15 Common Cognitive Distortions That Twist Your Thinking

Common Cognitive Distortions Twist Thinking

3. Mental Filters

Cognitive Distortions mental filters
15 Common Cognitive Distortions That Twist Your Thinking

This is regarded as the complete opposite of overgeneralization, however, with similar adverse effects. It is a distorted thought pattern that inappropriately focuses only on a single negative event or experience and ignores everything that is positive. Considering negative experiences or events exclusively is not only an ineffective process but can be damaging as well as it can worsen symptoms of anxiety & depression. Dwelling on a particular negative detail darkens the perspective of the thinker magnifying the negative aspects while filtering out the positive aspects. For instance, almost all of your friends “like” and comment on your new post on a social media platform, except one particular person. Filtering will make you obsess about why that specific person has not reacted to your post and ignore all the positive reactions you got from the others. 

15 Common Cognitive Distortions That Twist Your Thinking
15 Common Cognitive Distortions That Twist Your Thinking

It has been observed that when we have negative perspectives about ourselves, our reality, and our future, then it can lead to hopelessness and depression. When not addressed, such thinking errors can even lead to suicidal thoughts and ideations. 

Read also: Understanding Depression With Beck’s Cognitive Triad


4. Discounting the positive

Cognitive Distortions discounting the positive
15 Common Cognitive Distortions That Twist Your Thinking

This is another type of cognitive distortions that makes someone reject, discredit or invalidate all positive experiences or good things they have in life. Similar to mental filters, this pattern of thought includes a negative bias in perspective and thoughts. If you have this distortion, then you will not only ignore the positive, you will completely overlook and justify it as luck, accident, or a coincidence. It can make you feel miserable & unrewarded in life and adversely affect your sense of self-worth and self-esteem as you will think you are inadequate. 

People who discount the positive acknowledge external factors more than their own hard work, skill and determination. This can cause learned helplessness and decrease motivation as they believe they can’t control external factors like luck. For instance, if you get a promotion at work for your effort and performance, you may believe it happened due to luck or was probably a mistake.


5. Jumping to conclusions

Cognitive Distortions jumping to conclusions
15 Common Cognitive Distortions That Twist Your Thinking

Also known as the inference-observation confusion and the jumping conclusion bias, it is a thinking error where a person makes decisions or reaches unwarranted conclusions without understanding or analyzing all the available information. This can often lead to rash, uninformed decisions that can be harmful to the thinker or others. Jumping to conclusions may make you mistakenly believe that you know how another person is thinking or feeling, even though you may be completely wrong.

According to experts, jumping to conclusions is primarily of two main types:

A. Mind reading

When you randomly believe that someone is having negative thoughts or emotions about you without accessing all the facts. For instance, you may believe a coworker is trying to sabotage your work or has a grudge against you, but this belief is not based on any facts or information. Studies show that this thought distortion is commonly observed in kids and is linked to anxiety.

B. Fortune telling

When you tend to anticipate or even predict that something will occur negatively or lead to a bad outcome so that you can avoid putting effort into accomplishing it. For example, a student may believe that they will fail in math and may not put in the necessary effort to pass the semester as they falsely believe they will flunk.

Read also: Top 10 Foods To Boost Your Brain Power & Health


6. Magnification

Cognitive Distortions magnification
15 Common Cognitive Distortions That Twist Your Thinking

Magnification refers to the exaggeration of difficulties, challenges, problems, and drawbacks in a severe or dramatic way. This form of cognitive distortions also involves minimization which refers to denial or rationalization of desirable aspects. People who exaggerate are often identified as a ‘boaster’. They assign illogical amounts of importance to threats, shortcomings, weaknesses, and perceived failures. Minimization typically downplays the value of an experience, emotion, or event and assigns proportionally lesser significance to opportunities, strengths, and accomplishments. These can be considered as a form of deception and are also known as the binocular trick. For instance, a person addicted to antidepressants may exaggerate how depressed, anxious, and stressed they feel without the medication while minimizing the side effects of overuse or addiction.

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Theo Harrison

Hey there! I am just someone trying to find my way through life. I am a reader, writer, traveler, fighter, philosopher, artist and all around nice guy. I am outdoor person but heavily into technology, science, psychology, spiritualism, Buddhism, martial arts and horror films. I believe in positive action more than positive thinking.View Author posts