Personalization Cognitive Distortion

Personalization Cognitive Distortion: It is not all about you

Personalization Cognitive Distortion: It is not all about you


Personalization Cognitive Distortion: It is not all about you is a quick roadmap to what is and is not about you. Personalization is one of many cognitive distortions that can reak havoc on your relationships. It reaks the most havoc on your relationship with yourself. If you ever fixate on what people think about you or relate the behavior of others to you, it is possible that you are suffering from personalization. Let’s undress this issue.

What is a Cognitive Distortion?

A cognitive distortion is a thought pattern that alter your reality, generally in a negative way. They are habitual and often engrained ways of viewing situations. Most of us from time to time suffer from cognitive distortions, but if they are pervasive patterns they can cause anxiety, depression, and reduce our ability to function. Recognizing cognitive distortions is part of cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is part of what I practice at 

What causes Cognitive Distortions?

It is possible that these ways and patterns of thinking at one point in our human evolution were helpful. In all situations, our brains are designed to default to the most likely scenario, and if we have an experience that is similar, we automatically reenact or experience the same feelings as before. This is a survival method, but if we are not in danger or have had a trauma related to types of experiences triggered, the patterns can form a distortion, that is not aligned with reality.

What are some types of Cognitive Distortions?

Some examples of cognitive distortions include black and white thinking, where things are either all good or a complete disaster, jumping to conclusions, where you assume one situation is just like another, without careful consideration, catastrophizing, I see this a ton, where someone always assumes the absolute worst, without evidence, psychic, where you think you know what another is thinking, and lastly, personalization, where you think everything is about you.

Cognitive Personalization is defined as when you take everything personally. It can be debilitating. You blame yourself for situations beyond your control, you take responsibility for other people’s feelings, and can incorrectly assume you are being victimized. It leads to increased anxiety and depression.

What are the symptoms of Cognitive Personalization?

This is one of the most common cognitive distortions. If you think things are being done intentionally to you, that you are being left out, examples people give are directed at you, and perception of random comments to be about you, you may be suffering from a cognitive distortion of personalization.

What causes Personalization?

Trauma can cause personalization in terms of neglect or abandonment. In some instances, if a person is not heard or validated during developmental periods, they may become hyper-aware of the actions of others as evidence reactions to themself. It also has derivatives in not holding yourself accountable for certain feelings, that might be uncomfortable. An example is if a person cancels a plan and rather than be disappointed, you find a reason for your doing something wrong, or they are mad at you. Maybe you then come up with a whole scenario of apologizing, when it is not necessary.

How do you treat Personalization Cognitive Distortion?

It is a thought pattern and over time it can be changed. First, catch the thought, in the moment. Is this my own emotion or do I know the thoughts, emotions, or motivations of someone else? Then ask, if you are uncertain. It will reinforce the reality of the situation. Also, consider reframing the situation. What are the facts in the scenario. Weigh the likelihood of something truly having to do with you and take responsibility when it might.

There is always cognitive behavioral therapy if you find this overwhelming. Head over to or contact us here. We are taking new patients and available in office or via Zoom.


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