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The 10 Common Cognitive Distortions That Cloud Our Judgement

In our journey through life, how we perceive situations often determines our responses and actions. However, sometimes, our mind plays tricks on us, distorting reality and leading us to believe in things that aren't entirely true.

Here are ten common cognitive distortions that can shape our thoughts and feelings, often for the worse:

All or Nothing Thinking

This is when you perceive situations in extremes without acknowledging any middle ground. For instance, thinking, "I'm a bad person," instead of recognizing that everyone has strengths and flaws.

Overgeneralization This involves taking a singular event and applying it universally. You're overgeneralizing if you think, "I never do anything right" after one mistake.

Mental Filter

This is when you selectively focus on adverse events while ignoring the positive. If you dwell on one task you didn't complete instead of numerous others you did, you're using a mental filter.

Disqualifying the Positive

Even when good things happen, you might dismiss them as flukes or accidents. Thinking, "I managed the presentation, but even broken clocks are right twice a day," is an example.

Jumping to Conclusions

Without complete evidence, you might make pessimistic predictions. If someone declines an invitation and you think, "I must be unlovable," you jump to conclusions.

Magnification or Minimization This distortion involves blowing things out of proportion or diminishing their importance. For example, "Everyone noticed my minor mistake at the game, but Susan was perfect."

Emotional Reasoning is believing that it must be true if you feel a certain way. Feeling embarrassed doesn't always mean you acted embarrassingly.

Should Statements

Holding yourself to rigid expectations can lead to unnecessary guilt or frustration. "I should've kept my mouth shut" is an instance where you're being too hard on yourself.

Labeling and Mislabeling

Generalizing one incident to define oneself can be harmful. Thinking, "I forgot to do the report; I'm a total idiot," is a classic example.


Blaming oneself for events outside one's control can be detrimental. Believing a dinner party went poorly just because you attended is a precise instance of personalization.


In recognizing these distortions, we can challenge and reframe our thoughts to develop a healthier and more balanced perspective on life. Remember, understanding is the first step towards change. It's essential to be kind to ourselves and realize that seeking perfection in our thinking, like everything else, is overrated.


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