How Cognitive Distortions Harm Us

Time Time Machine Distortion Mechanism Hou

When couples argue, they generally can’t agree on the facts of what happened. Furthermore, our mind tricks us based on what we believe, believe, and feel.

If you suffer from anxiety, depression, 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 generate stressful emotions. Thoughts stir up feelings, which in turn activate more negative thoughts, creating a negative feedback loop. If we act on our distorted perceptions, conflict ensues that can give rise to unintended negative consequences.

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

5. Black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinking

6. Negative projections

7. Overgeneralizing


Self-criticism is the most pernicious feature of codependency and low self-esteem. It distorts reality and your perception of yourself. It can make you feel guilty, flawed, and insufficient. 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 regarded as a cognitive distortion. Self-criticism produces to other distortions, such as magnification and tagging, when you call yourself an idiot, a failure or a jerk.

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


Magnification is when we exaggerate our flaws or responsibilities. We can also inflate negative projections and potential risks. It’s also called catastrophizing, because we are”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 nervousness and escalates them. Another distortion is minimization, when we downplay the significance of our attributes, abilities, and positive thoughts, feelings, and events, like compliments. We might magnify someone else’s appearances or skills, while minimizing our own. If you’re in a group discussing, you might think everyone’s pitch was better than your own. Stop comparing.


It is when we take personal responsibility for things over which we don’t have any control. We might also blame ourselves when anything bad happens as well as take the blame for things that happen to others – even when it is conducive to their actions! We can wind up constantly feeling guilty or like a victim. If you are plagued with guilt, it may be a symptom of toxic shame. Take steps to analyze and free yourself of guilt.

Do you believe in absolutes? You’re the 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 something goes wrong, we feel defeated. Why bother? “If I can’t do my entire workout, there is no point to work out at all.” There’s no gray and no flexibility.

Life is not a dichotomy. What applies in one case might not be appropriate in another. An all-or-nothing attitude can cause you to overdo or overlook opportunities to enhance and gradually attain your goals–how the tortoise beat the hare. Exercising for ten minutes or only some muscle groups has big health benefits, compared to doing nothing. There are health risks to overdoing, also. If you believe you need to do everybody’s job, work overtime, rather than ask for help, you will be drained, resentful, and finally, ill.

Self-criticism and shame create anticipation of rejection and failing. Perfectionists also distort reality by imagining negative events or negative outcomes are more likely to occur than positive ones. This creates tremendous worry about failing, making mistakes, and being judged. The future looms as a dangerous threat, rather than a safe arena to explore and revel in our lives. We may be projecting the unsafe home environment from our youth and living as if it were happening now. We will need to recruit a loving parent within us to shine the light of consciousness on our fears and reassure ourselves that we are no longer powerless, have options, and that there’s nothing to fear.


Overgeneralizations are statements or opinions which go beyond the truth or are broader than specific instances. We might form a belief based on little evidence or just one example. We can jump from”Mary does not like me,” to”Nobody likes me,” or”I am not likable.” When we generalize about a group of people or gender, it’s usually false. By way of 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 likely are making an overgeneralization, based on black-and-white thinking. Another overgeneralization is when we project the past onto the future. “I haven’t met anyone dating online,” so,”I never,” 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 sure we made a clumsy fool of ourselves. We go one step further with a drawback, projection and overgeneralize to imagine that everybody thinks the same, will not like us, and won’t invite us .

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