Disqualifying the Positive: What Does It Mean? | Assertiveness Basics

  • Disqualifying The Positive is a Cognitive Distortion, an automatic irrational thought.
  • It means to reject the personal agency regarding positive outcomes and contexts and only consider them a matter of chance or “luck.”
  • The positive contexts are given an external cause such as “luck”, “faith”, “destiny”, hazard.
  • This cognitive distortion prioritizes explanations of randomness rather than acknowledge the intentional efforts and factors.
  • The result of this cognitive distortion is that the positive things in your life are included in a “they don’t count” category, and this allows your mind to only focus on the negative, even when the evidence would contradict that view.

Examples of Disqualifying The Positive

“I got an A on the test because it was an easy exam“.

This view ignores the effort and skills of the person. The exam seemed easy because they were well prepared.

“The employer only wanted to be nice to me. That is why he gave me a promotion.”

Once again, this way of thinking about why one got a promotion ignores the previous personal accomplishments that lead to this bigger achievement.

How To Manage the “Disqualifying The Positive” Cognitive Distortion

When something good happens in your life, try to identify all the steps you took before and lead you in the desired direction. Do the same when analyzing the success of other people.