Use the thought record worksheet to help you take a step back and re-evaluate thoughts that make you feel miserable.
One of the fundamental principles of CBT is that how we think affects how we feel and vice versa. When we feel depressed or anxious it is easy for our thinking to be biased towards negative conclusions despite evidence to the contrary. A thought record is a tool to help you pause and take a step back in order to re-evaluate the automatic conclusions you come to that can make you feel hopeless, helpless, trapped, and defeated.
Choose a recent situation that made you upset or contributed to making you feel bad about yourself or your life. Fill in the thought record using that specific situation following the steps outlined below.
1) Situation: record anything relevant about the situation you were in that acted as a trigger for you to feel bad (or worse). Describe the situation as factually and neutrally as you can e.g. "1030am, Saturday morning, seeing my friend cross the road and not stop to talk to me."
2) Emotion: write down what emotions you felt at that moment. It's easy to get thoughts and feelings mixed up so remember, feelings are usually most easily described in a single word e.g. sad, nervous, angry, frustrated, ashamed, jealous, glad, surprised, disappointed, miserable etc.
3) Thoughts: try to remember the thoughts and images that went through your mind at the time. Try to stick to what that event seemed to mean to you at that moment e.g. "she doesn't want to talk to me, she doesn't think I have anything to say, she must think I'm boring." If you notice that you have more than one thought about the situation, try to work out which thought is most upsetting: we call this thought the "hot thought".
5) Evidence for: concentrating only on the hot thought, make a list of all the hard facts (not opinions) that make the hot thought seem likely to be true.
6) Evidence against: make a list of all the hard facts that you might have been overlooking that contradict the hot thought. For example, ask yourself:
7) Fair and realistic alternative: weigh up the evidence for and against the hot thought impartially, just as a jury has to weigh up the evidence form the prosecution and defence. Write down a fair and realistic conclusion about the situation that takes account of all the evidence.
8) Revisit your feelings: having weighed up the evidence and come to a fair and realistic conclusion that takes account of all the evidence, how do you feel now, compared to how you felt at the time or later when you thought about the situation?
9) Learning: reflect on the process of re-evaluating your thoughts: what have you learned about how your mood can influence the way you think?