it may not be accurate.
I feel such an idiot (I must be one). I feel guilty (I must be).
I feel really bad for shouting, It was inconsiderate.

Pessimism: Focusing on one negative detail to the detriment of your enjoyment/happiness/hope. You have a great evening meal out with friends, but your steak was undercooked and that ruined the whole evening.

The cognitive restructuring coaching service provided by CEREBRUM has four modules, each module consisting of one or more sessions.

The first module is one of assessment wherein distorted thought processes may be acknowledged and insight gained as to the factors, past or present that act as triggers to start these processes.

The second and third phase modules examine the practicality of avoiding such triggers, how to better manage situations where and when triggers are not avoided and how to graft restructured thoughts and processes into a preferred position over and above those previously held and practiced.

The fourth module deals with the implementation of agreed strategies and a process loop that naturally leads to strategic plan modification if such should prove necessary (see course/programme example.)

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