Blogmas 7 – Cognitive Distortions to Restructure by the end of 2019

People will do anything, no matter how absurd to avoid facing their own souls, once wrote Carl Jung. We are all biased with different thinking patterns and brain shortcuts that we created in time to have time to cope with life and change. Sometimes these cognitive distortions make it hard for us to progress in life, and the universe keeps throwing at us the same lessons in different formats, and we still don’t get it. So, this December, and Blogmas, by the end of the year, let’s work together to restructure those mental biases we all deal with.

There are 13 common cognitive distortions that I will be briefly explaining and you could work on one at a time until the end of 2019 to make sure you step into 2020 with a new fresh thinking.

1.Overgeneralising – You see a constant, negative pattern based on one event. Maybe you think that if you did not get the position you applied for, you are not good enough and you think there is no point in applying to a future job ad. But, you base your future thoughts and eventually behaviours around a single event. Step out of your mind and don’t take your thoughts so seriously.

2.Blaming / Denying – You blame others for your problems or mistakes OR you blame yourself when it wasn’t entirely your fault. You could say that you did not obtain that job because you did not have connections or because the company liked a specific type of personality or that you did not prepare for the interview. If you indeed did not prepare for the interview, that’s easily fixed, next time, you know what you need to focus more on, since you passed the CV screening. If you believe that the company or another person is to blame for your failure, think again, maybe you should consider that when you put the blame entirely on others for something you did not achieved, it could be that you are avoiding to feel the real emotions behind your lack of success. The real emotion behind that could lie in the truth that you did not prepare enough, did not have enough experience, did not have enough of confidence to show it, and so on. Always try to see beyond the surfaced emotion and train of thoughts.

3.Shoulds – you have a rigid code of conduct dictating how you and others should behave. You criticise yourself harshly when you fail to follow these rules. Should lists are so dangerous to the mind. They are transforming you into a perfectionist, into a critic and that’s not at all equal to self-love and mindfulness and good judgement. On the contrary, shoulds are infectious and must be replaced with something more kind to ourselves: the right to make mistakes, the patience to learn from one’s mistakes and the determination to challenge an existing no-longer serving belief, such as the “should theory”. Also, to gain more understanding on the topic, have a read here on the crossroads between should and must in the pursuit of happiness.

4.All or nothing thinking – You see things as absolutes, no grey areas. This ties very well with the one above. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and to understand that all things come and go. There is no white or black, as much as we would all want to shortcut things that we go through, and categorise it to make our lives easier, life is complex, so, so is our thinking.

5.Negativity bias – You notice all the negatives, but fail to notice the positives. For this one, sometimes, our parents have raised us with their own biases as their own knowledge to keep us safe from the world and to protect our future reckless choices by implementing a fear emotion in us every time we might get attracted by adventurous thoughts or behaviours. It’s ok to let go of that. Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo and even if a positive attitude does not spare you of negatives happening in your life, you should know, we need negatives too to develop the positives. There is something good in every bad, and something bad in every good. There is no white or black.

6. Catastrophising – You always expect the worst. As much as this could be a self defensive mechanism, and sometimes it turns out to be good to have this idea in your head, as you actually get surprised by life, and something resplendent is thrown at you, this should be rarely thought or used. You cannot always expect the worst. You are made up of an energy of your thoughts. If you only believe bad things will happen, guess what will you be attracting in your life? Remember, you are energy. I will share with you a secret. Remember when you tell yourself or to others: “Don’t forget to… something?”. Do you remember what actually always happens? You forget or they forget. Why? Because you have trained your mind into a NO suggestion. Do NOT remember to do that. Instead, use the phrase “Remember to do this/ I will remember to….”. Use it and let me know how it worked for you in the comments! Also, to change this thinking pattern, I will give another example. Let’s say you think – “I can’t stand this” – to restructure this cognitive distortion you could say “I am severely distressed, but I will handle it. I can manage it!”.


7.Labelling – You label yourself negatively. You always speak of yourself with use of negative words. Sometimes we do this, because we lack confidence in ourselves and we tend to use less than positive thinking and sayings so that whoever hears us, can actually demount our beliefs. But when you are alone, there is no one to tell you otherwise. You never believe the mirror, and if you did, it would anyway tell you the opposite of what you want to actually hear, because you are saying it to yourself, in the hope you can cling to something that can save your day. Again, as Carl Jung pointed out, “people would do anything, to avoid facing their own souls.” Stop using bad words, such as poor, inferior, unacceptable, imperfect, defective, faulty, careless, miserable, rotten, incompetent, inept, awful, appalling, terrible, pathetic, useless, lousy, deficient and start replacing them with superb, jubilant, adorable, alluring, attractive, blooming, celestial, classy, dandy, elegant, divine, enchanting, exquisite (my favourite word) fancy, fabulous, gorgeous, incomparable, irresistible, magnetic, mesmerising, ravishing, splendid, sublime, top-notch. Because you are all of that and beyond. You are beautiful. And you deserve to live your life knowing that.

