Irrational Beliefs in Recovery

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cognitive distortion
 (redirected from Cognitive distortions)cognitive distortion
errors in thinking that continue even when there is obvious contradictory evidence.  
Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 9th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.

Hi it's Dermot again. If you read my last blog, you will know that this is a follow up to that blog and part of a "Recovery from Addiction Series", If not read on:

Cognitive Distortions

In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), identifying Cognitive Distortions or Irrational Beliefs are key in helping you to start identifying your Core Beliefs

Cognitive Distortions are simply thoughts with related feelings we have about how we see ourselves and the World around us, and our place in it. In most cases they are not factual, only imagined or made worse than they are.

When I first came into recovery, I'd never heard of Cognitive Distortions, but I had heard of character defects, which where mainly behaviours and attitudes. When I was first exposed to CBT and Cognitive Distortions, it was like an epiphany moment for me. It all made sense, and from there I was able to start putting together the peices of the jigsaw puzzle that was my past.

Here are examples of some Cognitive Distortions:


All-or-nothing thinking

Also called black-and-white thinking. You view a situation in only two categories instead of on a continuum.



Also called fortune telling. You predict the future negatively without considering other, more likely outcomes.


Disqualifying or discounting the positive

You unreasonably tell yourself that positive experiences or qualities do not count.


Emotional Reasoning

You think something must be true because you “feel” (actually believe) it so strongly, ignoring or discounting evidence to the contrary.



You put a fixed, global label on yourself or others without considering that the evidence might more reasonably lead to a less disastrous conclusion.


Magnification/ minimization

When you evaluate yourself, another person or a situation, you unreasonably magnify the discomfort and dismiss the long term benefits e.g. I can’t stand it, versus. It will be great when I have it finished. E.g. driving test, degree programme, the house painted or business.


Mental Filter.

Also called abstraction. You only pay attention to the information that fits with your belief. You pay undue attention to negative details instead of seeing the whole picture.


Mind reading

You believe you know what others are thinking, failing to consider other,

more likely possibilities.



You make sweeping negative conclusions that go far beyond the current situation.



You believe others are behaving negatively because of you, without considering more plausible explanations for their behaviour.


Making demands “shoulds” “musts” “have to” “need to” statements.

Also called imperatives. You have a precise, fixed idea of how you or others should behave and you overestimate how bad it is that these expectations are not met.


Tunnel vision

You only see the negative aspects of the situation.


What I found by becoming aware of my own Cognitive Distortions and realize that as they where created by me, they could be challenged and changed by me, My life began to change rapidly. Thats why I have added "Recovery from Addiction Series" Cognitive Distortions.

From this realisation I learned that there are a lot of things in my life that I can change, which has encouraged me to confidently make choices & decisions & stand by those decisions with conviction. 

My next article is on Courage, stay tuned.

The articles in "Recovery from Addiction" Series, are the opinion of the author and if you would like to contribute to it, please leave a comment in the comment box below. If you want to subscribe, for free, to any further blogs of mine please leave your email in the blue box below.

Recovery is about growth and everyone does grow at a different pace. My advice to anyone in early recovery is to wait at least 2 years before making any major life changing decisions that might have emotional ramifications. An example: get a mortgage, get married, change career, emigrate. In light of this everyone has dreams and we all do want to better our lives in one way or another, so it is important in early recovery to start to put those dreams into reality by creating achievable goals which can be reached in time. I found in my early recovery, although I had dreams, I wasn’t aware of creating goals and my life unfolded by default. It turned out well for me, but had I had clear goals, I do feel that it would have been even better.

I do try to learn from my mistakes, and that is why they are little miracles in themselves that happen for a reason. I am a growth seeking being I will continue to seek change in myself. What motivates me is the Pain – Pleasure, which moves me away from my pain points (a lack of finances, time & peace of mind) to my pleasure points (freedom of finances, time & peace of mind). The way I have found to achieve this freedom and to move away from the “Groundhog Day” of life is through on line marketing. I have taken this step into the abyss, I’m not tech savvy at all, and with the support of SFM, I am working my way through it. The internet is here to stay and is the future for all of us, so don’t get left behind because it is gaining momentum. If you want to learn what I am learning and are in a point in your life where you want change, then I offer you, through my mentors, a no obligation FREE 7 day video series to watch.



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