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“When distant and unfamiliar and complex things are communicated to great masses of people, the truth suffers a considerable and often a radical distortion. The complex is made over into the simple, the hypothetical into the dogmatic, and the relative into an absolute. ”

~ Walter Lippman

At one time or another, you’ve either thought it or said it aloud to someone, “What were you thinking?”  Most times the unspoken answer is, “Well, I wasn’t.”  Perhaps, more accurately, the answer may be “My self-limiting beliefs got in my way…again!”

This question, “What were you thinking?”, was addressed recently in a 3-part newsletter series.

Are you someone who says to themselves, “I always fail when I try something new; so, I fail at everything I try.”?  Perhaps this sounds a bit more familiar; “If only I was younger, I would’ve gotten the job.”

The language you use every day (spoken and unspoken) both represents and impacts how you experience your world.  In your attempt to capture thoughts, ideas and describe what you see around you using words, things can get “lost in the translation”.

Information is lost through “deletion” of information, “generalization” and “Cognitive Distortion”.  Distortion is where some aspects of ideas and experiences are given more weight and focus than others.  Cognitive Distortions are simply ways your mind convinces you of something that isn’t true. These inaccurate thoughts are most often used to reinforce negative thinking or emotion, telling you things that may sound rational and accurate, when in fact, they are not.  Everyone does this consciously and unconsciously.  How you process information provides pointers to your underlying beliefs about yourself, others and the world.

In Part 1, of our 3-part series, let’s take a look at 5 of 15 Cognitive Distortions.  At the end of the series, you’ll have an opportunity to find out more about what you can do about your “stinkin’ thinkin” and improve your rate of success – however YOU define success.

 5 Cognitive Distortions (Part 1)

  1. Filtering – taking the negative details and magnifying them while filtering out any or all positive aspects of a situation.  For example:  You have a great evening with friends dining at a restaurant, but your steak was overcooked and that ruined the whole evening.
  2. Polarized Thinking (All or Nothing, Black or White) – seeing things as right or wrong, black or white, all or nothing, this way or that way with nothing in between – no middle ground.  If your performance falls short of perfect, then you see yourself as a total failure.  For example:  “I didn’t finish writing that paper so it was a complete waste of time.”
  3. Over-generalization – coming to a general conclusion based on a single incident or single piece of evidence.  If something bad happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again.  For example:  She always does that.
  4. Catastrophizing – expecting disasters to strike, no matter what.  This is where you “magnify or minimize”  and use what ifs (what if this happens to me?).  You see things more dramatically or less important than what they actually are.  For example:  “I forgot to send that e-mail!  Now my boss won’t trust me anymore, and I’ll never get that raise and I’ll probably get fired.”
  5. Personalization (Blame) – believing that everything others do or say is some sort of direct, personal reaction to the person.  You may also compare yourself to others to determine who is smarter, better dressed, etc.  For example:  “If only my boss hadn’t yelled at me, I wouldn’t have been so angry and would not have had that fender-bender.”

To be continued…

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about Cognitive Distortions and how they may be impeding your progress and success?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

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