Borderline Personality Disorder,  Resources

Saving yourself from Cognitive Distortions

Some time ago I posted a list of Cognitive Distortions. I never posted the “antidotes” to these until now. Here they are:

1. Identify The Distortion: Write down your negative thoughts so you
can see which of the ten cognitive distortions you’re involved in. This
will make it easier to think about the problem in a more positive and
realistic way.

2. Examine The Evidence: Instead of assuming that your negative thought
is true, examine the actual evidence for it. For example, if you feel
that you never do anything right, you could list several things you
have done successfully.

3. The Double-Standard Method: Instead of putting yourself down in a
harsh, condemning way, talk to yourself in the same compassionate way
you would talk to a friend with a similar problem.

4. The Experimental Technique: Do an experiment to test the validity of
your negative thought. For example, if during an episode of panic, you
become terrified that you’re about to die of a heart attack, you could
jog or run up and down several flights of stairs. This will prove that
your heart is healthy and strong.

5. Thinking In Shades Of Grey: Although this method may sound drab, the
effects can be illuminating. Instead of thinking about your problems in
all-or-nothing extremes, evaluate things on a scale of 0 to 100. When
things don’t work out as well as you hoped, think about the experience
as a partial success rather than a complete failure. See what you can
learn from the situation.

6. The Survey Method: Ask people questions to find out if your thoughts
and attitudes are realistic. For example, if you feel that public
speaking anxiety is abnormal and shameful, ask several friends if they
ever felt nervous before they gave a talk.

7. Define Terms: When you label yourself ‘inferior’ or ‘a fool’ or ‘a
loser,’ ask, “What is the definition of ‘a fool’?” You will feel better
when you realize that there is no such thing as ‘a fool’ or ‘a loser.’

8. The Semantic Method: Simply substitute language that is less
colorful and emotionally loaded. This method is helpful for ‘should
statements.’ Instead of telling yourself, “I shouldn’t have made that
mistake,” you can say, “It would be better if I hadn’t made that

9. Re-attribution: Instead of automatically assuming that you are “bad”
and blaming yourself entirely for a problem, think about the many
factors that may have contributed to it. Focus on solving the problem
instead of using up all your energy blaming yourself and feeling

10. Cost-Benefit Analysis: List the advantages and disadvantages of a
feeling (like getting angry when your plane is late), a negative
thought (like “No matter how hard I try, I always screw up”), or a
behavior pattern (like overeating and lying around in bed when you’re
depressed). You can also use the cost benefit analysis to modify a
self-defeating belief such as, “I must always try to be perfect.”

One Comment

  • Jane Matthews

    Compelling way of seeing things. Speaking in public is such a tricky issue for most people thus any kind of help to assist them the way to conquer their worry is without a doubt really valued. I might like to make use of this specific posting on the new public speaking blog I am developing. Please let me know if this is viable. Many thanks, Jane.

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