As I continue with my studies to become a certified health coach (!!) one of my favorite topics is behavioral psychology. At its core, behavioral psychology is all about habits – how we acquire (and eliminate) certain behaviors through conditioning. Every time I read a new theory it’s like getting an insider tip and I wanted to share one that anyone can use when trying to adopt a new habit. It’s called the 10 Cognitive Irrational Distortions**. These are 10 things that people do that get in the way of their progress.
The trick is, once you’re able to identify them, you can start tuning them out.
1. All-or-Nothing Thinking – Looking at things in absolutes without acknowledging the grey area. (I’m either a healthy person or I’m not. And I’m not.)
2. Overgeneralization – Viewing a negative event as a never ending pattern of defeat (I ate too much junk food today, just like I do every single day. I’ll never be able to stop.)
3. Mental Filter – Dwelling on the negatives and ignoring the positives (It doesn’t really matter that I ate well today because I didn’t get to the gym.)
4. Discounting the Positive – Insisting that accomplishments or positive qualities ‘don’t count’ (Of course I ate healthy today, I wasn’t near any junk food. I still don’t have any self-control when it counts.)
5. Jumping to Conclusions – Assuming that people are reacting negatively when there is no evidence or arbitrarily predicting that things will turn out badly (I’m overweight and I’ll never be able to get in shape.)
6. Magnification and/or Minimization – Blowing things way out of proportion or vice versa (I didn’t eat a healthy breakfast so it’s going to ruin my entire day.)
7. Emotional Reasoning – Believing that your feelings are true even when there is no evidence (I feel like an idiot, so I must be one.)
8. ‘Should’ or catastrophe statements – criticizing oneself or other people with ‘shoulds’ or ‘shouldn’ts’ (I should’ve gone to the gym today.)
9. Labeling – Identifying with one’s shortcomings (I’m a failure and have no self-control. Instead of saying ‘I made a mistake.’)
10. Personalization and Blame – Blaming oneself for something that the person was not entirely responsible for (All of our plans fell apart today and it’s all my fault.)
Do you catch yourself using any of these? What do you do to combat these kinds of negative thoughts?
**Adapted from the ACE Health Coach Manual. For more information, go to ACEFitness.com
Photo: Markus Spiske / http://www.temporausch.com / CC-BY