Common Cognitive Distortions

Common Cognitive Distortions

A partial list from Robert L. Leahy, Stephen J. F. Holland, and Lata K. McGinn’s Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders (2012).

1. Mind reading. You assume that you know what people think without having sufficient evidence of their thoughts. “He thinks I’m a loser.”

2. Fortune-telling. You predict the future negatively: things will get worse, or there is danger ahead. “I’ll fail that exam,” or “I won’t get the job.”

3. Catastrophizing. You believe that what has happened or will happen will be so awful and unbearable that you won’t be able to stand it. “It would be terrible if I failed.”

4. Labeling. You assign global negative traits to yourself and others. “I’m undesirable,” or “He’s a rotten person.”

5. Discounting positives. You claim that the positive things you or others do are trivial. “That’s what wives are supposed to do—so it doesn’t count when she’s nice to me,” or “Those successes were easy, so they don’t matter.”

6. Negative filtering. You focus almost exclusively on the negatives and seldom notice the positives. “Look at all of the people who don’t like me.”

7. Overgeneralizing. You perceive a global pattern of negatives on the basis of a single incident. “This generally happens to me. I seem to fail at a lot of things.”

8. Dichotomous thinking. You view events or people in all-or-nothing terms. “I get rejected by everyone,” or “It was a complete waste of time.”

9. Blaming. You focus on the other person as the source of your negative feelings, and you refuse to take responsibility for changing yourself. “She’s to blame for the way I feel now,” or “My parents caused all my problems.”

10. What if? You keep asking a series of questions about “what if” something happens, and you fail to be satisfied with any of the answers. “Yeah, but what if I get anxious?,” or “What if I can’t catch my breath?”

11. Emotional reasoning. You let your feelings guide your interpretation of reality. “I feel depressed; therefore, my marriage is not working out.”

12. Inability to disconfirm. You reject any evidence or arguments that might contradict your negative thoughts. For example, when you have the thought I’m unlovable, you reject as irrelevant any evidence that people like you. Consequently, your thought cannot be refuted. “That’s not the real issue. There are deeper problems. There are other factors.”

I took the VIA Personality Survey and this is what it says about me. Think it’s accurate? Let me know.

Your Top Strength Is Creativity: Thinking Of New Ways To Do Things Is A Crucial Part Of Who You Are.



Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things; includes artistic achievement but is not limited to it.



Speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way and acting in a sincere way; being without pretense; taking responsibility for one’s feelings and actions.



Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; speaking up for what’s right even if there’s opposition; acting on convictions even if unpopular; includes physical bravery but is not limited to it.



Being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks.



Liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side; making (not necessarily telling) jokes.



Doing favors and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them.



Being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that make sense to oneself/others.



Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not letting feelings bias decisions about others; giving everyone a fair chance.



Finishing what one starts; persevering in a course of action in spite of obstacles; “getting it out the door”; taking pleasure in completing tasks.


Social Intelligence

Being aware of the motives/feelings of others and oneself; knowing what to do to fit into different social situations; knowing what makes other people tick.



Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to conclusions; being able to change one’s mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly.



Approaching life with excitement and energy; not doing things halfway or halfheartedly; living life as an adventure; feeling alive and activated.


Appreciation Of Beauty & Excellence

Noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in various domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.



Working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group; doing one’s share.



Taking an interest in ongoing experience for its own sake; finding subjects and topics fascinating; exploring and discovering.



Letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves; not regarding oneself as more special than one is.



Encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at the same time maintain good relations within the group; organizing group activities and seeing that they happen.



Forgiving those who have done wrong; accepting others’ shortcomings; giving people a second chance; not being vengeful.



Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it; believing that a good future is something that can be brought about.


Love Of Learning

Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one’s own or formally; related to the strength of curiosity but goes beyond it to describe the tendency to add systematically to what one knows.



Regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined; controlling one’s appetites and emotions.



Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing & caring are reciprocated; being close to people.



Being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted.



Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe; knowing where one fits within the larger scheme; having beliefs about the meaning of life that shape conduct and provide comfort.

Downtown #Barrie Deputation at City Council

I delivered a deputation at #Barrie City Council this week about the Dunlop St. EA. Here are the comments in case you’re interested 🙂

Good evening your Worship, members of council and members of our community in the audience and watching from home. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak before you tonight.

