THE MOOD DIARY
The next part you will learn is the mood diary. It is an important aspect of cbt. First thing to do is get an exercise book. If you can't buy one because you can't go to the shop, then just use your computer.
Write down the situations where you felt anxious or shy. (In a bar and was laughed at)
Write down the emotions you felt and their intensity on a scale of 1 - 10. Humiliation (9), Shame (
Write the automatic thoughts you got at the time (people were all staring at me and thinking how much of a loser I am, people seem to always put me down).
Come up with the evidence you feel confirms those negative thoughts (it's best to take one thought at a time).
Come up with evidence you feel disproves those negative thoughts (one thought at a time).
Challenge the negative thoughts (one thought at a time) with a more rational and helpful one.
Re-rate your mood.
Here is a way of writing it out.
Situation: Thinking of approaching a girl.
Moods: Fear (9), Incompetent (9), Inferior (9)
Automatic Thought: She won't like me and will reject me. I'll stuff my words up and then she'll look at me weird. I'll blush and look nervous and then she'll
think I'm pathetic. I'll have nothing to say.
Evidence for thoughts: Heaps of girls didn't like me at school. I was either teased or ignored by girls. I have stuffed up my sentences before whever I got anxious and people have looked at me a little weird sometimes. People have made neative comments on my blushing and nervousness before. I often find I have nothing to say and just end up sitting there in a panic. I often just seem to blush whenever I feel I am being rejected.
Evidence against thoughts: Some girls were my friend and some had a crush a me as well. Most people ignore it when I screw up my sentences. Most people have never told me I am pathetic for blushing or looking nervous. When I'm relaxed with someone I can usually talk more easily.
Alternative: I am fortune telling because unless I take the plunge I cannot be 100% certain I'll be rejected. I am using the way I feel to make my judgement about what I expect will happen. Just because I feel I will be rejected doesn't mean it will necessarily happen. Even if I am rejected it doesn't mean the end of the world for me, it just means I must look elsewhere. I am magifying the worst outcome. If I stuff my words up the worst thing to happen isn't a total catastrophy. She'll pobably wait until I get the words out right anyway rather than insulting me or walking away. If I get nervous and blush the worst thing to happen will be what ? I bit of awkwardness. Big deal! Once I approach I will just say hello and introduce myself. I can just say anything. It doesn't have to be interesting or amusing. At least that would be better than nothing. As I look upon this I realize I am focussing on all the things that could go wrong and totally ignoring anything that could go right.
Re-rate mood: fear (4), Incompetent (5), Inferior (4)
If you want you can add an action plan at the end. Simply suggest ways of doing or handling things.
Action plan: If I really end up annoying her or get lost for words I will just smile politely and walk off.
Many times finding out what your negative thoughts are in the situation can be tough. So here is a bunch of question that will help you find them out.
What does this say about me if it is true ?
What does this mean about my life, my future, about me ?
What am I afraid might happen ?
What is the worst thing that could happen if this is true ?
What does this mean about how the other person thinks or feels about me ?
What does this mean about the other person / people in general.
What image or memories do I have in this situation ?
Also finding evidence that doesn't support the thought can be difficult as well. These questions can help you out.
Have I had any experiences that show this thought is not completely true all the time ?
If my someone I loved had this thought, what would I tell them ?
What would that person tell me or point out to show that thought isn't always true or is false.
When I'm not feeling this way do I or would I think about the situation differently ? How ?
When I have felt this way in the past how have I helped myself feel better ?
Have I been in this situation before ? What happened ? Is there anything different between this situation and the previous ones ? What have I learned from past experience that could help me now ?
Are there any small things that contradict my thoughts that I might be discounting now as not important ?
Are there any strengths or positives in me or in the situation that I am ignoring ?
Am I jumping to conclusion that are not completely justified by the evidence ?
Am I blaming myself for something over which I do not have complete control ?
Finding an alternative can also be difficult. Here are somethings to help.
Stick to the facts. What evidence do you have to support this thought ?
Does your thinking fit with what happened ?
What is the best way of seeing things ? What is the most realistic or likely to be true ?
Another way is to do a mood diary is like this.
Situation: want to go over to that girl.
Moods: Anxious (9), Inadequate (10)
Negative thoughts: I wont have anything interesting to say (belief in thought: 100%), she'll probably snap at me (belief in thought: 100%)
Take one negative thought at a time and find the distortions in them. Don't worry about being perfectly accurate with picking out the distortions.
Negative thought : I wont have anything interesting to say (belief in thought: 100%)
You think that you MUST or SHOULD have something interesting to say. You are placing intense pressure on yourself
Black and white thinking
You think you better come up with something terribly interesting to say
otherwise you wont be able to say anything at all and there is simply no other way to be
You focus mainly on the thought of whatever you say won't be interesting when it just might be
No matter what you come up with you shoot it down as uninteresting
You FEEL anything you say will be uninteresting and that feeling convinces you completely
You believe that whatever you say will be totally and utterly boring beyond any comprehension
Because you believe what you have to say is uninteresting you make the mistake of thinking others will think the same
You predict she will think whatever you say will be boring whan infact she might not
You place way too much emphasis and impotance on the entertainment factor in what you say when the most important thing at the time is to get her to notice you are alive.
Now write down a list of more balanced and/or positive thoughts to counter the negative one. Then next to it write how much you believe the positive thought and next to that write how much you believe the negative one. The more you believe the positive one the lower the negative thought will have a hold on you.
Your aim is to get the old thought down to zero or until you feel it no longer leaves you inhibted or anxious.
Postive thought Belief Belief in Old Thought
I can say anything. It doesn't 70% 90%
have to be very interesting. I
can start by smiling and saying
hello and just talk about the
She might be interested in listening 70% 80%
When I am calm I don't think what I 100% 60%
say is unintersting
She'll probably be more interested in 80% 45%
what I have to say than if i'm
Conversations with someone in a bar
usually start of superficially anyway 90% 30%
I doubt she will find what I say
dreadfully boring. 95% 15%
If you find you cannot bring down the belief in the old thought then you may have to resort to different approaches to challenge them. There are literally dozens of them around.
Whichever method you use, you should try to fill the diary in as much as possible. Even think of events from the past and write them down if you want to. Practice catching when your mood changes and try to isolate the thoughts that you think. You will get better at this the more you do it. The evidence you come up with to support any thoughts should not be based on your feelings. Feelings are not evidence. That is the emotional reasoning distortion. Try your best at arguing back against negative thoughts with rational alternatives until there is a shift in your mood. If you can't, just leave it for the time being and come back later and do it.