Straighten-Out Your Cognitive Distortions with These 9 Questions

So what’s one of the best ways to make the next 365 days the #YearofYou ?

It’s by understanding and clearing-up your cognitive distortions!

If you watched this week’s Youtube video, then you already know how to spot 10/13 common cognitive distortions. And if you haven’t watched that video yet, do so first by clicking here https://youtu.be/MibR3XAcjvk . Then be sure to come back to this post so you can learn how to spot the final 3/13 cognitive distortions!

Distortions Lead to … Disaster

So what the heck is a cognitive distortion? Well, simply put, it’s a distorted/warped/twisted way of thinking. Cognitive distortions are general paradigms of thought that are not representative of reality.
The danger in these distortions is that you are usually unaware you are using them. And when used, they can lead to either a grandiose or belittled sense of self. And because a belittled sense of self can lead to a decline in mental health and a feeling like you hit rock bottom, I am going to address and assist with resolving those particular distortions* today.

The Double Standard Distortion

Do you have high standards? Not in regards to finding a romantic partner or a best friend, but rather in regard to yourself.

When you expect more from yourself than you do from others, it’s probably because you’re putting an unnecessary amount of pressure on yourself. As if you aren’t allowed to make mistakes, grow at your own pace, and fail…

Put yourself in this scenario: you just got hired at your first ever job. A month goes by and you still need to ask for assistance from colleagues. If you have high expectations of yourself, you are probably getting-down on yourself, feeling stupid, and possibly feeling unworthy of your new position. And maybe – as a result of your now depleted self-confidence – your work starts to suffer and you even contemplate quitting to avoid further “embarrassment”.

But is it really embarrassment that you want to avoid? Or are you simply not giving yourself enough time to learn?

One of the biggest dangers with the double standard distortion is that people confuse experience with intelligence and inexperience with stupidity. And I’ll be the first to tell you I am guilty of doing that.

If you ever find yourself feeling down because of a scenario similar to the one I just described it may be because you’re applying the double standard distortion. To get your thinking straight again, I need you to ask these three questions:

(1) Would I expect this behaviour of somebody else? (2) How would I react if somebody else’s behaviour did not meet my expectations? (3) Why would I expect more of myself than everyone else?

The Double standard cognitive distortion. Person A and Person B cannot both objectively have higher expectations of themselves than the other person.

Listen… standards cannot be objective if every single person has a higher expectation of themself over others. In fact, it makes zero sense for everyone’s expectations to be objectively higher than everyone else’s; there is one objective standard and any other expectation you have is subjective perception. And if you really think you have reason to believe you should out-perform every other person on this planet, I suggest you take a slice of humble pie.

And if you still want to be an “Expectation Edward”, then please know those extra-high and unrealistic expectations you have of yourself will only make you feel less than worthy and interfere with your improvement process.

The Fallacy of Fairness Distortion

Listen, life isn’t fair. And your perception of what is fair is likely different than the perception of the person next to you.

If you buy into this distortion it is because you worry about the things you can’t control. But you have to remember life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it; so put your energy in to responding to situations in a way that benefits you, regardless if the outcome seems “fair”.

There are many things we cannot control, and fairness is not always one of them. But you can control your behaviour, you can choose to find the positive within the negative, and you can accept negative situations because they happened.

So next time you find yourself upset over an unfair outcome, ask yourself these questions:
(1) Do I have the power to make this outcome”fair”? (2) Would everyone involved agree with my idea of what is fair? (3) Do the benefits of pursuing a fair outcome outweigh any costs that may come along with that pursuit?

Sometimes we focus so much on creating a fair outcome, that we end up causing arguments along the way. And other times, creating a fair outcome won’t change anything in the situation expect how pleased we personally are with the outcome. So just make sure your pursuits are worth it. And remember learning to cope is a better skill to master than always manipulating situations in your favour.

The Emotional Reasoning Distortion

Your feelings are not reality. Sorry to break it to you but that is the truth.

Feeling sad or angry about something does not override the facts of a scenario. So you cannot use your feelings to get your way. Sometimes we have to earn to take the L. So just because Sally’s boyfriend broke up with her over the weekend, that does not mean she can go into work late without repercussions. And just because Johnny injured himself and has to miss a week of work, that does not give him the right to get paid in full by his employer.

When you find yourself being guided by your emotions, take a second to step back and ask:
(1) Do my feelings align with the facts? (2) Why should my feelings be taken into higher consideration than the facts.. if at all? (3) Do I even know all the facts?

Often times we don’t know all the facts. And if partial-facts fuel us to a particular decision, why would we bother searching for all the facts in case we end up disappointed? But like I said, we gotta learn to take the L. And hey, there’s always a possibility that all of the facts will lead us to our emotionally-fueled decision, so why not take the chance?

All in All …

You have to think straight to remain in control of your life and make the best decisions for your future. So retrain your brain to get rid of those cognitive distortions, and start giving yourself a better life.

As always, Happy Monday.

*the cognitive distortions analyzed in this post are originally provided at https://livewellwithsharonmartin.com/common-cognitive-distortions/

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Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional health advice.

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