Cognitive distortion is thinking that convinces you of things that aren't true and reinforces negative thoughts or emotions. Understanding distorted thinking can help you to overcome these thoughts and avoid falling into mental traps that can affect your behavior.


Urges and Distorted Thinking

When you're in a state of distress, your mind will convince you that fulfilling your urge is the only sensible, logical, and effective solution. The stress will feel unbearable until you fulfill the urge. 

Distorted thinking exaggerates the intensity of your urge. For instance, a cognitive distortion known as polarized thinking may lead you to believe that you are either perfect, so it doesn't matter if you give in to the urge or a complete failure, so what's the point of not giving in to it. The cognitive distortion of polarized thinking leads you to think in "black and white," "this or that," or "all or nothing" terms.


Avoiding Distorted Thinking

The best way to fix distorted thinking is by first understanding the many different types of it that you may experience, such as overgeneralization, selective abstraction, or polarized thinking. This knowledge can help you be aware of what sort of distorted thoughts you are most likely to experience. 

Distorted thinking, if left unchecked, can convince you to give in to urges. It's during these moments that it's important to catch yourself and your distorted thoughts before they affect your behavior.