Cognitive Traps and Distortions

You have one or two negative experiences and think everything in the future will play out that same way. Ironically, in a self-fulfilling prophecy, you will this to happen, confirming your erroneous convictions.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda
You live in a “should” world — “I should have done this, so that this wouldn’t have happened.” Let it go. Things unfolded in a particular way for a reason. Tell yourself you will do better next time.

Black-and-white thinking
It is hard for you to see possibilities outside the box. Realize that there are a lot of options, and those choices often reside in the gray world. Very little exists in the all-or-nothing realm.

Negativity bias
If someone says something that isn’t what you perceive to be positive, you automatically think that everything negative will ensue, and you stay in this negative downward spiral or web.

Mind reading
You believe your thoughts, which often leads to believing that you know what other people are thinking.

When you blow things out of proportion, you create a web of distress that leads to fantasizing about the ways in which every little thing can go wrong.

Blaming yourself for things that may have gone wrong only leads to feelings of guilt, which of course perpetuates a vicious cycle of distress.

You misjudge or misinterpret situations. For example, you think that you are a failure when all you did was make a mistake.

Turning the positive to a negative
You find reasons to distrust others, even friends, and tend to dismiss genuine compliments that are freely given.

Thoughts as things
You believe your thoughts are real, when in reality they are just thoughts.

Emotional reasoning
You think if you feel something, then it must be true.

You tend to shrink the importance of something, or make a mountain out of a molehill.