Cognitive distortions are thought processes that are not in line with reality. Unfortunately, people with anxiety disorders and depression tend to struggle quite a bit with these distortions. The ironic part is that the distortions always seem to be negative, never positive.
In doing an online search for a list of distortions I came across a blog called Therapy Worksheets which had a link to Lynn Martin's website, which has a good list of cognitive distortions. Early in my therapy, my psychologist handed me a similar worksheet of distortions. I read through them and thought, "Huh, how about that, I think I do some of them." We discussed the list for a bit and then went on to a discussion of ERPs. I did not realize at the time how significant the awareness of distortions would become to the improvement of my mental health. Session after session, my doctor would make me list the cognitive distortions I was laboring under. I started to realize that my thinking was really skewed.
One of my biggest struggles is with mind reading. We all have things that we are good at, and one of them for me is "reading people," so to speak. I can often tell what people are thinking by simply looking at body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, or even what specific words someone chooses to use. It's not that I'm looking for this stuff, it just sort of pops out at me when talking to someone. This ended up getting me into a lot of trouble with my OCD. I started to think that all kinds of people were thinking negatively about me. It affected a lot of my relationships. My doctor finally helped me to understand that, yes, I may be good at reading people, but not when it comes to something involving me. Anything involving myself is so emotionally charged with anxiety, that I tend to misinterpret signals others are giving off (and it is always negative, of course). It took over 2 years of therapy before I truly believed and understood this concept. Once I did however, it was real freedom.
Now, when talking to others, I try really hard to assume that any "off" signals I'm receiving are either misinterpreted by me or that the person's negative expression may have absolutely nothing to do with me at all. Unless someone is clearly upset with me, I try not to "mentally involve" myself with it. This is a work in progress as I still struggle with it a bit. It takes lots of time and practice to change thinking that has been in place for over four decades. It has been worth the time and effort however, as I no longer constantly feel that others have negative thoughts about me.
Do you struggle with cognitive distortions? What are your most troublesome distortions?