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Recap: unhelpful thinking makes you feel bad.

Yesterday we looked at some unhelpful ways of thinking. You learned that pushing away intrusive thoughts makes things worse. Today we will cover some strategies to challenge unhelpful thoughts.

Unhelpful Thoughts

Let's take another look at the list of unhelpful thoughts from yesterday's lesson. Can you think of times when you've thought in these negative ways?

Mind Reading

Thinking that people think badly of you.


Jumping to the worst conclusion.

All or Nothing Thinking

Thinking things have gone badly if they aren't 100% perfect.

Fortune Telling

'Knowing' that things are going to go wrong.

Mental Filter

Looking at only the negative parts of a situation and ignoring the positives.

Self Blame

Thinking everything is your responsibility.

Beating Yourself Up

Constantly criticising yourself.

Impossible Goals

Thinking that nothing is ever good enough.

Intrusive Thoughts

Thinking about weird stuff and trying to push it out of your head.

When you get an unhelpful thought like the ones above, ask yourself: is it fact or opinion?

Fact or Opinion?

People with depression often forget that their negative thoughts are just opinions and aren't necessarily facts.

If you believe your opinions are facts, they are much more likely to make you feel bad.

Are these statements fact or opinion?

Select a statement below to reveal if it's a fact or an opinion

This is an opinion - it's an example of beating yourself up. Nobody is an entirely 'good' or a 'bad' person; we're all somewhere in between. Instead of wanting to be a good person all of the time, just try to be good person most of the time.

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 an impossible goal. The reality is that nobody is 100% perfect in real life, even if they look it.

This is another opinion. It's an example of all or nothing thinking.  It just isn't true that 100% of your life has been a total disaster- there have been some bad parts and some good parts.

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

This is an opinion. It's an example of fortune telling. Nobody can see into the future. It's better to think "I can't see myself getting better but I don't know for sure".

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

Fighting Fire with Fire

A powerful way of combating negative thinking is to retaliate with nice thoughts about yourself.

Thinking of good things about yourself can be really hard. Here's some ideas to get you started:

  • "Things will get better" - have you got through any difficult times in your life? 
  • "I am successful" - have you passed any exams at school or done well at hobbies like sports or music?
  • "I am competent- are you good at your job, or good at cooking, cleaning, art or singing?
  • "People like me" - do you have people in your life who like you, like friends, family or colleagues?

Write down three nice things about yourself. Next time you have a negative thought, take a look at your list of nice things and remind yourself to think in a more balanced way.

Today's Summary

Remember these three things

  1. UNHELPFUL THOUGHTS - Noticing that you're having unhelpful thoughts is half the battle. Say to yourself "I'm having another unhelpful thought".
  2. FACT OR OPINION - Lots of your unhelpful thoughts are just opinions. When you stop treating these thoughts as facts, you will break the Vicious Cycle by thinking in a more balanced way.
  3. THINKING NICE THOUGHTS - Whenever you are overwhelmed by negative thinking, look at your list of nice thoughts.

Lesson Complete!
Here's your homework:

Whenever you start to think in a negative way, ask yourself: is it fact or opinion?, and think in a more balanced way.