8.Magical thinking – You think everything will be better when … (you’re thinner, smarter, richer, get a new job, etc). You will not be better if you live believing something that has a potentiality to not come true because you are not acting upon it. Even if you do act upon it, a lot of the times, this magical thinking relates to not really being practical about what could lead you in the spot you believe it’s going to transform you into this queen of happiness. Again, you should refer to the above, but do not believe your thoughts, and don’t take them so seriously. All things come and go in life, and practising mindfulness and gratefulness is more achievable (see my Blogmas 3 – link here and 4 – link here ) and can break down these thinking patterns of magically becoming something you think you want, when deep down, there is something else you need to focus on. Remember Carl Jung: “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.” What are you avoiding by making use of magical thinking?

9.Over-personalizing – You make things personal, when they aren’t. You believe other people’s opinions are facts. You think what other people do or say is in reaction to you. I used to be a daily user of this destructive habit. Working in a call centre, you get a lot of people annoyed at the service or product and they say things such as “You do not understand”, “You think you know it all”, “You must listen to me, I am the customer” and I would easily get demotivated, annoyed, angry and sometimes even believe of myself of being incompetent. But I guess, you need to go through it to get out of it. Just be aware of this cognitive distortion and distort it in your favour. Instead of thinking of yourself to do everything well because you cannot cope with another negative feedback, say something like “I would prefer to perform well, but it’s not a disaster if I don’t.”

10.Mind -reading – you make assumptions about what other people are thinking. And we all are culprits on this one. We make assumptions because we are judgemental. And this is hard to get rid of. To reach that though, you first need to acknowledge there is a problem. That way you are half way through. For this, you can train yourself when speaking to people by listening in a mindful way, being fully present, without trying to control the conversation or the person you are speaking to think your way or convince them of something and to be free of judging their perspective. Rather, try understanding their perspective and see through their glasses. What do they see? What would they want to hear from you? What would you like to hear if you were in their shoes?

11.Double standard – You hold yourself to a higher standard than anyone else. I am the personification of this cognitive distortion. I am a perfectionist and I am still figuring out how to restructure this distortion in my mind. A lot of the times, people experiencing double standard demand a lot of themselves, are severe to themselves if they do not stand up to their own elevated expectations of what they should have accomplished and they may surround themselves with people who aren’t that professional. Sometimes they do, but they immediately feel the person and when they see that everyone that they’ve met so far fails their standards, they might start to overgeneralize and more biases are born. Be careful what you tolerate, you are teaching people how to treat you. If you demand a lot of yourself, and show this to others, they might start asking more from you, because they believe of you being capable of delivering more than anticipated. This puts you in a position of stress and pressure to accommodate your standard to even higher ones, because for a person with a double standard, nothing is ever good enough.

12. Fallacy of fairness – you think things should work out according to what you think is fair. People do not have the same standard as you do. People have their own level of fairness and correctness and consciousness. I get a lot frustrated by the fact that people do not see things as I see them and this thinking pattern falls into this category because I expect them to think the same way regarding specific general topics, such as cleanliness, as an example. The truth is, people are unique and so is their viewing on the world, and so is their behaviour. What you think is trash might be someone else’s treasure and vice-versa. That’s how you need to think all aspects of life to heal this cognitive distortion. Also, do remember that “everything that irritates us about others, can lead us to an understanding of ourselves” as Carl Jung said.

13.Emotional Reasoning – you think your feelings are reality. In fact, they only portray your perception of the world. They are unique and they do not mean they are highlighting the reality around you. If you feel crap, it does not mean you are horrible. That’s just your interpretation of an emotion. Step out of that behavioural pattern and be kind to yourself. Appreciate what you have and who you are and who you are becoming. To reconstruct this cognitive distortion of emotional reasoning, you have to start thinking that your mental health is to be treated with the same importance as your physical health. When you think “I am worthless/ I feel worthless” do believe that YOUR EMOTIONS DO NOT DICTATE YOUR REALITY and say it to you out loud: “My emotions do not dictate my reality”.

Be patient with yourself as nothing in nature blooms all year round.

More words to heal you and start the transformation process until the end of the year: GATHER COURAGE LIKE WILDFLOWERS. (Jak Major)

Sometimes, when you’re in a dark place, you think you have been buried but actually you have been planted.

