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The Ways We Add To Our Pain

Cognitive Distortions

We all do it. We struggle to accept life on life’s terms. We reject the reality of a situation and in doing so we add to our pain. Instead of something hard happening, we throw salt on the wound, thinking, “This shouldn’t have happened!”

These incorrect ideas about how the world runs. How people should act and how things should go, are sometimes described as “thinking traps” or “thought errors”. These can become so ingrained in our psyche and so fluent in our thought patterns that we often do not realize we are thinking and choosing them. We can also become very attached to them because in some way, the belief is serving us in our current situation, so it makes it difficult for us to release them on their own and often benefit from someone else’s help in doing so.

What a coach can do is kindly identify the thought error, bring the client’s attention to it, show them the added pain it is causing the client, and challenge the validity of that thought in order to give the client their freedom to continue to choose the thought or not.

I wanted to give you some examples of common cognitive distortions, incorrect beliefs about our perception of reality and relational thinking that add to our personal pain. I provide a common thought we might say when living out of these beliefs to hopefully help you catch yourself in a moment where you may be in one! If you hear yourself saying one of these in your head or out loud, catch it! Then write it down and reach out to me. We can work through it on a discovery call 😉 Okay, here we go.

Cognitive Distortions

Polarized Thinking: Also known as “black and white thinking.” Thinking and speaking in extremes of always and never. Additionally it’s seeing yourself as worthless or a failure if you fall short of perfection.

Mental Filtering: Viewing or interpreting all circumstances through a certain lens

Negative Mental Filtering: half glass empty mentality.

“I only got one closet cleaned out today.”

Discounting The Positive: minimizes the positive, comes up with reasons to discredit or invalidate them.

“I wanted to get two closets cleaned, this day was a total failure.”

Overgeneralization: focuses on a single event that occurred and makes a conclusion based on this single piece of negative evidence that all similar events will go the same way.

“You never handle criticism well!”

Jumping to Conclusions: Making assumptions not based on actual evidence

Mind Reading: assuming you know what another is thinking.

“I know you think I shouldn’t have bout that item.”

Fortune Telling: assuming you know how something will go, usually, a negative result.

“I’m just going to mess up.”

Catastrophizing: Jumping to the worst case scenario in your head and starting to respond as if that were already true.

“John is late for work, what if he got in a horrible car accident!?”

Personalization: Taking things personally. Causes a direct and personal reaction to everything others do or say even if it was unrelated to them.

  • Thinking someone is talking about you when they are giving a vague complaint.

  • Blaming yourself for situations beyond your control.

  • Assuming you have been intentionally excluded or targeted.

Can often result in someone defending themself when someone wasn’t blaming, accusing or provoking them in the first place.

“She probably planned it on a day I’m not there because she didn’t want me to come.”

Blaming: Places blame/deflect responsibility onto an external source for their pain. Play the victim when it is the individual’s responsibility to respond, manage and attend to their own pain.

“If he hadn't left the house late, I wouldn’t have had to speed to the appointment. ”

Labeling: Extreme form of overgeneralization in which you cast judgment on yourself or others and assign a label that is more permanent than the single incident which occurred.

“He’s such a narcissist.”

Always Being Right: An unwillingness to compromise or admit fault.

“This is how I’ve always done it.”

Should Statements: Ideas of how people should behave that create pressure and high expectations that are not morally right or wrong.

“He should always think of my needs before he makes any decisions that effect us both.”

Emotional Reasoning: Because something feels a certain way, that must be true.

“Nobody is ever nice to me.” (after one negative experience where someone is unkind.)

Control Fallacies

Internal Control Fallacy

“It’s my fault she decided to go out in that storm. I shouldn’t have let her leave.”

External Control Fallacy

“I’ll never forgive my mother until she apologizes for what she did.”

Fallacy of Change: Someone else needs to change in order for me to be happy.

“I”ll never be comfortable around my sister until she stops criticizing me so much.”

Fallacy of Fairness: The belief that all things in life should be measured and applied based on fairness and equality.

“If you get a night off, then I should get a night off too.”

Heaven’s Reward Fallacy: The belief that we should be rewarded fairly for our hard work

“But I worked so hard. How could I not get that raise?”

  • Often results in: bitterness, rejection of those not “treating you fairly”

What coaching can do for you is help you process through the reality of what is happening either by addressing the hard emotions and walking you through them, or by addressing the associations you make, thoughts you have about those associations and working through them in order to lessen the degree of the emotional pain you are feeling and perhaps allow you to release it entirely by coming to a more true and useful thought that is grounded in reality.


I am a Professionally trained Catholic Mindset Coach through Metanoia Catholic. I help Christian women who feel unhappy and dissatisfied with life find the fulfillment and satisfaction they desire by reworking limiting belief patterns with the tools of mindset coaching so that they can see the Truth of the Goodness and Beauty of who they are and how they were made.

If you feel you could benefit from coaching do not hesitate to reach out, I'd love to hear from you. And if anything has spoken to your heart or you have any questions in general about Catholic Mindset Coaching, sign up for a FREE Discovery Call on the Services page!

If you wish to get to know me better, check out my personal blog, Grateful Blessed Mess, at for an inside view of my interior life. God bless!

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