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Cognitive Distortion: Change Your Perspective To Change Your Life

Looking through glasses held up to the sky

When all you catch, see or notice is through a negative filter, dismissing anything that doesn’t fit, indicates that you may be using a mental filter. Like looking through ‘gloomy specs’ dismissing the positive and catching all the negative stuff.

If you are using mental filters or ‘gloomy specs’, how helpful is it? When this distorted way of thinking (cognitive distortion) goes unchallenged, it can lead to anxiety and depression.

Once you begin thinking down a negative path it becomes more difficult to allow a positive thought to enter your mind that you will believe.

Mental filters will fuel your anxiety, increase feeling bad about yourself, lower your self-esteem, and just make you miserable.

You can take the following step to remove the filter:

1. Recognize What You Filtered Out

Recognize by identifying the situation or life event that affected you.

2. Become Aware

Become aware of the thoughts and beliefs about the situation, including your self-talk and how you view things.

3. Challenge Yourself

Challenge your negative thinking. Beliefs you have held onto for so long can feel like facts. Be aware you may not see the flaws in your logic. Know that feelings can lie to you!

4. Adjust Yourself

Adjust your untrue thoughts and beliefs with positive, accurate thoughts. Forgive yourself if you made a mistake, focus on the positive, reframe your thoughts and encourage yourself to make a positive change.

5. Learn To Accept Compliments

When the filter has caused us to have low self-esteem, the tendency is to be more resistant to compliments, even though it is a time when we need it the most. Set a personal goal to tolerate compliments when you receive them. They may make you feel uncomfortable (you can count on it). Try preparing a simple set of responses to the compliments you receive to help avoid your reflexive reaction of batting compliments away. Train yourself to use these responses automatically: “Thank you” or “How kind of you to say”.

The impulse to deny or reject compliments will diminish in time, which will be an indicator that your self-esteem is getting stronger.

6. Affirm Yourself with Self-Compassion

We damage our self-esteem, lowering it even more by being self-critical, defeating our goal to raise it. Self-criticism is useless, although it feels persuasive. Intentionally substitute self-compassion when your negative self- talk kicks in and is self-critical. Ask yourself what would I say to my best friend if they were in this situation? We need to be as compassionate with ourselves as we are with a dear friend. Self-compassion will build you up and help repair the damage done by our critical self.

6. As A Bonus: Let’s Add the Physical

Prioritize staying physically active. Physical activity has been known to raise your mood and has a positive impact on self- esteem. Dr. Julia Samton M.D., a board-certified neurologist and psychiatrist in New York City, stated, “Incorporating a regular exercise routine into your day can help you to feel strong physically and mentally, giving you a sense of accomplishment and feelings of self-worth.”