Also known as ‘perceptual distortions’ is not just one symptom, but lots of different Symptoms all housed under one name. The term was coined in the 1960s by a psychiatrist called Aaron Beck, but we are not here for a history lesson, we are here to talk about the different aspects of Cognitive Distortions and how you might learn to deal with it.
What is the BPD Symptom of Cognitive Distortions?
There are many common distorted thinking patterns, but the main ten which has been identified and diagnosed are Polarized thinking, Overgeneralization, Catastrophizing, Personalization, Mind reading, Mental filtering, Discounting the positive, “Should” statements, Emotional reasoning and Labeling and I will break down each of those as separate BPD symptoms. But in short, it means an error in the way you are thinking. You might think someone is being nice with they are not, or even worse you think they are being rude to you went they are trying to be nice.
What Can Cause Cognitive Distortions?
It is thought it is a form of survival instinct so you push away or to the extreme edges in order to prevent yourself from getting hurt. So you lash out just in case, or you think bad of someone just in case they hurt you emotionally. So it could be down to nothing, or it might be caused by a life trauma, but as for what triggers it that list is almost endless and it is really down to the individual.
How Bad Can Cognitive Distortions be?
In short? Life breaking. To say cognitive distortions are not good for you rational or healthy long-term is an understatement. To some, it can result in deep depression and severe anxiety that is bad enough to make you not want to leave the house or get dressed and washed, not want to live at all. Sadly the Cognitive Distortions we do have with BPD are often negative meaning anyone trying to help us or even love us is shut down quicker than a high street shop.
Does Everyone With BPD Suffer From Cognitive Distortions?
As with any symptom of BPD you might not suffer from this at all. While many of us will describe this as one of the main symptoms of BPD, others don’t get it at all but get much worse symptoms of something else. Sadly not getting Cognitive Distortions doesn’t mean you don’t have BPD and it doesn’t mean you definitely have BPD if you do. As always with any mental health condition, you should seek professional help and advice if you are unsure about your diagnoses or indeed getting a diagnosis in the first place.
How Can I Stop Cognitive Distortions?
The good news here is that this is one BPD symptom you can learn to control. Doing steps or stages in your brain before commenting, talking or sending a text will help you correct a lot of your own Cognitive Distortions over time as the more you do it the better at reversing it you will become. You first need to identify the negative thoughts, reframe them in a different situation and work out if they will be a benefit to you personally. The first steps of doing all that are to start writing down your thoughts and other negative interactions. That way you will see what is happening and how often it is occurring. Doing this is a big part of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which you also might want to consider.
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