(GivenUs.com) – Most of us experience cognitive distortions daily. It’s simply the typical way our brains react to stimuli based on past experience. It’s kind of like your brain is lying to you and telling you something different, rather than presenting the truth. These subtle negative thinking traps can have a tremendous impact on your life. Here’s how to spot them and put an end to them for good.
Maybe you’ve heard the term “Negative Nelly.” It describes someone who is negative most of the time. Constant negativity is one way the brain latches on to damaging cognitive distortions. In fact, it is a type of distortion all on its own.
The brain can become trapped in focus on negative aspects of a situation, filtering out positive outcomes. This clouds your ability to see reality. It can even prevent you from achieving success, mostly because you’re too busy hyper-focusing on what’s not working as opposed to what might work.
Ever find yourself focused on a single event from the past? This tends to make people draw conclusions solely based on history. Someone hurt you once; ergo, everyone must be out to hurt you in the same way. It’s a way the brain can play a trick on you based on overthinking or overgeneralizing.
Let’s say you take your final exam, but you get a B when you’re used to getting straight A’s. This frustrates you. Even though you know there are underlying reasons — illness, a bad breakup, stress — you begin to think you’re not good enough to get a degree. This small internal lie sabotages self-esteem and makes it seem you’re not good enough.
A potential client missed their 2PM conference call with you. She seemed like a good fit and would be an excellent addition to your team. You can’t stop thinking about the sheer hubris of it all, and you concoct an entire internal story about her terrible personality.
Then she finally calls. She was hung up at a school conference for her child, had a flat tire, and promptly got stuck in traffic afterward. To top it all off, she lost her phone, which is why she didn’t call.
Just a bad day — but your brain didn’t see it that way.
Having an attitude of doom and gloom on a frequent basis signifies feelings of magnification. This making a mountain out of a molehill theory can sabotage good working relationships before they even start to bloom.
Take time to think things through. There are times in life when everyone deserves a second chance to make a first impression.
There are some people who never take responsibility for their own actions. It may be an isolated event, or it may occur as a daily lie. Blaming others for their problems is a form of negative behavior. Playing the victim becomes easier.
Here’s an example. You’re upset because your partner forgot your anniversary, so the day is ruined because of them. It’s their fault you’re crying and stuck with nothing to do. In reality, you’re responsible for your feelings and how you react, just as your partner is with theirs.
Own your emotions and your life. And when others lash out at you in this manner, remember that they’re often reacting from a place of historical hurt. Give them the space to calm down, and talk afterward. But don’t take on their blame if it isn’t yours to carry.
One of the main fundamentals of cognitive behavioral therapy is to alter negative thinking. Focus on what your brain is telling you and work on cognitive restructuring steps. When a brain lie comes up, pause before you react. Challenge and reframe that thought. Then ask yourself; “Is this healthy?” If it’s a distortion, reinforce the right way to respond. Over time, you can train your brain into a new, healthier way of thinking.
Little brain lies can take over your life. The first step to correct these lies is to be real with yourself, and trust me, it’s so worth it. You can overcome cognitive distortions. Identify and then challenge each lie. This allows these thoughts to be replaced by more rational ways of thinking. You deserve to live your very best life.
~Here’s to Your Success!
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