I would like to end today’s Blogmas with one word, this is EQUANIMITY.

Equanimity is a mental calmness, composure and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation. I believe that all these cognitive distortions are ways we use to cope with life and the experiences we face. We need mindfulness and lots of self-care to achieve this equanimity thinking pattern and I am confident with enough information and explanation and exposure to uplifting content, we can all be examples of challenging our existing beliefs and restructuring our most common cognitive distortions that stop us from truly come to terms with tranquillity and peace and our own unique story of life or career success.

Which cognitive distortion do you find yourself hard to overcome?

If I weren’t afraid, I would …

While I was considering whether to post this or not, I could say that even the existence of this post would follow the title. I am writing this in the hope that this exercise will help someone in the same way it helped me. I am reading a new book which I would not like to disclose more about here, as, I need to get a firm grip of how I can put its content into words, without sounding like a weirdo. In this book, I am learning about myself. One of the things explained there, relates to our spirits.

Our spirits give us life.


Recognizing that it’s your spirit that gives you life helps you recognize the formidable force that is YOU. Your spirit has its own presence – a unique vibration, that’s totally distinct from your personality (which to a large degree is formed as a defensive shield around your spirit). The best way to connect with your spirit is to start recognizing what makes you come alive. Why do you need to connect with your spirit? So, that your life can follow its destiny easily, so that your life flows, so that you are happy and content and you get the best chances to fulfill your life. The book highlights specific questions we can ask ourselves to explore what our spirits are really like. These questions seem more like those questions for personal development and career discovery tools. They are something like this: Where in your life do you feel the most competent? or What activities engage you so fully that you lose yourself? or What lifts and inspires your soul? Now, these questions I have come across a myriad of times and they never really spoke to me deeply. I could not relate that much. However, there is one question, which you can guess from the title, or more, an affirmation exercise, which clicked something in me. It made me open up. This is as follows:

If I weren’t afraid, I would …

overcoming fear combating fear

If I weren’t afraid, I would share with you everything that I wrote for this exercise. But I am still learning to do that. 

If I weren’t afraid, I would resign and move back home, rent a 1 year studio, live life with my husband as if we were rich and find our exactly what we want to do and do everything we have never done before together.

If I weren’t afraid, I would buy a camera and a good laptop and start doing Youtube professionally or creatively.

If I weren’t afraid, I would take all the courses I wanted to take part in all these past years to see why they are of such interest to me and to have more knowledge about the subjects, get a diploma, maybe even reveal my vocation.

If I weren’t afraid, I would visit Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain and other foreign places.

If I weren’t afraid, I would play more (for example I would make my own dresses based on dresses I love from designers I can’t afford now)

how to deal with fear and failure

If I weren’t afraid, I would dress up more.

If I weren’t afraid, I would play with make up.

If I weren’t afraid, I would have a cat or 2.

If I weren’t afraid, I would buy a piece of land and do my own ecological house. See this link so you can understand what I mean.

If I weren’t afraid, I would create a digital magazine.

If I weren’t afraid, I would be less secretive…

If I weren’t afraid, I would have more fun. Be more open. Believe more in people.

how to stop fear in your life

If we weren’t afraid of our self-critiques, we would feed more our spirits and be more fulfilled. We would be better equipped to deal with ourselves first and foremost, and then, be prepared to help others do the same. We could live in paradise. Do you know what experiences, activities and energies give you strength and fortify and nourish you at your core, leaving you feeling satisfied, content with life and comfortable in your own skin? I do know, deep down inside. If I weren’t afraid, I would pursue that. I would share that. I would act on it. I could be successful.

What delights and surprises you, what draws you into life, helping you to embrace it head on and brings you to peace within yourself? That’s what this If I weren’t afraid, I would… exercise is all about. This specific exercise awakened my spirit and when this happens, you are more connected with yourself and are able to see your path clearer. When this thing happens, the next one is that, you start implementing small changes which will lead you to your joyful life goal and purpose.

I have learned to take notice of what fortifies and feeds my own unique spirit, paying special attention to how sensitive and aware I am of it.

Do you nurture your spirit with the experiences it needs in order to thrive? 

how to live with fear

My dear,

There are days in which the only thing you’ll want to do, it’ll be to forget the mess you’re in.

