Skilled thoughtful communication is the foundation for satisfying relationships. We teach effective, assertive communication skills along with conflict resolution and negotiation to individuals, couples and families.
COGNITIVE AND EMOTIONAL DISTORTIONS
from Feeling Good, by David Burns
Awareness of these common distortions may help remind us to try to remain realistic, to try to see in a more positive, or at least neutral, perspective, as opposed to seeing things based on largely negative perceptions, which often are actually distortions resulting from many years of negative social influences in our families or society.
Ten Common Cognitive Distortions
1. All or nothing thinking. Black or white.
2. Overgeneralization. Always/never…
3. Mental Filter. Dwell on negative aspects. Filters out the positive.
4. Disqualify the positive. Changing + into – .
5. Jump to conclusions:
a. Mind reading b. Fortune telling
6. Magnification/minimization (catastrophizing).
7. Emotional reasoning. “I feel like x, therefore I am x.”
8. “Should” statements.
Common Emotional Distortions
Emotions have the ability to distort our vision of reality, hence the following common expressions:
• He sees the world through rose-colored glasses. • He was blinded by his rage. • She always expects the worst.
At such times, we are making what are referred to as cognitive distortions, since our thoughts, or our cognitions, are being clouded by our feelings. When this happens we are thrown off-balance from reality. Consider these examples:
1. Emotional reasoning. This is when we allow our emotions to lead us to faulty conclusions. An example of this is someone who believes that, because he feels like a failure, he is a failure.
2. Emotional imprisonment. This is where we become a prisoner to our feelings. We feel trapped or we feel locked into a certain course of action, even when our better judgment and all the evidence are against it.
3. Mental coloring or filtering. We may either see everything in an overly positive or overly negative light. We may, for example, see any sign of trouble as a “disaster.” Or we might allow our emotions to trick us into converting a positive into a negative. An example of this would be someone who feels so bad about herself that she thinks people who compliment her are lying out of pity.
4. Over-generalization. This is where we mistakenly think that, because something happened before, it “always” happens. This is similar to black and white thinking. High EQ people refrain from making themselves feel worse by their distorted “self-talk.” Some examples of over-generalizing, negative self-talk are:
a. I always screw up. b. I am always forgetting things. c. I always get lost. d. I will never be happy. e. My partner is always late.
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