I've just read an excellent article from the PsychCentral blog on 15 Common Cognitive Distortions. A cognitive distortion is anything our mind convinces us of that isn't really true. In general we use them to beat ourselves up and keep ourselves feeling bad.
Reading through the list and thinking about them I can easily see how I apply 10 of them on an almost daily basis right now. For me the list is:
- polarized thinking
- jumping to conclusions
- fallacy of fairness
- fallacy of change
- always being right
Wait, that's 11. Well there you go. I suspect the other 4 are there and I just don't see myself using them quite so clearly (although this could be an example of overgeneralization :)).
What's more difficult, and the article doesn't really delve into this, is how to avoid these distortions short of full-blown CBT. In the first case I think being aware of, and reflecting upon, how you may be distorting your view of things is probably a good start. It might make a good beginning of a daily mindfulness practice.