You will be upset. Upset on the situation. On how you did not manage the situation in that perfect manner you expect of yourself to have done it. Because when you were not impecable and perfect as desired to have been and failed it, you have failed yourself. This form of self-criticism is lowering your self esteem levels, simply because you’re trying to be more than what a human being can be: a robot with all the right moves and words, having the best solution and the fast paced style to deal with problems in that exceptional manner everyone strives to embrace. All of that is the embodiment of perfectionism’s symptoms. Being afraid to be wrong, to act wrong, to be vulnerable, being afraid to ask others for help to not seem weak in other peoples’ eyes. Afraid that you will lose your power in your own eyes, most of all, you fear that. Because you are not at the level that you imagined or desired yourself to be at by this age/time/etc.

You, my dear, are afraid to not do the right thing, to not correctly follow the steps you’d been told to follow because you are afraid of being judged. You are afraid to actually not be right. You are so demanding of others that you believe the others will judge you just as you judge them, with the same level of perfectionism and mistake free style. You are afraid because you know you are not right on some occasions and you are afraid to be caught and shown to others how weak, vulnerable and fragile you really are. You have a fobia to not make mistakes. Afraid to live, the fear to have joy, to enjoy yourself, as you do not deserve it, based on your own self critique.

But I want to tell you, you are not wrong or right. You are both. You are not a devil just as you are not a saint. You are a human being that lives on this wonderful Earth, hoping to a better world and a simpler life. And so, the things you do are not good or bad, they are human actions prone to heaven or hell, and you learn that they have the power to define your higher self. If you do one good thing, it won’t mean you are a good human being just as if you do a bad thing, it won’t class you as a horrible human being. You are alive. That means, to be good and bad, because all human beings committ some stupid things, behave irrationally and say stuff they do not mean.

What you need to do is learn the lesson of life: you are only NOW. Regrets, mistakes, fears, shame, not trusting one’s self, shyness and other negative or low vibration emotions and feelings are part of life. But you do not deserve all that. You experience it because you punish yourself with that without even realizing it. What you do in this NOW can amplify a bad or a good action you have made.

STOP using the NOW to showcase your superiority towards others. You are not more important than others. Acting impulsively only displays your authority, or rather your desire to portray authority, you want to show your power, your ego. You want to tell the world you are someone too. When you act impulsive, you want people to give you attention, to appreciate you for whatever power you show at that time, you want to raise your self esteem levels through how you imagine they would act if they would agree you are right, fair, perfect. When you act impulsive, you expect to be right. And you are not. You are wrong in thinking that way. You use the NOW so wrong. Spread that love and kindness like confetti, they say. It is hard, but it will make you feel better.

You actually want to feel good about yourself. Be patient and wonderful things will come your way. As with all human beings. Live in the NOW with the correct positive mindset, and expect that to multiply and bring you whatever you are waiting for.


Big Ideas simply explained

How the mind makes use of information gathered from the external world has been a major concern for philosophers and psychologists throughout history. Exactly how do we use the information gained through our senses? In the early 1970s cognitive and mathematical psychologist Roger Shepard proposes new theories of how the brain processes “sense data”. Shepard argued that our brains not only process sense data, but also make inferences from it, based on an internal model of the physical world where we can visualize objects in 3D. The experiment he used to prove this, in which subjects tried to ascertain whether 2 tables – each drawn from a different angle – were the same, showed that we are able to perform what Shepard called “mental rotation”: turning one of the tables in our mind’s eye for comparison. Perception, Shepard said, is “externally guided hallucination” and he described the processes of dreaming and hallucination as “internally simulated perception.”

Big Ideas simply explained mapology guides creative maps 3

Until very recently, our perception of risk and the way that we make our decisions was considered to be more a matter of probability and statistics than psychology. When faced with uncertainty, people base their decisions on “rule of thumb” – on specific examples or small samples. Consequently, judgments can frequently be wrong, as they are based on information that comes easily to mind, rather than that has actual probability. We tend to overestimate the likelihood of things with low probability (such as a plane crash) and underestimate those with a higher probability (such as crashing while drink driving).


What does all this mean?

First of all, perception is the main ingredient we require to gather the information and either make decisions or negotiate. We need specific tools to make sure our minds do not wander on different places than the correct path. In order for us to make better decisions, to negotiate, to understand how to handle different type of information, Mapology Guides have come up with new brain maps, brain tools to help us cope with the difficult task of making decisions and negotiating, which are the main activities of our day to day lives.

If you remember last year, I have written a blog post here, on one of their creative brain tools maps, What’s bugging you. 


Because we are constantly on the lookout for causal connections, let’s use specific tools that will improve our cognitive journeys and enhance our positive marks into the practical world. The way we perceive the environment therefore can be guided. So let’s use something unique, creative and positive to do that.

Big Ideas simply explained mapology guides creative maps 3You can purchase your creative brain tools maps here!