Cognitive Distortion Roundup

Last night, I played No Man’s Sky with a good friend for a few hours, then logged out around 11pm to try and sleep. It was a failed attempt. Most nights for the past week I’ve been crying for about an hour and finally dropping off into the nether, exhausted. Last night the crying just went on for about three extra hours. It wasn’t nonstop crying. I would ground myself, get focused, and try again. My brain just kept going back to all the mistakes. Being idle just gave my brain too much time.

So at 3am, I got out of bed and sat down on the couch to do Therapy Homework. I grounded myself again and began looking at the Ten Forms of Twisted Thinking handout so I could identify and address how I do them myself.

You see things in black-or-white categories. If a situation falls short of perfect, you see it as a total failure.
I used to do this quite a lot, calling myself a perfectionist. Not so much in recent years, though. Some things, when finished, were ‘good enough.’ My marriage, though, is viewed as a total failure. I can recall good times, sweet times, but it’s over now, so it’s a total failure in my eyes. Probably in her eyes too.

You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat by using words like “always” or “never.”
I never improve my relationship skills. I will always be the noncommunicative partner in a relationship.

You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of reality becomes darker.
While I’m not sure if I have OCD or not, I blame a lot of this distortion on that.

You reject positive experience by insisting they “don’t count”
This is a big one for me. I discount my achievements all the time by thinking they’re nothing special or that anyone else could have done it in my place. In my marriage, I’ve said that the meager efforts I put forth didn’t count. Because… well… they didn’t. Is that me misperceiving them? Or am I right?

You interpret things negatively when there’s no facts to support the conclusion, such as “mind-reading” or “fortune-telling.”
I’m bad a mind-reading. Assuming people will react the worst way to something. Assuming she would have dismissed compliments I gave her as ‘checking the box’ or ‘putting in the minimum’

You exaggerate the importance of your problems or minimize the importance of your desirable qualities.
I see zero value in myself or my life. I’m sure other people see value, but I don’t.

You assume that your negative emotions reflect the way things really are
I feel like a terrible person, so I must be a terrible person. I wasted so many years of her life, after all.

You tell yourself that things should be the way you hoped/expected. They’re directed against yourself to lead to guilt and frustration.
I should’ve been a better husband to her, should’ve said and done all the things she needed me to.

An extreme form of All-or-Nothing thinking, Instead of saying ‘I made a mistake’ you’ll tell yourself ‘I’m a loser’
I am a failure. In so many ways.

When you hold yourself/others personally accountable for something that isn’t entirely under your/their control.
Is it possible that there’s one thing on this list I don’t do? I wrote about this before. I blame myself for the marriage failing and, despite some people trying to tell me it’s a ‘two-way street,’ I think I can honestly say that she tried from her end of the street. So I think that I may be innocent of this one. I’ll take a small victory where I can.

* List and explanations provided from The Feeling Good Handbook by David D. Burns, 1999

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