– Hi, I’m Dr. Tracey Marks, a psychiatrist, and I make videos on mental health education and self-improvement. Today I want to help you identify automatic thoughts that you have that can affect how you feel about yourself and others. We call these cognitive distortions. We all have them to some degree, and the more you have and the more rigidly you stick to them, the more habit they can wreak in your life.
Here are eight common cognitive distortions. And this graphic comes from my 2020 calendar scenario for any given situation. And this is a common distortion used in people who have health anxiety or panic attacks. Whenever you feel light-headed, it means that you’re going to faint, and if you stand conscious for too long, you may stop breathing and die.
So you’re afraid to be alone because if you get dizzy, you need to have someone around to revive you. Now, there’s nothing scientific about that conclusion. Yes, dizziness can be an early sign that you’re going to faint, but there are many other non-serious reasons that you can feel dizzy as well.
But taking the thought to the point of death because you stop breathing is the ultimate catastrophe that’s not even realistic. If you tend to think this way, you may not start with the most catastrophic thought, but you assume adverse outcomes like losing your job or people hating you, an,d then over time, it progresses to become more and more extreme and unrealistic.
Then there’s Personalization. With this, you think everything is about you. Let’s say you get a call from work and you’re told that you can’t come in because something caused a power surge and the servers down. You immediately worried if it’s because you didn’t shut down your computer, or if it’s because you didn’t tell your team not to do the massive data upload overnight.
And maybe these are things that could cause such an outage, but probably not, you just think that you’re at the centre of bad things somehow and that people are thinking badly about you because of it. Do you recognise any of these in yourself? I’ll have a follow-up video on how to challenge these thoughts.
But for now, mould over and think about which ones apply to you so that you’ll be ready to address them in the next article. See you next time.