Warped Thinking: Big Deal or No Big Deal

Welcome to the fifth post in our Warped Thinking blog series. In this series we have been examining cognitive distortions which are ways that we think that may lead us to less desirable outcomes. The first step in combating these thoughts is knowing that we have them.

Think about the goals you have accomplished in your life. Did you graduate high school? Attend college? Landed your dream job or bought your dream house? There are so many things that people want to accomplish in every aspect of their lives. When you think about these accomplishments, do you recognize the effort and time that went into obtaining them, or are you more likely to dismiss them as no big deal? If it is the latter, you might be engaging in minimization.

Minimization occurs when a person believes that his or her accomplishments are not important even if he or she views the same accomplishments in others as significant achievements. When discussing attaining a goal, a person engaged in minimization might say things like “it’s no big deal” or dismiss congratulations from others.

At the same time, this same person might view their mistakes as much more important or worse than the mistakes of others, a type of cognitive distortion called magnification. He or she may engage in verbally berating themselves for the smallest of mistakes or for not reaching what might be unachievable goals even though the same mistakes made by others don’t warrant the same reaction from them.

These cognitive distortions are often accompanied by low self-esteem, feelings of being unworthy or not good enough, and excessive worrying, all of which cause distress. This also makes this type of warped thinking difficult to combat.

One technique to combat minimization and magnification is to imagine that someone you love, such as a close friend, sister, nephew, or other person you care about, accomplished the same goal or made the same mistake and then imagining how you would react to them in that situation. For most of us, we say things to ourselves that we would never say to a person we care about. So if what you would say to your loved one is significantly different than what you would say to yourself, it is time to change your internal voice. Give yourself the same recognition and the same consideration that you would give others. When the old thoughts come back, stop them and recite what you would say to your loved one. Over time the thoughts that first come to mind will be the more accurate and kind thoughts.

If this type of warped thinking has affected you, let us know below.

In next week’s post we will conclude our Warped Thinking series with a look at the mental filter which lead to negative feelings about ourselves.