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Cognitive Distortions: don't believe everything you think!

Updated: Apr 28, 2020

Learn to question what your brain assumes to be true

I like to compare our brains to a trusted pet dog. It's pretty good at recognising familiar patterns and learning new ones, it alerts us to obvious dangers and gets easily distracted by food and others biological functions. However, just like dogs, it can easily misunderstand what's going on - the equivalent of barking at the postman. Just as with a pet dog, sometimes we have to question whether what our brain thinks is going on is really true.

It's not that your brain wants to trick you; it's just that it's wired to do so. You see, your brain is excellent at spotting patterns, making connections and creating meanings and stories. Its primary function is to keep you safe so it doesn't always wait for robust proof and instead often just assumes the worst.

Most people fail to spot their own cognitive distortions

A cartoon showing a woman who has just exited an interview room. A speech bubble shows the woman is thinking "They hate me!". Inside the interview room are three interviewers with a speech bubble showing them saying "She's great!". Beneath the image it reads: 'It's so easy to assume what we imagine someone else is thinking is what they are really thinking'
Mind Reading is a common Cognitive Distortion

Cognitive distortions are irrational patterns of thinking or beliefs, which we unknowingly reinforce over time, and which affect how we feel. They come in many forms and most people have been taken in by one or more of them at some point, A common example is 'Mind Reading' where you assume you know what someone else is thinking (usually something negative) about you or something else, when actually you cannot possibly know what they're thinking.

For a list of common cognitive distortions read my next article:

The 15 Most Common Cognitive Distortions

Cognitive distortions have a negative effect on your life

For some people these distortions can have a very negative effect on how they see themselves, other people, situations they find themselves in and the broader world around them. In turn these thoughts affect how they feel.. And how they feel may, in turn, affect how they think about these same things. It can be easy for these distortions to cloud your thinking and for negative thoughts to dominate your reality.

My Coaching helps you to recognise and replace cognitive distortions

The good news is that it is possible to recognise and modify these unhelpful patterns of thinking and, with practice, all of us can get better at doing so. In my coaching I'm constantly listening for distortions in my clients' thoughts and beliefs. I help them to recognise and challenge possible distortions and we use a range of techniques to examine them. With practice my clients improve their own ability to spot distortions as soon as they arise and even pre-empt them. Gaining control over their thinking improves confidence and often has a positive impact on how they see themselves, on their relationships and how they see the world. I've included a number of common cognitive distortions in my COACHING GLOSSARY if you're interested to learn more.

If you're interested in learning more about your own cognitive distortions relating to a particular situation, or in general, don't hesitate to SEND ME A MESSAGE. Alternatively go ahead and book a 'TASTER SESSION' right now.

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