According to the American Psychological Association (APA), cognitive distortion can be defined as faulty or inaccurate thinking, perception or belief. (APA, © 2022) Often at times, cognitive distortions fuel our anxiety and increase our misery.
There are a number of cognitive distortions identified in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the most common include:
- All-or-Nothing Thinking/ Polarized Thinking
- Mental Filter
- Catastrophizing/ Magnification or Minimization
- Mind Reading/ Jumping to Conclusions
- Predicting the future
- Emotional Reasoning
- “Should” Statements
10. Personalization and Blame
This particular worksheet will focus on: MIND READING.
What Are The Theories Behind This Worksheet?
Mind reading is one of the cognitive distortions characterized by the assumption of what someone else thinks of you or the automatic negative thought that other people look down on you without any evidence.
Mind reading tends to manipulate the mind and is known to contribute to depression and anxiety, especially social anxiety.
People who struggle with mind reading often at times assume that people will focus on their flaws even though that may not be the case at all.
Example: I called my friend three times and did not receive a response, she is definitely avoiding me, she must think I am annoying.
Mind reading is also called ‘thinking error’ or ‘jumping to conclusions.’
How Will This Worksheet Help You?
This worksheet is targeted to help individuals learn to recognise and challenge this cognitive distortion of mind reading.
This can be done by reducing self-consciousness, shyness, and the negative feelings attributed to depression and anxiety.
This worksheet will help you test the reality of your thoughts, channel your negative thoughts to positive ones and lastly, get rid of self-doubt and judgement.
How Should You Use This Worksheet?
Your thoughts, emotions and actions play a big role in shaping how you perceive yourself, others and the world around you.
There are different ways of managing mind reading. To begin with, learn to separate your thoughts from actual events, challenge your negative thinking patterns and aim for a balance in your thoughts.
You should use this worksheet as a guide to help you improve your state of mind and gain mental clarity.
This worksheet is a great self-evaluation kit.
Cognitive Distortions: Mind Reading WorksheetSECTION B.
List down ways in which you can separate your thoughts from actual events.
Example: Practicing breathing techniques or surrounding yourself with nature.
Identify different ways in which you can challenge your negative thoughts.
Example: Focusing on gratitude
I have been stuck in traffic for two hours, I know I am late for work but I am grateful I am here now.
Identify ways in which you can get rid of self-doubt and judgement.
Example: Try not to compare yourself to others
Everyone made it to work on time but myself, let me put extra focus on my tasks today and see if I can finish all that is required of me by end-of-the-day.
Overcoming Mind Reading:
- Catch yourself in the act.
When you feel judged or embarrassed, learn to pay attention to what you’re thinking. This will help you increase the awareness of your racing thoughts.
Instead of: Everyone is going to judge me for not being able to hand in my work on time.
Replace with: I am feeling a little anxious with this deadline but I will focus and finish all the work that is needed before the deadline.
- Test the Reality of Your Thoughts
Once you are able to recognize when you’re mind reading, begin to question your thoughts.
Example: One failed biology exam does not mean you’re a failure.
- Look For Other Possibilities
Do not be ready to jump to conclusions all the time. Learn to think realistically.
Example: My friend did not pick up her phone when I called, she could be taking a nap, I know she will call me back as soon as she sees it.
- Suspend Judgement.
Suspending judgement means withholding back without forming an opinion on others or different situations.
Learn to be true to yourself, state intentions and hear what people have to say before making your own conclusions.
Instead of: Ted passed me without saying hello, that is very rude of him.
Replace with: The next time I see Ted I will ask if he is okay, it’s unlike him to pass without saying hello.
- Practising stress-relieving techniques
Write down what you feel every time you practise any stress-relieving techniques. E.g., journaling, mindfulness, yoga et al.
American Psychological Association. (© 2022). Cognitive Distortion. Available at:
https://dictionary.apa.org/cognitive-distortion. [Accessed October 17, 2022].
You can download this worksheet here.