Leone Centre Glossary

Disqualifying the Positive

Disqualifying the Positive

Disqualifying the positive is a cognitive distortion which is often addressed in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). It involves dismissing or undervaluing positive experiences, thoughts, or achievements, leading to an overly negative self-view.

Common Challenges

  1. Persistent negative thinking
  2. Low self-esteem
  3. Difficulty acknowledging achievements
  4. Negative impact on mental health and well-being

Explaining Disqualifying the Positive

Disqualifying the positive is a mental habit where individuals undermine or ignore their positive attributes and accomplishments. This distortion can sustain a cycle of negative thinking, making it harder to develop a balanced and realistic self-perception.

Key Features and Benefits of Addressing This

  1. Recognition: Identifying this distortion can help individuals understand how their thought patterns affect their mood and behaviour.
  2. Balanced Thinking: Learning to acknowledge positive aspects can contribute to a more balanced and healthier mindset.
  3. Therapeutic Focus: Addressing this distortion is a key part of CBT, aiding in the overall therapeutic process.

What is Disqualifying the Positive?

Disqualifying the positive is a cognitive distortion where an individual disregards positive experiences or feedback, often believing they are undeserved or insignificant.

Benefits of Addressing This Distortion

Recognising and challenging this pattern can lead to improved self-esteem and a more accurate self-assessment, leading to better mental well-being.

Therapeutic Approaches

CBT techniques often include exercises to help individuals identify and reframe these unhelpful thought patterns, encouraging a more balanced view of oneself.


Why do people disqualify the positive?
This behaviour often stems from deeply ingrained negative beliefs about oneself or a fear of seeming arrogant or complacent.
How can CBT help disqualify the positive?
CBT helps by providing tools to recognise and challenge these thought patterns, fostering a more balanced and realistic self-view.
Can disqualifying the positive affect daily life?
Yes, it can lead to chronic dissatisfaction and low self-esteem and hinder personal and professional growth.


  1. Psychology Today: Cognitive Distortions
  2. Verywell Mind: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Overview
  3. Psych Central: Common Cognitive Distortions
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This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision