by Jessica Smith, LCPC
Hopefully you were able to read through my previous post which identified, described, and gave examples of some of the most common cognitive distortions (see Part II in our series for a definition of cognitive distortion). We’ll keep this psychoeducation train moving onto a few more!
Has anyone ever told you that you “take things too personally?” If so, you’re probably engaging in this distortion fairly often. An example could be thinking you must be a bad person or have done something totally wrong when someone glances at you angrily.
Feeling controlled by and helpless to something external, or something we believe to be beyond our control, such as fate or a social system. For example, you may think to yourself, “I’m never going to be able to get a better job; I’m just stuck with this one.” Also, with this distortion, we assume we affect others in certain ways and are responsible for other people’s feelings and reactions. For instance, “I must have ruined my wife’s day because I was late for dinner.”
Believing everything in life should be based on fairness. For example, you think it would be most fair for you to be promoted because you have been working at your company the longest and you do a good enough job relative to other applicants. As we have all heard, life isn’t always so fair!
Blaming others for our own emotional reactions. An example might be, “He made me feel guilty just because I didn’t say hello.” Just as you have no literal control over others, only you have true control over your emotions and how you react to certain people and situations.
Believing there is a certain way someone or some situation should be and there is no other way. This distortion also involves having a list of rules that no one should break, and you feel a strong sense of guilt if you break one of these rules. Unreasonably high expectations of yourself and others can stem from this distortion.
Are any realizations coming to you after reading through these distortions? Stick with me because we’ve got just one more round of them to cover and then we can talk a little about how to start working on them!
Up Next: Our Last Five Cognitive Distortions to Review