Cognative Behavior Questions/Challenge your Negative thinking

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Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 2446
   Posted 9/29/2008 9:09 AM (GMT -6)   
This is a little long, but worthy of a thread.
For those suffering, please print this out and do this exercise everytime you are facing a bad day
(wonder if the admins can make this a sticky)
Hope this helps
20 Qs to Help Challenge Negative Thinking


1. Am I confusing a thought with a fact? The fact you believe something to be true does not necessarily mean it is. Would your thoughts be accepted as correct by other people? Would it stand up in court or be dismissed as circumstantial? What objective evidence do you have to back it up and to contradict it?

2. Am I jumping to conclusions? This is the result of basing what you think on poor evidence. For instance, depressed people often believe that others are thinking critically about them. But none of us are mind readers. How do you know what someone else is thinking? You may be right but don't jump to conclusions - stick to what you know and if you don't know, see if you can find out.


3. Am I assuming my view of things is the only one possible? How would you have looked at this situation before you got depressed? How would another person look at it? How would you look at it if someone else described it to you?

4. What do I want? What are your goals? Do you want to be happy and get the most out of life? Is the way you are thinking now helping you to achieve this? Or is it standing in the way of what you want?

5. What are the advantages and disadvantages of thinking this way? Many distorted thought patterns do have some pay off - this is what keeps them going. But do the disadvantages outweigh the advantages? If so, you can think out a new way of looking at things, which will give you the advantages but avoid the disadvantages of the old way.

6. Am I asking questions which have no answers? Questions like 'How can I undo the past?' 'Why aren't I different?', 'What is the meaning of life?', 'Why does this always happen to me?', 'Why is life so unfair?', 'When will I be better again?'. Brooding over questions like these is a guaranteed way to depress yourself. If you can turn them into answerable questions, so much the better. If not, don't waste time on them.


7. Am I thinking in all-or-nothing terms? Nearly everything is relative. People, for instance, are not usually all good or bad. They are a mixture of the two. Are you applying this kind of black and white?

8. Am I using ultimatum words in my thinking? Watch out for words like always/never/everyone/none/everything/nothing. the chances are the situation is less clear-cut than that. Mostly a case of sometimes, some people and some things.

9. Am I condemning myself as a total person on the basis of a single event? Depressed people often take difficulties to mean that they have no value at all as a person. Are you making this kind of blanket judgement?

10. Am I concentrating on weakness and forgetting my strengths? When people become depressed, they often overlook problems they handled successfully in the past, and resources which would help them to overcome current difficulties. Once they can change their thinking, they are often amazed at their ability to deal with problems. How have you coped with similar difficulties in the past?

11. Am I blaming myself for something which is not really my fault? Depressed people, for instance blame themselves for being depressed. They put it down to lack of willpower or weakness and criticise themselves for not 'pulling themselves together'. In fact, scientists have been studying depression for many years and they are still not certain what causes it. Depression is a difficult problem to solve and blaming yourself for it will only make you more depressed.

12. Am I taking something personally which has little or nothing to do with me? When things go wrong, depressed people often believe that in some way this is directed at them personally, or caused by them. in fact, it may have nothing to do with them.

13. Am i expecting myself to be perfect? It is simply not possible to get everything right all the time. Depressed people often set unrealistic high standards for themselves. Then they condemn themselves for making mistakes or acting in ways they would rather not have done. Accepting that you can't be perfect does not mean that you have to give up trying to do things well. It means that you can learn from your difficulties and mistakes instead of being upset and paralysed by them.

14. Am I using a double standard? You may be expecting more of yourself than you would of another person. How would you react to someone else in your situation? Would you be so hard on them? You can afford to be as kind to yourself as you would be to someone else. It won't lead to collapse.

15. Am I paying attention only to the black side of things? Are you, for instance, focusing on everything that has gone wrong during the day and forgetting or discounting things you have enjoyed or achieved?

16. Am I over-estimating the chance of disaster? Depressed people often believe that if things go at all wrong, disaster is sure to follow. If the day starts badly, it can only get worse. How likely is it that what you expect will really happen? Is there really nothing you can do to change the course of events?

17. Am I exaggerating the importance of events? What difference does a particular event really make to your life? What will you make of it in a week, a year, 10 yrs? Will anyone else remember what you now see as a terrible thing you do? Will you? If you do, will you feel the same way about it? Probably not!

18. Am I fretting about the way things ought to be, instead of accepting and dealing with them as they are? Are you allowing events in the world at large to feed your depression? telling yourself life is unjust and people brutes? It is sad that there is so much suffering in the world and you may decide to do what you can to change things but getting depressed about it does nothing to help.

19. Am I assuming I can do nothing to change my situation? Pessimism about the chances of changing things is central to depression. It makes you give up before you even start. You can't know there is no solution to your problems until you try. Is the way you are thinking helping you to find answers or is it making you turn down possible solutions without even giving them a go?

20. Am I predicting the future instead of experimenting with it? The fact that you have acted a certain way in the past does not mean to say that you have to do so in the future. If you predict the future, instead of trying something different, you are cuttingyourself off from the chances of change. Change may be difficult but it is not impossible.


The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong in the broken places

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 9/29/2008 9:19 AM (GMT -6)   

Thank you for the helpful information.  I am sure the members will benefit greatly from this.  I am not sure about the sticky part but Lyn will know as I know she has worked with Peter on getting stickies placed.

Gentle Hugs,


Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2008
Total Posts : 42
   Posted 9/29/2008 5:47 PM (GMT -6)   
This was great <3 Thank you :)

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 98
   Posted 9/30/2008 9:10 AM (GMT -6)   
good thread - where did you find this?  I do some of these things once I wake up and realize what i'm doing. 
I need some sort of sensor attached to me that sets off an alarm after detecting depression, irrational thought or anxiety.
Good timing - been hard to keep my brain in check lately.
xo - K
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