Reality Isn’t What You Think! How Cognitive Distortions Harm Us

Reality Isn’t What You Think! How Cognitive Distortions Harm Us

Face Woman Stones Wall Head Distortion Arc

All of us see reality through a personal lens shaped by our beliefs, culture, religion, and experiences. When couples argue, they generally can not agree about the facts of what occurred. Additionally, our mind tricks us according to what we believe, believe, and feel. These are cognitive distortions that cause us unnecessary pain.

If you suffer from depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or perfectionism, your thinking can skew your senses. Cognitive distortions reflect faulty thinking, frequently stemming from insecurity and low-self-esteem. Negative filters distort reality and can create stressful emotions. Thoughts awaken feelings, which in turn activate more negative thoughts, creating a negative feedback loop.

Being able to determine cognitive distortions builds our capacity to be mindful. Some are listed below:

1. Negative filtering

2. Magnification

3. Labeling

4. Personalization


6. Negative projections

7. Overgeneralizing


Self-criticism is the most pernicious aspect of codependency and low self-esteem. It can make you feel guilty, faulty, and inadequate. Negative self-talk robs you of happiness, make you unhappy, and can result in depression and illness. It contributes to negative filtering, which itself is considered a cognitive distortion. Self-criticism creates to other distortions, such as magnification and labeling, when you call yourself an idiot, a failure or a jerk.

Shame underlies harmful or chronic self-criticism and triggers many cognitive distortions. You might find fault with your ideas, deeds, words, and look, and perceive events and yourself in a negative manner that nobody else would. Some beautiful and successful people see themselves as unattractive, mediocre, or failures, and cannot be persuaded otherwise.


Magnification is when we exaggerate our weaknesses or responsibilities. We can also inflate negative projections and potential risks. It’s also referred to as catastrophizing, because we’re”making mountains out of molehills” or”blowing things out of proportion.” The inherent assumption is we won’t have the ability to handle what will happen. It is driven by insecurity and anxiety and escalates them. Another distortion is minimization, when we downplay the significance of our attributes, abilities, and positive ideas, feelings, and events, like compliments. We might magnify somebody else’s looks or skills, while minimizing our own. If you are in a group sharing, you might think everyone’s pitch was better than your own. Stop comparing.


Shame also underlies personalization. It’s when we take personal responsibility for things over which we don’t have any control. We might also blame ourselves if anything bad happens and take the blame for things that happen to others – even when it is conducive to their own actions! We can end up always feeling guilty or like a victim. If you’re plagued with guilt, it may be an indication of toxic shame. Take steps to analyze and free yourself of guilt.

Black and White Thinking

Do you think in absolutes? You’re the very best or the worst, right or wrong, good or bad. When you say never or always, it is a clue that you may be thinking in absolutes. This involves magnification. If one thing goes wrong, we feel defeated. Why bother? “If I can’t do my whole workout, there’s no point to work out at all.” There’s no gray and no flexibility.

Life is not a dichotomy. There are always extenuating circumstances. What applies in one instance may not be suitable in another. An all-or-nothing attitude can cause you to overdo or overlook opportunities to improve and gradually reach your goals–how the tortoise beat the hare. Exercising for ten minutes or only some muscle groups has large health benefits, compared to doing nothing. There are health risks to overdoing, as well. If you believe you have to do everyone’s job, work overtime, rather than ask for help, you will soon been drained, resentful, and eventually, ill.

Self-criticism and shame create anticipation of rejection and failing. Perfectionists also distort reality by imagining negative events or adverse outcomes are more likely to happen than positive ones. This creates tremendous worry about failing, making mistakes, and being judged. The future looms as a dangerous threat, instead of a safe arena to explore and revel in our lives. We may be projecting the unsafe home environment from our youth and living like it were happening today. We will need to recruit a loving parent within us to shine the light of consciousness on our fears and reassure ourselves that we’re not powerless, have choices, and that there is nothing to fear.


Overgeneralizations are opinions or statements that go beyond the truth or are broader than specific instances. We might form a belief based on little evidence or just 1 example. We can jump from”Mary does not like me,” to”Nobody likes me,” or”I’m not likable.” When we generalize about a group of individuals or gender, it’s usually false. For example, to say”Men are better at math than girls,” is untrue because many women are better at math than many guys are. When we use the words,”all” or”none,””always” or”never,” we probably are making an overgeneralization, based on black believing. Another overgeneralization is when we project the past onto the future. “I haven’t met anyone dating online,” so,”I won’t ever,” or”You can not meet anyone through online dating.”

Perfectionists tend to overgeneralize by making global, negative attributions about themselves and about their negative projections. If we spill our water at a dinner party, it’s not just an embarrassing accident, we’re mortified, and certain we made a clumsy fool of ourselves. We go one step further with a negative, projection and overgeneralize to imagine that everybody thinks the same, won’t like us, and will not invite us .

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