Excel At Life logo


PsychArticles button PsychNotes button PsychApps button PsychAudios button PsychTests button About button
Support Excel At Life's Mission!
Help Translate
Spread the Word
Make Contribution
Become a fan on Facebook! Follow on twitter for site updates! Follow on Google+ for site updates!
Excel At Life--Dedicated to the Pursuit of Excellence in Life, Relationships, Sports and Career











Sport Psych


Crazy-Makers: Dealing with Passive-Aggressive People

Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

When You Have Been Betrayed

Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions

The Secret of Happiness: Let It Find You (But Make the Effort)

Excellence vs. Perfection

Depression is Not Sadness

Conflict in the Workplace

Motivation: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

7 Rules and 8 Methods for Responding to Passive-aggressive People

Promoting Healthy Behavior Change

10 Common Errors in CBT

What to Do When Your Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage

Rejection Sensitivity, Irrational Jealousy and Impact on Relationships

For Women Only: How to Have the Relationship of Your Dreams

What to Do When Your Partner's Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Relationship

Making Attributions for a Healthier Attitude

Happiness is An Attitude

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Guide to How to Set Achieveable Goals

The Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Co-Dependency: An Issue of Control

The Pillars of the Self-Concept: Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy

Catastrophe? Or Inconvenience?


Panic Assistance

Motivational Audios

Mindfulness Training

Rational Thinking

Relaxation for Children

Change Yourself--Don't Wait for the World to Change

Loving Kindness Meditation

Self-Esteem Exercise

Meadow Relaxation

Rainy Autumn Morning

Energizing Audios

Quick Stress Relief

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Choosing Happiness

Lotus Flower Relaxation

Audio Version of Article: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

Audio Version of Article: Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

Audio Version of Article: Happiness Is An Attitude

All Audio Articles

Kindle Books by Dr. Monica Frank


Why You Get Anxious When You Don't Want To

Why People Feel Grief at the Loss of an Abusive Spouse or Parent

“Are You Depressed?”: Understanding Diagnosis and Treatment

15 Coping Statements for Panic and Anxiety

Beyond Tolerating Emotions: Becoming Comfortable with Discomfort

Emotion Training: What is it and How Does it Work?

How You Can Be More Resistant to Workplace Bullying

Are You Passive Aggressive and Want to Change?

When Your Loved One Refuses Help

The Porcupine Effect: Pushing Others Away When You Want to Connect

What if You Considered Other Peoples' Views?

5 Common Microaggressions Against Those With Mental Illness

What to Expect from Mindfulness-based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (MCBT) When You Have Depression and Anxiety

Does Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Lack Compassion? It Depends Upon the Therapist

When Needs Come Into Conflict

What to Do When Anger Hurts Those You Love

A Brief Primer On the Biology of Stress and How CBT Can Help

50 Tools for Panic and Anxiety

Coping With Change: Psychological Flexibility

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Ending a Bad Relationship

I'm Depressed. I'm Overwhelmed. Where Do I Start?


Building Blocks Emotion Training

Hot Springs Relaxation

5 Methods to Managing Anger

Panic Assistance While Driving

Autogenic Relaxation Training

Rainbow Sandbox Mindfulness

Mindfulness Training

Riding a Horse Across the Plains

Cityscape Mindfulness

Change Yourself--Don't Wait for the World to Change

The Great Desert Mindfulness

Tropical Garden Mindfulness

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Probability and OCD

Choosing Happiness

Magic Bubbles for Children

Lotus Flower Relaxation

Cloud Castles for Children

Hot Air Balloon Motivation

All Audio Articles

Cognitive Diary Example


Previous        Next


The following is an example to help learn how to identify and change irrational thinking. It is best to read the articles defining the irrational styles of thinking prior to trying to identifying the styles in the example. It uses the format of the COGNITIVE DIARY CBT SELF-HELP app. Read: Understanding and Using the Cognitive Diary.

Sister Marrying the Wrong Man

EVENT: Sister won't listen to me about the mistake she is making

EMOTIONS: frantic, frustrated, worried

DISTRESS RATING: 8--High level of distress

THOUGHTS: “My sister has always been so impulsive and now she's deciding to get married without thinking it through. She hasn't really known him that long. I think this will be disastrous and I'll have to pick up the pieces like I always do. How can I get her to listen to me?”

CAN YOU IDENTIFY THE IRRATIONAL THINKING IN THIS EXAMPLE? There are at least 3 irrational beliefs.

HOW CAN YOU CHANGE THE THINKING? What is another way of thinking about the situation that won't cause the feelings of being frantic, frustrated, and worried?

The Cognitive Diary CBT Self-Help app helps you to determine some ways to challenge the irrational thinking. Once you have done that, it is important to read the rational challenges frequently until they automatically come to mind rather than the irrational thinking.


Irrational Beliefs:

1) Shoulds. Even though this person doesn't use the word "should" the demand is implied in her thoughts. She believes that she is right and knows what is best for her sister. It is understandable that she cares about her sister and wants her to make decisions that will lead to happiness. However, she can't know the outcome of her sister's decision at this point. She doesn't even have good evidence other than the fact that they haven't known each other that long. But she believes that her sister should listen to her rather than acting impulsively.

2) Catastrophizing. Saying that she knows that the outcome will be "disastrous" is extreme thinking. She is making an assumption about the unknown future, and again, believing that she is right. Maybe her sister has made disastrous mistakes in the past, but that doesn't mean this one will be. Also, it could just be her definition of the outcome of her sister's decisions. In other words, she sounds like a perfectionist who might believe that any kind of a mistake is a disaster. Sometimes mistakes are just mistakes and can be opportunities to learn. If she wasn't always thinking for her sister, her sister may have to think for herself and not be as impulsive in her decision-making. Or, maybe her sister is okay with accepting the consequences of her decisions and doesn't view them as disasters.

3) Internal Control. She tends to take responsibility for other people's lives. This is an aspect of internal locus of control in which she believes that the outcome of situations is based upon her effort. In other words, her sister's life and happiness is her responsibility and she must make her sister see that she is right. The problem with this type of thinking is that her sister is an adult and responsible for her own decisions. However, this sister is believing that she will have to "pick up the pieces." When people are overly responsible others often let them have the responsibility and become less self-reliant. Then the responsible person often becomes resentful because they have to take care of everyone. That is her choice. She can also choose to support her sister but let her sister manage the consequences of her decision, good or bad.

How Can This Thinking Be Changed? "I don't have control over my sister's life. Her decisions are her responsibility, not mine. All I can do is love her and support her. Trying to tell her what to do will only hurt our relationship. I want to be there if she should need me. But I also want to be happy for her and hope that it will work out. I'm not going to make assumptions about her future because I can't know the future."

Previous        Next


Questions and Comments

All comments and questions require approval so you may not see your submission immediately.

Share a Situation to be Used For Future Examples.
Please provide it in the format used above: describe event, feelings, and how you were thinking in the situation. Any comments or information you share may be used for future articles or examples.  However, identifying information will not be used:

Message.  Provide an example of a situtation you have had so suggestions can be provided on this site regarding how to identify irrational thinking and challenge it. It is important to provide details regarding the thoughts you had about the situation.

Enter email address (optional) to contact you if we need further info.
Your email address will not be shared or used in any way other than how you specify:

Become a fan on Facebook! Follow on twitter for site updates! Follow on Google+ for site updates!