TEN WAYS TO UNTWIST YOUR THINKING
Thinking in Shades
The Survey Method
Write down your negative thoughts so you can see which of the
ten cognitive distortions you're involved in. This will make it
easier to think about the problem in a more positive and realistic
Instead of assuming that your negative thought is true, examine
the actual evidence for it. For example, if you feel that you never
do anything right, you could list several things you have done
Instead of putting yourself down in a harsh, condemning way,
talk to yourself in the same compassionate way you would talk to
a friend with a similar roblem.
Do an experiment to test the validity of your negative thought.
For example, if, during the episode of panic, you become terrified
that you're about to die of a heart attack, you could jog or run up
and down several flights of stairs. This will prove that your heart
is health and stron .
Although this method might sound drab, the effects can be
illuminating. Instead of thinking about your problems in all-or-
nothing extremes, evaluate things on a range of 0 to 100. When
things don't work out as well as you hoped, think about the
experience as a partial success rather than a complete failure.
See what ou can learn from the situation.
Ask people questions to find out if your thoughts and attitudes
are realistic. For example, if you believe that public speaking
anxiety is abnormal and shameful, ask several friends if they ever
felt nervous before the ve a talk.
When you label yourself "inferior* or "a fool" or "a loser," ask,
"What is the definition of a 'fool'? " You will feel better when you
see that there is no such thin as a "fool" or a "loser."
Simply substitute language that is less colorful and emotionally
loaded. This method is helpful for "should statements." Instead
of telling yourself "I shouldn't have made that mistake," you can
say, "It would be better if I hadn't made that mistake."
Instead of automatically assuming that you are "bad" and blaming
yourself entirely for a problem, think about the many factors that
may have contributed to it. Focus on solving the problem instead
of usin u all our ene blamin ourself and feelin
List the advantages and disadvantages of a feeling (like getting
angry when your plane is late), a negative thought (like "No
matter how hard I try, I always screw up"), or a behavior pattern
(like overeating and lying around in bed when you're depressed).
You can also use the Cost-Benefit Analysis to modify a self-
defeatin belief such as, "l must al
to be rfect"
1989 by David D. Burns, M.D., from The Feeling Good Handbook