Do you ever find yourself minimizing the good things that happen in life? If so, you’re not alone. A core pillar of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is identifying cognitive distortions, which are negatively biased stories our mind tells us.
“Disqualifying the Positive” is a common cognitive distortion that acknowledges positive experiences but rejects them instead of embracing them.
For example, when I was working in a corporate career, I received a positive annual review from my boss. Having recently graduated college, I was dealing with some major imposter syndrome and was confident that I was not actually living up to the expectations.
I disqualified the positive that I was a competent employee and attributed the positive review to political correctness, or to my boss simply not wanting to talk about their employee’s performance problems.
While this is quite an acute example from the early days of my career - it’s easy for this thinking pattern to manifest itself in a more subtle fashion. For instance, I’ve recently taken up writing personal essays and sharing them with friends and family. Several friends had praised me for taking up this effort and shared how a particular essay had impacted them. I immediately resorted to this distortion, thinking, “They are my friends - of course, they will say nice things!”
However, I caught myself in this thinking and actually challenged the thought and, following the same process that our thought analyzer uses, replaced the thought with, “wow, I’m so thankful that I have been given an opportunity to write and that it has actually had an impact on people I care about.”
I encourage you to take a few minutes and reflect on how disqualifying the positive shows up in your life. When you notice them come up, you can challenge their validity and replace them with a more helpful thought.
It’s a simple process - but by consciously analyzing our thoughts, we take back control instead of letting these thoughts control us.
If you want to practice reframing your thoughts, give our online tool a try here!