What are “negative cognitions”

Several folk have noticed this phrase appearing a lot in my blog. I have been asked what it means in English.

This is a good question as it is a central idea within Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement De-sensitisation and Re-processing (EMDR), indeed, a lot of other therapies. Negative cognitions are phrases we have in our head that usually bad-mouth ourselves and/or other people. In therapy it is best to concentrate on ourselves. Therefore, negative cognitions generally begin with “I”.

Most of these beliefs about ourselves are concerned with basic things – control, responsibility, vulnerability, and getting it [life] wrong.

There are many of them, as you might imagine; indeed, as many as we can all generate together. Some examples include:

 

I am worthless  … inadequate …. shameful ….. not loveable …… not good enough,

I deserve to die. …..  to be miserable ….

I don’t belong …..

Typical negative thoughts around RESPONSIBILITY include:

I should have known better.

and around VULNERABILITY include:

I cannot trust myself  … my judgement ….. trust anyone

and around CONTROL/CHOICE

I am not in control  ….I am powerless …. I am weak …… I am a failure.

 

Compare that with some positive cognitions (or affirmations, as they can be known).

I deserve love.

I am a loving person.

I am worthy.; I am worthwhile.

I deserve good things.

I can trust myself ….. I am safe now …… I can safely show my emotions ….. I am now in control …..I can get what I want.

Any of these phrases sound interesting? Try saying one inside your head. What does it feel like?

Do not be surprised if you feel uncomfortable; that can be expected. Any thoughts on why that might be so? If it is so, what experiment comes to mind to help you on your way?

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