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  1. #1

    Ten Ways to Untwist Your Thinking

    Ten Ways to Untwist Your Thinking
    by David D. Burns, M.D.
    From The Feeling Good Handbook

    1. Identify The Distortion: 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 way.

    2. Examine The Evidence: 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 successfully.

    3. The Double-Standard Method: 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 problem.

    4. The Experimental Technique: Do an experiment to test the validity of your negative thought. For example, if during an 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 healthy and strong.

    5. Thinking In Shades Of Grey: Although this method may sound drab, the effects can be illuminating. Instead of thinking about your problems in all-or-nothing extremes, evaluate things on a scale 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 you can learn from the situation.

    6. The Survey Method: Ask people questions to find out if your thoughts and attitudes are realistic. For example, if you feel that public speaking anxiety is abnormal and shameful, ask several friends if they ever felt nervous before they gave a talk.

    7. Define Terms: 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 realize that there is no such thing as 'a fool' or 'a loser.'

    8. The Semantic Method: 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."

    9. Re-attribution: 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 using up all your energy blaming yourself and feeling guilty.

    10. Cost-Benefit Analysis: 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-defeating belief such as, "I must always try to be perfect."

    See also Feeling Good Home Page

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Re: Ten Ways to Untwist Your Thinking

    These strategies are great when dealing with those sorts of unwanted thoughts. I have a hard time, though, applying this sort of thing in situations where it seems like the problem is external rather than internal.

    If I'm feeling like a loser or something, the ideas posted above are exactly what is needed. When I'm miserable because of actual events that are happening, though...Maybe someone can give me a fresh perspective here (I hope). What can I do to snap my brain out of a funk when the problems aren't internal in origin? How do I apply these familiar CBT-based ideas to events happening in the physical world? (e.g., can't make the bills, or the car broke down, or can't afford something that I need, etc.) I've made some progress with using techniques such as those above when I'm feeling bad because of my own faulty interpretation of things. I just can't figure out how to feel better when I feel that there'a legitimate reason!
    Last edited by Charity; June 17th, 2009 at 10:26 AM. Reason: typo

  3. #3

    Re: Ten Ways to Untwist Your Thinking

    CBT may not help as much with reality-based thinking and perception but it can still help to limit or reframe catastrophic thinking or categorical/black-and-white thinking. That in turn may help to open up some new alternatives for addressing the issue or problem that had not previously occurred to you.

    Another helpful strategy is "what can I do about this today?". List the problems or issues to be addressed in order of priority. Then, starting with the top one on the list, ask yourself "what can I do about this problem today?". If the answer is "nothing", leave it for now - you can ask the same question tomorrow. Move down the list until you find something associated with something that you can do today - and do it.

    And remember to try to think about and look at only one thing at a time. If you try to look at, address, or resolve all of the things in your life that concern you, you'll be overwhelmed and paralyzed. You can only really think about or do something about one thing at a time. Ordering the problems by priority and asking the "what can I do about this today?" question helps you to decide where to start.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Southern Illinois, USA
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    Re: Ten Ways to Untwist Your Thinking

    Quote Originally Posted by David Baxter View Post
    And remember to try to think about and look at only one thing at a time. If you try to look at, address, or resolve all of the things in your life that concern you, you'll be overwhelmed and paralyzed.
    Ain't that the truth! Thanks for your thoughts.

  5. Re: Ten Ways to Untwist Your Thinking

    Hey David these points you make are a tremendous help. They are exactly what I was looking for. And simply put, those are the exact things you need to think about so that you don't get down on yourself and waste all that energy and the negative aspects.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    British Columbia
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    Re: Ten Ways to Untwist Your Thinking

    Quote Originally Posted by see View Post
    Hey David these points you make are a tremendous help. They are exactly what I was looking for. And simply put, those are the exact things you need to think about so that you don't get down on yourself and waste all that energy and the negative aspects.
    Hi See!

    I just wanted to say welcome to the forum. I hope you find the information useful.


  7. #7

    Re: Ten Ways to Untwist Your Thinking

    Quote Originally Posted by David Baxter View Post
    Another helpful strategy is "what can I do about this today?". List the problems or issues to be addressed in order of priority. Then, starting with the top one on the list, ask yourself "what can I do about this problem today?". If the answer is "nothing", leave it for now - you can ask the same question tomorrow. Move down the list until you find something associated with something that you can do today - and do it.

    Wow, this sounds like such a good thing to do.I'm definitely gonna try it. But how do you prioritize?

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