Cognitive Distortions PDF


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Page last updated: 30/08/2022

Cognitive Distortions PDF

This blog mentions some cognitive distortions PDF and explains in detail the cognitive distortions that we come across in our daily life.

There is a lot more to learn about cognitive distortion in this blog, so let’s not delay further and take a start from the definition of cognitive distortions.

You can download this Cognitive Distortions PDF here.

What are Cognitive Distortions?

Cognitive distortions are biases that we take on ourselves and the world around us.

Those are irrational thoughts and perceptions that we unknowingly perpetuate over time. 

Such trends and modes of thought are often subtle – it is difficult to identify them unless they are a frequent feature of your day-to-day thinking.

That’s why they can be so damaging because it’s hard to change what you don’t realize as something that needs to be fixed!

  • Cognitive distortions come in different forms, but they all have certain things in common. 
  • All cognitive distortions are as follows: 
  • Trends or patterns of thought or belief; 
  • This is false or incorrect; 
  • And they have the potential to cause mental trauma.

Some of the Most Common Cognitive Distortions

Beck and Burns are not the only two researchers who have devoted their careers to learn more about depression, cognitive dysfunction, and treatment for these disorders. 

There are also people who have taken up the torch for this work, mostly with their own knowledge of cognitive illusions.

As such, there are numerous cognitive distortions in the literature, but we’re going to limit this list to the sixteen most popular.

The first eleven interpretations come directly from the Burns Feeling Good Handbook (1989). 

1. All-or-Nothing Thinking / Polarized Thinking 

Often known as “Black-and-White Thought,” this illusion presents itself as an inability or refusal to see shades of gray.

In other words, you see issues in terms of extremes – something is either fantastic or terrible, you think you ‘re either perfect or a complete failure.

2. Overgeneralization

This sneaky variation takes one specific example or illustration and generalizes to an overall pattern.

For example, a student may be given a C on one test and conclude that she is dumb and a failure.

Over-generalizing can lead to overly negative emotions about yourself and your environment based on just one or two experiences.

3. Mental Filter

Similar to the overgeneralization, the deviation of the mental filter focuses on one particular negative piece of information and excludes all helpful news.

An example of this distortion is that one partner in a romantic relationship lives on a single negative comment made by the other partner and sees the relationship as hopelessly lost while ignoring years of positive comments and experiences. 

The mental filter will promote a distinctly cynical view of everything around you by concentrating only on the detrimental.

4. Disqualifying the Positive

On its contrary, the “Disqualifying the Positive” distortion accepts positive experiences but denies them instead of accepting them. 

For example, a person who gets a favorable comment at work may oppose the concept that they are a good employee and attribute a positive review to political correctness, or that their supervisor actually does not want to speak about their employees ‘ performance issues.

5. Jumping to Conclusions – Mind Reading

This “Jumping to Conclusions” bias occurs as an erroneous assumption that we know what another person is thinking.

It’s possible, of course, to have an understanding of what other people think, but this misunderstanding applies to the negative perceptions that we leap to. 

Having a stranger with an awkward face and jumping to the conclusion that they think something bad about you is an instance of this confusion.

6. Jumping to Conclusions – Fortune Telling

This distortion is like a sister to mind learning, fortune-telling describes the tendency to make some decisions and forecasts based on little or no proof and to keep them as the truth of the Gospel. 

An example of fortune-telling is a young, single woman who predicts that she will never find love or have a committed and happy relationship based solely on the fact that she has not yet found it.

There is clearly no way for her to know how her life will work out, but she views this assumption as a reality rather than one of a few potential outcomes.

7. Magnification (Catastrophizing) or Minimization

Also known as the “Binocular Trick” for its sneaky skewing of your point of view, this distortion includes overstating or eliminating the meaning, significance, or likelihood of things. 

An athlete who is usually a decent player but makes a mistake may increase the significance of the mistake and assume he is a bad teammate, while an athlete who wins a prestigious award in his sport may diminish the significance of the award and continue to assume that he is just a mediocre player.

8. Emotional Reasoning

This may be one of the most startling distortions for many readers, and it is also one of the most crucial to recognize and assess.

The logic behind this distortion is not shocking to most folks; rather, it is the realization that almost all of us have bought into this disturbance at one time or another. 

Emotional reasoning refers to recognition as a fact of one’s emotions. It can be interpreted as “I feel it, so it must be real.”

Just because we believe that something doesn’t mean it’s true; for example, we can become jealous and think that our spouse has feelings for somebody else, but it doesn’t make it the truth.

9. Should Statements

Another especially damaging distortion is the propensity to make “shall” claims.

Will statements be comments you make to yourself about what you “can” do, what you “want” to do, or what you “must” do.

This can also be extended to others, enforcing a collection of standards that are unlikely to be achieved. 

When we hold on too tightly to our “will” claims about ourselves, the consequence is always the shame that we can not live up to.

