Recap: unhelpful thinking makes you feel bad

In session five we looked at some unhelpful ways of thinking and learned some strategies to cope with intrusive and unhelpful thoughts. Hopefully you have been keeping a thought diary over the last week and hopefully you’ve noticed that some of those negative thoughts are not necessarily the truth. In this session we will discover how to challenge our negative thoughts.

Session six: challenging your thoughts

Take another look at the list of unhelpful thinking styles from the last session. Can you think of any times when you’ve thought in these negative ways:

Mind reading

Believing that people are thinking badly of you without any real evidence that they are.


Jumping to the worst conclusion.

All or nothing

Thinking you’ve failed if things didn’t go 100% right.

Fortune telling

‘knowing’ that things are going to go wrong.

Mental filter

Only thinking about the bad things in a situation and ignoring all the good things.

Self blame

Thinking everything is your fault.

Beating yourself up

Constantly criticising yourself.

Impossible goals

Thinking that nothing is ever good enough.

Fact or opinion?

Sometimes it's easy to forget that negative thoughts aren't facts- they are just opinions. If you believe that negative thoughts are facts then they are much more likely to make you feel bad. When you remind yourself that they are just an opinion, they lose their power over you.

It’s time to test if you can tell fact from opinion. Select a statement from the list below to reveal whether it is a fact or an opinion:

This is an opinion- it’s an example of beating yourself up. Nobody is entirely ‘good’ or ‘bad’; we’re all somewhere in the middle.

This is a fact. You either told someone the truth or you didn’t- there’s no disputing it.

This is an opinion. It’s an example of all or nothing thinking. It just can’t be true that every single second of your life has been a total disaster. There have probably been some good parts and some bad parts.

This is another fact. Things can only be fact if they are completely undisputable.

This is an opinion. It’s an example of fortune telling. Nobody can see into the future! A more balanced way of thinking would be. “I don’t think I am going to get better but I don’t know for sure”.

Next time you have an unhelpful thought, ask yourself - is it fact or opinion - and if it’s an opinion try to think about things in a more balanced way.

Fighting fire with fire

A powerful way to combat negative thoughts is to retaliate with positive thoughts. When you’re feeling low it can be really hard to think nice things about yourself, so you might find it useful to write a list of nice things about yourself. You might even want to write little post-it notes or stick up posters around your house with words of kindness on them!

Here’s some ideas of positive thoughts to get you started- see if you agree with any of these statements (it can be really hard to think nice things about yourself but it’s important to try really hard:

“Things will get better”
“I am successful” 

“I am competent”

“People like me"

© the brain clinic

Important: this self-help website is provided as a support tool to be used alongside professional help. The website is not intended to provide medical advice of any sort and you must see a doctor if you think you may have a mental illness.

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