15 Common Cognitive Distortions That Twist Your Thinking

Common Cognitive Distortions Twist Thinking

11. Catastrophizing

Cognitive Distortions Catastrophizing
15 Common Cognitive Distortions That Twist Your Thinking

Catastrophizing is a distorted form of thinking which occurs when people anticipate the worst consequences by exaggerating normal worries when experiencing uncertainty. This type of distortion in thought makes you falsely believe that you are experiencing worse outcomes than you actually are. “Catastrophizing is a cognitive distortion that prompts people to jump to the worst possible conclusion, usually with very limited information or objective reason to despair,” explains Psychology Today

Considered as a type of magnification, it makes someone exaggerate the problems and challenges they face in life. Although some may believe that it is simply an over-exaggerated reaction to stressful situations, it is a complicated and unintentional tendency. The thinker may predict unfavorable outcomes and then may believe that it will be disastrous if the predicted outcome actually occurs. It can make them believe they are experiencing a crisis even faced with a mildly upsetting situation. Unfortunately, this is one of the types of cognitive distortions that can cause severe health issues, like panic attacks, anxiety depression etc. For instance, a student may think that if they fail a semester, they will never be able to graduate and build a successful career. Someone who is catastrophizing may not be aware that they are engaging in it.

Read also: How To Improve Fluid Intelligence: 5 Science-Backed Ways To Boost Your Cognitive Skills


12. Fallacies of control 

cognitive distortions fallacies of control
15 Common Cognitive Distortions That Twist Your Thinking

It is a flawed pattern of thinking involving having internal control or being controlled externally. The thinker has two extreme beliefs regarding control of circumstances in life. In the case of the external control fallacy, they may believe that they have no control over any aspect of their life and feel helpless. For instance, if you find yourself working overtime regularly, you may blame your boss for giving you too much work instead of identifying any time management issues that you may have. Internal control fallacy makes the thinker believe that they are responsible for everything. They may feel personally responsible if someone is upset or facing a difficult time and tend to take the blame for unfavorable outcomes. For example, if your partner is trying to cope with excessive work pressure, you may try to feel responsible for making them happy when they come home.

External control fallacy leads to the development of a victim mentality, while internal control fallacy makes you feel more accountable even when it’s not your responsibility, making you feel exhausted.


13. Fallacy of fairness

Cognitive Distortions fallacies of fairness
15 Common Cognitive Distortions That Twist Your Thinking

This fallacy is also considered as one of the main cognitive distortions. It makes you analyze and measure behaviors, characters, personalities, experiences, events and situations based on equality and fairness. However, life is usually not fair and this can make you bitter and resentful. If you keep judging every aspect of your life based on how fair it is, you will be left disappointed and hopeless when facing reality. Things don’t typically play out in a fair manner, although they should. For instance, infidelity in a relationship can be seen as wrong but cheating is common in relationships and is often driven by the behavior of both partners.

Fairness is a subjective topic and is often hard to define without falling into the trap of self-serving intentions. Most of us tend to assume how certain things should be if the world was fair. However, others may not agree with your own personal opinion of fairness. This can cause you a lot of pain, anger, frustration, and sadness.

Read also: 35+ Mind Bending Psychology Facts About Human Behavior


14. Fallacy of change

Cognitive Distortions fallacy of change
15 Common Cognitive Distortions That Twist Your Thinking

Another type of fallacy considered as one of the common cognitive distortions is the fallacy of change. In this form of distorted thinking, you may tend to believe that you can change someone by persuading or forcing them to change. People with this fallacy believe that they can only be happy when someone changes their mentality, attitude and behavior. It is mostly observed in intimate relationships and is regarded as a selfish and manipulative behavior. For instance, you may attempt to change your partner’s wardrobe believing they will look more presentable. However, this only shows that you are unable to accept them for who they are.

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

15. Being right

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

If you feel the need to be always right, then you may have one of the most widely experienced cognitive distortions. This can make you consider your own opinions and beliefs as facts and dogmas. This can prevent you from being empathic and keep you from valuing others’ opinions and feelings while in a discussion. This can directly affect your relationships with family members, friends and peers. As you strongly believe that you can never be wrong, you can take great efforts to prove yourself right in a debate. Sometimes being right can be more important to you than maintaining relationships with loved ones.

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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