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Mental mistakes – Do you make them?

Mental Mistakes and Cognitive Distortions

Mental mistakes or cognitive distortions are ways of thinking that help us to understand and navigate our world.  Cognitive distortions are learned ways of thinking.  Our experiences can help to reinforce them.  Though they help us to cope, can be adaptive and are logical, they are not rational.

When cognitive distortions are used in excess they can create difficulty with your thinking, lead to painful experiences, and stunt your experiences.  Take a moment and think about the cognitive distortions you may make.  Do you use these?

  • All or nothing thinking

     You are only able to see things in extremes, black or white.  If you’re not perfect than you’re a failure.

  • Over-generalization

    You take one piece of evidence and attribute it to everything.  One failure means that you are a failure and will fail at everything.

  • Mental filter

    You pick one event either positive or negative and can only see your world through that perspective.

  • Negating the positive

    You reject the positive experiences in your life and see them as purely by chance.

  • Jumping to conclusions

    You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.

  • Mind reading

    you believe you know why someone is acting the way they are or that you know what they are thinking without looking for evidence.

  • Fortuneteller error

    You anticipate that things will turn out a certain way and you feel convinced that your predication is an already established fact.  

  • Magnification or minimization

    You exacerbate the importance of things (a mistake you made or someone else’s achievement) or inappropriately shrink things until they appear insignificant (like your own positive traits or the negative traits of others).

  • Emotional reasoning

    You assume that negative emotions reflect the way things really are.  You feel it so it must be true.

  • Should statements

    The rules you place on yourself that leave no room for error. When you don’t meet theses shoulds and shouldn’ts guilt ensues.  When you direct should statements toward others you feel anger, frustration and resentment.

  • Labeling and mislabeling

    An extreme form of overgeneralization.  Instead of describing an error you attach a negative label to yourself.  “ I made a mistake vs. I’m a loser.”  You describe an event with words that color the situation and are emotionally loaded.

  • Personalization

    You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event, which in fact you were not primarily responsible for.

Learned Habits

Cognitive distortions are learned habits. They help us to cope and can provide us with a sense of security.  However when used in excess cognitive distortions are more harmful than helpful.  These habits can be unlearned and countered. At Equilibria Psychological and Consultation Services, we have experienced therapists that work with individuals to help them understand how they think.  Our therapists can aid you in unlearning habits and countering cognitive distortions.  If you would like to find out more about our services, please do not hesitate to contact us at    267-861-3685, Option 1.