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15 Cognitive Distortions That Are More Common Than They Should Be 

There are many cognitive distortions that our brains can trick us into thinking if we aren’t careful. Cognitive distortions are irrational thoughts that can influence how we think, feel, and act. These are the most commonly reported distortions and challenges to, over time, reduce intrusive thoughts and rumination.

All-Or-Nothing Thinking

All-or-nothing thinking is where you see things in either black or either white. There is no room for gray with all-or-nothing thinking. 

Needing to Always Be Right

If you need to always be right, you are trying too hard to prove yourself as being right and prioritizing this trying to be right above all else. You may even be ignoring the actual truth because you are just trying to be in the right.


Blame means you are holding another person accountable for something that isn’t in their control.

Disqualifying the Positive

If you are disqualifying the positive, you are probably ignoring all of the compliments and good things about yourself.

Emotional Reasoning

Emotional reasoning occurs when you are incorrectly assuming that a negative feeling means that something is real.

Jumping to Conclusions (fortune-telling)

If you are jumping to conclusions and telling fortunes, you are making predictions based on very little evidence for that situation. You would also then be completely believing the situations that you have little evidence for.

Jumping to Conclusions (mind-reading)

 If you are jumping to conclusions and mind-reading, you are assuming that you know what someone else is thinking. 


Labeling is when you are calling yourself a negative name based on a behavior you think you are exhibiting. 

Magical Thinking

With magical thinking, you believe that the events that have happened depend on your thoughts and actions. 


With magnification, you are focusing on your mistakes and flaws, all while blowing them out of proportion. 

Mental Filtering 

In mental filtering, you might be ignoring all of the positive aspects of a situation and are focusing on the one negative it has to offer.


With overgeneralization, you might see a constant and never-ending negative pattern because you have been through one bad thing.


Personalization means you are holding yourself accountable for something that isn’t in your control.

“Should” Statements

With “should” statements, you are taking a negative view of yourself. This negative view makes you feel worse about the situation you’re in, creating a swift downward spiral. 

Minimizing Your Ability to Cope

If you are minimizing your ability to cope, you are engaging in self-limiting beliefs and are bottlenecking your mental, emotional, and spiritual growth. 

How Can You Challenge Your Cognitive Distortions? 

Ask yourself these questions:

Is there evidence for or against my thought?

You are asking yourself if you have sufficient evidence is an effective way to challenge a cognitive distortion. Check the facts before deciding the thought to be true. Then, see if there is evidence that proves the though false. Try not to overlook the evidence, even if it points to something you don’t want to hear.

What would a rational friend say about this thought?

If you or a friend were thinking and acting rationally, how would you or they be talking about the thought? Would they feel that the thought is rational or irrational? Figure out what makes your thought rational or irrational and then move on.

Can I control what I’m worried about?

If your thought is irrational, you probably do not have any control over the situation that has you worried. Worrying when you don’t have any power over something is only going to further your anxiety and stress. Try not to worry about something that you cannot control. 

If I looked at the situation positively, how would my thought be different?

Try to think about the situation in a positive light. What would be different if you reframed the thought to be more positive? What would remain the same? Try to think about the situation or thought with a clear head. 

Is the thought helpful, or is it just causing me stress?

A negative, irrational thought, about something out of your control, is not helpful and is only causing you stress. These are thoughts you want to learn to let go, as they no longer serve you. 

Will this thought matter in the near or far future?

If you are worrying about something that won’t matter in the future, then try to drop it now. There’s no reason to waste time worrying when you could be doing other, more beneficial things for your recovery.

Enlightened Solutions is here to help you or a loved one today. Call us at 833-801-LIVE to learn more about the programs we offer and how to take the first step toward a life worth living. 

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