Cognitive Distortion: As human beings, we are wired to interpret everything around us and make sense of things happening in it. Cognitive distortions are ways through which our conscious becomes biased. These are “shortcut” methods that our brains apply to give inaccurate and different results.
Cognitive distortion usually starts slowly but develops up to a point where it affects a person’s life. Therefore, it is crucial to understand them and how you can avoid them. Read through the article for more information.
What are cognitive distortions?
These are irrational and inaccurate thought patterns that are often increased by negative feelings and thoughts. Basically, they convince our minds that what we are thinking is true.
Interestingly, these thought patterns occur naturally in our day-to-day life and are hard to identify as they are automatically wired in our brains. The brain always tends to remember past events and will react in the same way when these feelings or emotions reoccur.
When left unattended for long, these irrational thought patterns can lead to chronic depression, anxiety, or developing poor relationships. To effectively understand this disorder, it is essential to recognize the following facts;
All cognitive disorders are,
ü Common patterns or beliefs or thinking.
ü Exaggerated, false, and often inaccurate thoughts.
ü Culprits of increased depression and anxiety.
ü Manifests as negative feelings or emotions.
Cause of distorted thinking.
While there is no conclusive evidence linking depression and anxiety as the cause of cognitive distortion, the disorder is more prevalent in people suffering from severe mental illnesses.
Being a part of some complex system in our brains connected to our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, cognitive distortions does not have a single cause as anxiety and depression. However, various factors can be linked to it, including cultural, social, and environmental reasons.
So, who is affected by the cognitive disorder?
Generally, everyone can get distorted thinking patterns during their day-to-day thoughts and plans. However, it won’t negatively affect some, and they will be able to identify them quickly.
But irrational thought patterns may be real for people undergoing anxiety and stressful life issues, and they won’t identify them quickly. Our minds turn to autopilot during cognitive distortions, and we rarely realize what’s happening, making it hard to recognize inaccurate or illogical thoughts.
How cognitive distortion affects people.
Everyone experiences irrational or negative feelings in their daily life. The only difference is that others can identify them pretty fast and get their thoughts back to reality.
Others may have a hard time identifying if their thoughts are irrational, inaccurate, and false. If they occur frequently, they can lead to severe depression, anxiety, poor relationships, and other health issues.
How to avoid cognitive distortions.
Technically, if a person is able to identify these negative feelings and thoughts correctly, they are likely to refute and challenge them.
By progressively challenging the thoughts and emotions, the common nature towards them will begin to diminish. And with time, they’ll get replaced by more rational thought patterns automatically.
This process of altering irrational thinking patterns is known as cognitive restructuring. It acts as a key factor in cognitive behavioral therapy. Follow the steps below to start identifying and creating awareness of your thoughts for a positive and quality lifestyle.
- Write and recite the cause of your thinking errors to get familiar with each one.
- Any time you get irrational thoughts, you need to stop and think out clearly about what you need to do to avoid the negative mind.
- Refer to your list and identify a problem causing the negative thoughts at the moment you start getting them.
- Overcome the distortion by reframing and challenging their causes.
- Repeat these steps frequently until you start knowing factors leading to negative feelings. With effective practice, you’ll be able to master your control and trigger your positive reasoning sections of the brain.
Though cognitive distortion is a common experience in everybody’s life, however, it can lead to serious health problems when you cannot control them for long. Follow the steps discussed in the post to understand and avoid this disorder.
However, it is also important to acknowledge that you can’t force positive thoughts, especially if you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or living in an environment that fosters negative thoughts. So, never fear getting professional help.