The 10 cognitive distortions are
1. All or nothing thinking. Everything's black or white. One error means black.
2. Overgeneralization. One negative means you can predict never-ending negatives.
3. Mental filter. You pick out a single negative and dwell on it exclusively.
4. Disqualifying the positive. You reject positive experiences or comments because "they don't count".
5. Jumping to conclusions
a. mind reading. You assume someone is thinking negatively of you.
b. fortune telling. You anticipate and expect things will go badly.
6. Magnification and Minimization. You exaggerate the importance of goof-ups and mistakes and minimize the importance of the good things you do.
7. Emotional reasoning. If I feel bad it must be bad.
8. Should statements. You try to motivate yourself with "shoulds", "musts" and "oughts" and the emotional consequence is guilt for yourself and frustration when you mentally use those words in connection with others.
9. Labeling and mislabeling. You attach negative labels to yourself and others.
10. Personalization. You see yourself as the cause of an external negative event that you were actually not responsible for.
So, with that review, can you identify which cognitive distortions are in the following scenario?
You've been reading sections of "Teaching, No Greater Call" about classroom discipline and applying the principles in it to the Sunday school class you teach. You've been doing it for several weeks and it seems to be making a difference. Then, suddenly, things in the classroom take a turn for the worse as a couple of kids in your class start acting out and in three consecutive weeks you are back to where you started. You feel bitter, disillusioned, hopeless and desperate due to thinking, "I'm not getting anywhere. These methods won't help after all. I should have things under control well by now. That 'improvement' was a fluke. I was fooling myself when I felt like things were going better, They really didn't. I'll never be able to get these kids to pay attention." Which of the following one or more cognitive distortions did you employ?
a) disqualifying the positive
b) should statement
c) all-or-nothing thinking
d) jumping to conclusions
e) emotional reasoning
answer: all of them. Did you find some of them? Good! You could probably add "personalization" to the list if in fact the two kids are acting out due to chaos at home beyond your control.
Can you see how our thoughts and responses to a situation can create our emotions? And how distorted thoughts can mess up our emotions?
The goal, then, is to learn how to think thoughts based in reality, things as they really are, not in distortions of reality. And that can be done. The first step is to start identifying those distortions. And you just did that.
The next step is to talk back truth to them when they pop up in your brain.