Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cognitive Distortion #6: Magnification and Minimization

From Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns

Another thinking trap you might fall into is called "magnification" and "minimization," but I like to think of it as the "binocular trick" because you are either blowing things up out of proportion or shrinking them. Magnification commonly occurs when you look at you own errors, fears, or imperfections and exaggerate their importance: "My Goodness--I made a mistake. How terrible! How awful! The word will spread like wildfire! My reputation is ruined!" You're looking at your faults through the end of the binoculars that makes them appear gigantic and grotesque. This has also been called "catastrophizing" because you turn commonplace negative events into nightmarish monsters.

When you think about your strengths, you may do the opposite--look through the wrong end of the binoculars so that things look small and unimportant. If you magnify your imperfections and minimize your good points, you're guaranteed to feel inferior. But the problem isn't you--it's the crazy lenses you're wearing!

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This is so easy to do when I get stuck in the rut of comparing myself to other people. I know all the worst things about me, but I only see the public faces of my neighbors and most friends. I can't win!

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