As I am sure you’re all aware, opportunities to completely ‘make-over’ a community’s main street are infrequent, something that might happen once in a generation. As a result, it’s incredibly important to ensure a vision for the future is used, rather than a lens reflective on the present day. With this in mind, I am concerned that the vision as presented by Staff through the ongoing Dunlop St EA is rooted in the past, and not focused on our future. I am here tonight to request that Council send this item back to Staff to rethink and research some alternatives that do not include on-street parking.

I can’t understand why on-street parking is included in every single one of the alternatives reviewed/suggested. Additionally, the recommended alternative is really little more than the ‘do nothing’ approach and this is a disservice to all of us in Barrie, perhaps especially those who live outside of the downtown and who subsidize it through our property taxes. There is already a surplus of parking in the downtown, one needs to only review the parking garage budget to recognize this. There also seems to be a disconnect between the potential for business success and having on-street parking. Parking is not what makes a business successful, just as vehicle throughput does not define a successful downtown core. It’s a fact that retailers consistently overestimate the share of their customers who arrive by car. A 2011 study in Vancouver, on Hornby and Dunsmuir street indicated that shop owners overestimate the share of drivers by 100%. Further to this overestimation of cars, they are underestimating the share of cyclists by 50%. In another more local study done by TCAT in 2009 indicates 70% of shop owners over estimated the car share mode, while the stats showed 90% of customers arrived by walking, cycling or public transit.

The City’s Multi-Modal Active Transportation Master Plan [MMATMP], which was approved by Council, recommended providing an increased emphasis on non-auto modes including a 100% increase over current levels of AT mode share and 170% increase in transit mode share. This is an average rate across the City, in reality the target mode share will need to be higher in the downtown core to meet the targets across the entire City. The road network and capital budgeting for the City is based on meeting this target, if the City does not provide the necessary infrastructure to achieve this mode split target, the road network across the City will be proportionately strained and likely operating over capacity. In short, engineering design is currently underway to build a road network which will accommodate the traffic for a City that is placing a priority on AT, if we do not provide the necessary AT infrastructure, we are essentially building roads that will not meet the demand and providing no viable alternative. Sharrows which have been suggested through Alternative Five are quite literally the absolute minimum type of cycling infrastructure which could be implemented, and it’s definitely not enough to realize an increased mode share.

As we plan our main street’s redesign, I urge council to direct staff to embark on research like what I’ve noted. Before we implement an alternative that is essentially catering to the car, can we get some data to ensure that this is the best choice for the future of our city and downtown?

Looking at the alternatives suggested, and the rankings based on comment sheets and community member feedback it’s interesting to note that the recommended alternative (number 5) was only preferred by 23% of respondents. A full 46% of respondents preferred alternatives 2 or 3, both of which support a much more drastic change the streetscape along Dunlop through the downtown. 23% would like to see Dunlop closed to vehicle traffic entirely and permanently. Another 23% would like to see Dunlop St closed to vehicles every summer, yet staff are recommending that we go with a different alternative.
I am not confident that our population density can support a fully closed Dunlop St in the summer, or all year however I think it’s incredibly important to consider that a majority of respondents want something different than what we have today. If for example alternative 4 were considered, without allowing for any on-street parking along Dunlop St, it could provide a complete street environment, a protected bike boulevard, expanded sidewalks, permanent patios and improved accessibility for those members of our community who are aging.
A couple of evidenciary notes about the Economic Benefits of Investment in Cycling Infrastructure
• New York City found that protected bike lanes had a significant positive impact on local business strength. After the construction of a protected bike lane on 9th Avenue, local businesses saw a 49 percent increase in retail sales. In comparison, local businesses throughout Manhattan only saw a 3 percent increase in retail sales.
• Portland State University researchers found that customers who arrive by bike spend 24% more per month than those who arrive by car.
• Traveling by bike encourages more frequent stops than a car. In a study of Toronto merchants, patrons arriving by foot and bicycle visit the most often and spend the most money per month.

Your worship, members of council. The opportunity to re-envision our main street and downtown in such a full and complete manner has never presented itself in my lifetime before, and I’m not confident we’ll get this opportunity again. We as a City have heavily invested into our downtown with the belief and understanding that it is a critical area for our community, its financial health and over-all well-being, I implore you to ensure that we develop a vision that is forward thinking and representative of the downtown we wish to have, not the downtown we already do. In 20 years, do we want our Downtown to be described as cute, quaint and adorable (much like Stayner’s is today), or do we want to embrace the fact we are Central Ontario’s metropolitan hub and design a downtown to match?

Thanks very much for your time this evening. Again, I am requesting for Council to send this back to Staff for further investigation and visioning. If there are any questions I’m more than happy to take them now.