Today we’re on to part 8 of our series on the most common “cognitive distortions,” or thinking errors. This is the second-to-last installment before we wrap up this series.
Cognitive distortion #8 is…
What it is:
At its core, the “should statements” cognitive distortion revolves around rigid expectations and self-imposed standards we place upon ourselves. These thoughts arise when we believe that things should be a certain way, either in our own lives or in the behavior of others.
It’s like carrying around an invisible measuring stick, constantly comparing reality to an idealized version in our minds.
When it happens:
The shoulds tend to kick in when there’s a gap between expectation and reality, and we’ve labeled the reality as a disappointment.
A perceived failure or setback may trigger thoughts like, “I should have succeeded” or “I should have known better.” Similarly, when we witness others behaving in a way that conflicts with our expectations, we might find ourselves thinking, “They should have acted differently.”
What to do if you catch yourself “should”ing