When we hold to our “shall” assumptions about others, we are usually frustrated by their inability to fulfill our standards, leading to frustration and resentment. 

10. Labeling and Mislabeling

Such patterns are essentially severe types of overgeneralization in which we apply value judgments to ourselves or others on the basis of one instance or observation.

11. Personalization

As the title suggests, this distortion involves taking everything privately or placing blame on yourself without any rational reason to believe that you are to blame. 

This distortion covers a wide range of situations, from assuming that you are the reason a friend did not enjoy a girl’s night out, to the more serious examples of believing that you are the cause of any kind of mood or irritation in those around you.

12. Control Fallacies

Control falsity manifests itself as one of two beliefs: (1) that we have no control over life and are helpless victims of fate, or (2) that we are in full control of ourselves and our surroundings, and that we are responsible for the feelings of those around us.

All views are negative, and both are equally inaccurate. 

Everyone is in full charge of what is going to happen to them, and no one has absolutely no power in their situation.

Even in severe situations where individuals seem to have no choice in what they’re doing or where they go, they still have some degree of control over how they approach their situation cognitively. 

13. Fallacy of Fairness

While we would all prefer to function in a world that is fair, the assumption of an inherently fair world is not based on reality and can promote bad emotions when confronted with evidence of life’s injustice.

14. Fallacy of Change

Another ‘fallacy” distortion includes waiting for someone to improve whether we push or inspire them enough.

This illusion is generally followed by a perception that our happiness and prosperity depend on others, causing us to believe that pushing others around us to improve is the only way to achieve what we want.

15. Always Being Right

Perfectionists and those battling with Imposter Syndrome will realize this distortion – the belief that we must always be correct.

For those who are having problems with this distortion, the idea that we might be wrong is absolutely unacceptable, and we will fight to a metaphorical demise to prove that we are right.

16. Heaven’s Reward Fallacy

The “Heaven’s Reward Fallacy” presents itself as a belief that one’s hardships, one’s pain, and one’s hard work can result in a just reward. 

Often, no matter how hard we try or how much we compromise, we ‘re not going to achieve what we’re trying to accomplish.

Thinking otherwise is a potentially damaging pattern of thinking that can lead to disappointment, frustration, anger, and even depression when the expected reward does not materialize.

Cognitive Distortions PDF

The following are some cognitive distortions PDF which can help you increase your knowledge about cognitive distortions. Just click them and you will be redirected to the page from where you can access the PDF easily.

The following is a list of some good books on cognitive distortions and how to deal with them.

These books are a great source of increasing knowledge.

Just click the book you wish to study and you will be redirected to the page form where you can access it.

FAQs: Cognitive Distortions PDF

What causes cognitive distortion?

A cognitive distortion is a distorted or excessive pattern of behavior that includes the emergence and perpetuation of psychopathological disorders, especially those that are more affected by psychosocial factors such as depression and fear.

What are “Should statements” cognitive distortion?

It is likely that a perceptual bias is at work as people catch themselves worrying about what “should” and “ought” to say or do.
Often such kinds of thoughts are embedded in an internalized family or cultural norms that may not be appropriate for an adult.

How do you fix cognitive distortions?

Cognitive distortions can be fixed in the following ways:
identify the thought, and segregate it.
Write down this one.
Then take the temperature of your discomfort. 
Ask yourself: Is it justifiable, or unfair, to think of that thought? 
What sort of distorted thinking? 
Write down a more rational vision to replace that which is distorted. 
Retake temperature in distress.

What is an example of cognitive-behavioral therapy?

Specific CBT strategies include the following: 
Understanding how to handle tension and distress (e.g., practicing calming strategies such as deep breathing, dealing with self-talk such as “I’ve done this before, only taking quick breaths,” and distraction) recognizing circumstances that are frequently ignored and slowly addressing expected scenarios.

What is cognitive anxiety?

Somatic anxiety is actually the expression of distress that is also known as somatization.
This is generally compared with cognitive anxiety, which is the behavioral representation of anxiety, or the basic cycles of thinking which arise during anxiety, such as fear or worry.

This blog explained in detail cognitive distortions and mentions cognitive distortions PDF, as a source of enhancing your knowledge about cognitive distortions.

If you have any questions or queries regarding this blog, let us know through your comments in the comments section. We will be glad to assist you.

Other mental health worksheets

Below are a list of other mental health worksheets which may interest you:

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Worksheets
Anger Management Worksheets
Anger Management Worksheets for Kids pdf
Anger Management Worksheets for Teens
Anger thermometer guide & worksheet
Anger Worksheets
Anxiety Triggers Worksheets


Cognitive Distortions: When Your Brain Lies to You (+ PDF Worksheets) by Courtney E. Ackerman (2020)


Cognitive Distortions – Therapist Aid


Definitions of Cognitive Distortions


Cognitive Distortions – Campus Mind Works 

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