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Sport Psych


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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

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Cognitive Diary Example:
Making Assumptions about Another's Intentions

The following example is to help learn to identify and change irrational thinking. It uses the format of the Cognitive Diary CBT Self-help app.



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Additional reading:

  • How Do We Change Irrational Thinking?
  • Understanding and Using the Cognitive Diary
  • Articles defining irrational styles of thinking

  • Event: Getting angry when customer questions items included on a bill.

    Emotions: rage, disgust, vengeful

    Distress Rating: 7--Distress, less in control

    Thoughts (expressed to customer): I'm tired of people trying to cheat me when I've done work for them! I'm going to tear the work right out!

    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 rage, disgust, and vengefulness?

    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) Generalizing. Many times people react with anger because they are generalizing from other situations. When the customer calmly but assertively questioned items included on the bill, this person assumed that the customer was refusing to pay for these items. Rather than getting further information he jumped to the conclusion that the customer was trying to cheat him as others had done in the past.

    The way to manage generalizing and the anger that can ensue is to recognize that new situations, especially with new people, are not the same as past situations. By doing so, a person can then obtain further information about the situation before coming to any conclusions. In other words, ask all the questions before reacting. This not only gives a person time to calm themselves but also allows the other person to feel heard.

    2) Blaming. In this situation the individual immediately blamed the customer. Much anger is caused by seeing disputes as someone's fault and needing to assess blame. Instead, most disagreements or conflict have to do with misunderstandings, refusal to accept responsibility for mistakes, or an inability to take another person's perspective. In this case it seems that a misunderstanding of the customer's intentions led to the conflict. Possibly the individual also has a personal style of blaming others rather than accepting the possibility of making a mistake himself.

    Again, getting further information can help reduce blaming by settling misunderstandings. However, if the person has a blaming style it may take more effort to change this style. He may need to challenge his thinking routinely to help him recognize that blaming doesn't resolve conflict. In addition, he may need to use other anger control methods to reduce this reaction. For further assistance, see 5 Methods to Managing Anger.

    3) Catastrophic Thinking. He immediately assumed the worst case scenario that the customer was refusing to pay him when the customer was calmly questioning the bill. When a person assumes the worst they are more likely to react emotionally and not pay full attention to the facts of the situation.

    With this type of emotional reaction, the person needs to first calm down by recognizing that a simple disagreement is not a catastrophe. Even if the customer is refusing to pay the bill it is not a catastrophe. However, not listening to the customer, accusing the customer of cheating him, and engaging in behavior such as trespassing and tearing out the work that he had done could lead to more dire consequences.

    How Can This Thinking Be Changed?
    "I can't assume I know this person's intentions just because someone had cheated me before. Let me get more information about her concerns before I respond. If I can't respond right away I can always say 'Let me check it out and I will get back with you.' Then I can focus on calming myself before responding."

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