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Hi all. Lately I've been reading "Feeling Good" by David Burns, and today I tried out his suggestion to write out an automatic negative thought record. It's essentially just writing out a scenario that evoked anxiety, the automatic negative thoughts that accompanied the scenario, and then identifying fallacies (thought distortions) in those automatic negative thoughts (he lists the most typical distortions in his book). After trying the exercise, I now realize how abusive, critical, and even hateful my automatic negative thoughts are towards myself. Burns says that this exercise should be done daily, so that one eventually acquires the habit of rationally refuting those automatic negative thoughts. I'm just wondering if anyone has done this exercise consistently, and whether the exercise has changed their attitude towards themselves.
 

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I've heard of that type of exercise before

the problem is, what if a lot of your negative thoughts actually have some merits to them? It seems like eventually, you'll start questioning whether your negative thoughts are as unrealistic as you've been trying to get yourself to believe.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I've heard of that type of exercise before

the problem is, what if a lot of your negative thoughts actually have some merits to them? It seems like eventually, you'll start questioning whether your negative thoughts are as unrealistic as you've been trying to get yourself to believe.
When I exposed my automatic negative thoughts on paper I realized how irrational they were -- e.g., calling myself abusive names for no reason. Surely, those are unreasonable. So, I think I can probably benefit from refuting those (and there are many of those swirling around in my mind, apparently).

I can understand your fear about a negative self-image matching with the facts, but I'm not sure if that fear is justified. Can you give me an example of some negative thought that might turn out to be realistic? (Would it be something like -- "I'm fat", or "I'm stupid", or something like that? In such a case the distortion is labelling -- perhaps you are fat right now, or perhaps you are stupid at such and such a subject -- but surely you can exercise to lose weight, or accept yourself the way you are; and just because you feel stupid doesn't mean you are, you're probably smart at another subject, etc.)

Moreover, the aim of the exercise isn't about creating an image of yourself that is groundlessly optimistic... it's about moving from a destructively negative self-image to a functional (more or less) neutral/realistic self-image, so that even if you end up discovering things that you don't like about yourself... you at least have the confidence (freedom from a crippling inner monologue) to make some changes.
 

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Hi all. Lately I've been reading "Feeling Good" by David Burns, and today I tried out his suggestion to write out an automatic negative thought record. It's essentially just writing out a scenario that evoked anxiety, the automatic negative thoughts that accompanied the scenario, and then identifying fallacies (thought distortions) in those automatic negative thoughts (he lists the most typical distortions in his book). After trying the exercise, I now realize how abusive, critical, and even hateful my automatic negative thoughts are towards myself. Burns says that this exercise should be done daily, so that one eventually acquires the habit of rationally refuting those automatic negative thoughts. I'm just wondering if anyone has done this exercise consistently, and whether the exercise has changed their attitude towards themselves.
ive done it and it certaintly puts things into perspective.

you realize that you are saying a awful lot of bad thing to yourself all day long so no wonder you feel anxious all of the time
 

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I have the New Mood Therapy and can agree that this is definitely a helpful exercise and leads to a more positive self-image. However I am still trying to see how this can possibly help an anxiety attack.

Say your about to give a speech and you start to get panicky, are you going to whip out a notebook and write down your negative thoughts in front of your audience? Say your at a party and your introduced to strangers and start to panic. Are you going to bust out your notes and start jotting down your cognitive distortions right then and there? Probably not.
 

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I have the New Mood Therapy and can agree that this is definitely a helpful exercise and leads to a more positive self-image. However I am still trying to see how this can possibly help an anxiety attack.

Say your about to give a speech and you start to get panicky, are you going to whip out a notebook and write down your negative thoughts in front of your audience? Say your at a party and your introduced to strangers and start to panic. Are you going to bust out your notes and start jotting down your cognitive distortions right then and there? Probably not.
You obv wouldn't whip out the notebook in those scenarios, but thats what other methods are for, so what I do/would do in those situations are some of the many other methods I have learned about. Such as, Breathing, Clenching Fists, Self-Talk etc..
 

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The lying ANTs.
Yes - it makes a difference, but it takes a looooooong time.
 
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