Cognitive Distortions: The Shoulds


Cognitive Distortions: The Shoulds

The cognitive distortion is centered on THE SHOULDS!

Shoulds, ought toos, and musts are common ways our thoughts have power over us. We can be insecure of our own behavior and subtly judge our own choices: “I can’t believe I said that. I SHOULD have just smiled and nodded.”

This scrutiny can create a self-imposed, guilt, shame, and frustration. Other times we judgmentally evaluate the choices that others make: “Why is she wearing those clothes?! He SHOULD learn to drive.”

We criticize people, situations, or the world around us and this can create anger, irritation, and discontentment in ourselves and with others.

When we analyze ourselves or others and create expectations, we make conclusions in our minds about how things SHOULD have been or how they SHOULD be. And when the outcome is something different than the expectations our thoughts created, we cause stress in our minds, emotions, and even our bodies.

Depression lives in the past and anxiety lives in the future. If you are thinking of something you SHOULD have done in the past or focused on something you must do in the future, then you aren’t fully living in the present moment.

Try to avoid “shoulding” on yourself! Focus on the present moment and live mindfully.

Watch other videos in this Psych in 60 series to learn more about cognitive distortions and leave your questions in the comments below!

Click here for more content by Myque Harris, LPC!


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