Cognitive distortions: overcoming disqualifying the positive for moms and dads

Thank you for joining Stay-in-Bed Mom Blog (SIBMB) for an ongoing positive self-talk series. Self-love starts with positive self-talk. We’ll continue to discuss cognitive distortions, or unhelpful thinking styles, through the lens of parenthood. Last time we discussed mental filter. A little cognitive distortion here, a little exaggeration there isn’t going to affect your mental state in the short term. However, if your negative thinking becomes chronic, then your mental health will undoubtedly suffer.

What’s disqualifying the positive? This may be the most common of the cognitive fallacies. You ignore the positive, the flip of mental filter. Good things don’t count because it’s just an easy task. Bad things are internalized as character flaws. Success is attributed to an alignment of the stars and failures are traceable to inherent character flaws. Negative beliefs are maintained despite contrarian evidence.

What’s an example of disqualifying the positive? My daughter passed the test, probably because it was easy.

What does disqualifying the positive look like in your mom or dad life? You reject positive statements or happenings in your life, believing that they “don’t count”.

How can disqualifying the positive be harmful? Disqualifying the positive steals the joy from your accomplishments and achievements. Whenever you disqualify the positive, you’re wrongly reinforcing negative beliefs about yourself and your world. People in this situation may show signs of depression.

Am I disqualifying the positive in my daily life? You may be if… you catch yourself using words or phrases like…

  • “I will never be as good as person X.”
  • “Anyone could have done as well.”
  • They are just congratulating me to be nice.”

What can I do to overcome disqualifying the positive?

If you find it difficult to accept praise or compliments, you can start by saying a simple, sincere “Thank you” or “I appreciate that.” Then, take a little time later to imagine what your life would be like if you believed the words were true.

Do…use the 3 Cs!

  1. Categorize the negative, self defeating thought. Identify the unwanted thought or thinking pattern (e.g. all-or-nothing thinking, overgeneralization, mental filter, disqualifying the positive, etc.). Write it in a thought journal.
  2. Challenge the thought. Look at what you wrote down. Review your thought journal and look for signs of disqualifying the positive. Reframe the undesired thought. Ask yourself how someone else would view your thought. Is this really true?
  3. Change the thought. Replace your thought with a positive or an optimistically realistic one. Believe you can create a different outcome in the future. A single negative event doesn’t hold true forever.

Remember the 3 Cs of cognitive restructuring, and you will notice a shift in the way you see the world. Through practice, you will think in a healthier and more positive way and see things more clearly. Everyone needs a daily dose of vitamin C and the 3 Cs – Categorize –> Challenge –> Change. Both will do a body and mind good!


I’m not good enough. Scratch that thought! I AM mom (or dad) enough.

So keep talking back to your brain.

What strategies have worked for you for overcoming disqualifying the positive?

7 thoughts on “Cognitive distortions: overcoming disqualifying the positive for moms and dads

Add yours

  1. Thank you so much for this post – the timing is spot-on! My 15-year-old corrects me when I say something negative that’s untrue or no logical. Of course I shouldn’t rely on her or expect that! But her attitude has influenced me a lot, and so when I think negatively, I pause and think of her, too. And then I re-evaluate my thought process to see if I’m being truthful/rational/doing the all-ornothing gig….. or not. She has helped me more than she knows!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I catch myself doing all-or-nothing thinking and disqualifying positive. It’s so tough to change your thoughts when you’ve been thinking a certain way for a long time. Retraining the brain has been a long painstaking process for me. Here’s hoping my children have better brain health than I do! I’m trying to model healthy thought patterns for my little ones. 💚

      Liked by 1 person

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