Psychology tutorial 1: Identifying and correcting cognitive distortions Introduction
Cognition is a word used to describe our thinking, for example cognitions consist of thoughts, ideas, expectations, beliefs and attitudes (Wright & McCray 2012). Cognitive distortions are habitual ways of interpreting information, situations and people that alter reality, so that an unnecessary negative view of one’s self, circumstances or future is generated (Wilkes, 1994).The main reason to resolve cognitive distortions, is that it results in unnecessary emotional discomfort and negative feelings are exerted such as feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem, guilt, rejection and helplessness (Burns, 1989). This essay will be discussing a particular event which occurred and the feelings and thoughts related to the event. In addition to that, the thoughts will be examined for accuracy; rationality and functionality. The Situation
One particular situation that comes to mind, was when I was in my law lecture, and the lecturer asked me a question, my heart was racing and all I could do was keep quiet because I did not want to sound stupid, or be perceived to be dumb if my answer was incorrect as I did not want to be judged by my classmates. The whole time the lecturer was looking at me, in anticipation of the answer, I went blank, even though I was paying attention during the lecture. I felt embarrassed as I did not know what everyone would think of me, so at that moment in time, all I could do was smile at the lecturer, and the lecturer looked at me and moved on. Feelings
The feelings I felt during that moment in time when the lecturer asked me the question were fear, embarrassment and anxiety. I was fearful of what people may think of me, if my answer was incorrect. I was embarrassed, as I was asked the question and all I could do was not respond due to the fear I felt of others judging me. I was anxious as I did not know what to do and the fear of being perceived as stupid or dumb consumed me. In my view the most predominant feeling I felt during that moment in time was of anxiety, as I was fearful of the situation I was in and my mind went completely blank.
1. “I don’t know what to say, everyone might think I’m stupid.”---- Anxiety 2. “What if my answer’s incorrect and the lecturer tells me to stand up and go outside.”----- Fear 3. “I cannot even answer the question, why am I so dumb.” ----Embarrassment Examine the thoughts in terms of accuracy, rationality and functionality 1. “I don’t know what to say, everyone might think I’m stupid.” ---- Anxiety Accuracy
In terms of accuracy, will people really think I’m stupid? I have not given anyone a reason to think I’m stupid so they should not think that. Anyone else could have been in the same situation, and therefore they may understand why I did not respond or how I reacted. Maybe people may think I’m shy or reserved, instead of stupid or dumb. Rationality
In terms of rationality, is it correct to overgeneralize, by saying “everyone might think I’m stupid?” How can I perceive other’s reaction without truly knowing what their reaction is? Functionality
Lastly, in terms of functionality, this is an automatic negative thought, and does not help me, as it may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, as by thinking about “what not to say”, I may become more anxious, and in turn would likely not know what to say. Rational Response
“I have been paying attention to the lecturer, and do understand what he is talking about and therefore I am able to answer the question without sounding stupid or dumb, so just breath, relax and take it easy, you can do this.” 2. What if my answer’s incorrect and the lecturer tells me to stand up and go outside.”----- Fear
In terms of accuracy, how can I be sure that my answer is incorrect without answering the question, and being evaluated on its correctness? Has the lecturer ever told someone to stand up and go...
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