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Cognitive Diary Example:
Worried that Someone Dislikes Her

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.




Additional reading:

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

  • Event: A co-worker acts like she dislikes me--she doesn't seem very friendly towards me

    Emotions: confused, distressed, resentful

    Distress Rating: 7--Distress, less in control

    Thoughts: What's wrong with me that she doesn't like me? I'm a nice person and didn't do anything to her. I've tried everything--I don't know what else to do. What if I can't make her like me? It is so unfair. Who does she think she is to treat me like this? What a snob!

    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 confusion, distress, and resentment?

    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) Catastrophizing. This person has the irrational belief that it is horrible that someone might not like her. So it is first important to challenge this belief. It is not possible to be liked by everyone. Everyone is different with different preferences and interests. In fact, why would anyone want to be liked by everyone? For instance, do you want to be liked by people who engage in behaviors you consider unethical? Or, do you want to be liked because someone feels obligated to like you? What if they don't have time for a new friend but feel like they should spend time with you?

    In addition, trying to be liked by everyone might even make a person less likable. If a person tries to be liked by everyone it means that person is not being genuine. Instead, they are being deceptive by trying to please everyone. In other words, if someone doesn't like you, it is a good thing because you are being naturally who you are. Of course, if most people don't like you, it may be a different type of problem.

    2)Mind-reading. Because she is concerned about whether other people like her, she is more sensitive to behaviors that could be construed as dislike. However, unless a person directly says, "I don't like you" many of these behaviors can be misinterpreted. For instance, the other person could be shy or could be more social with people she knows better. Sometimes behaviors can be related to different cultures or backgrounds. Or, she could be intimidated or lost in thought or numerous other reasons why she behaves the way she does.

    When you assume the other person's behavior is about you without any clear indication, you are mind-reading. Often people can be very convincing in their reasons for mind-reading but without clear evidence they are likely to be wrong. It is best to recognize that mind-reading is often inaccurate and not to make assumptions. If a person is still concerned, they can check it out directly, "You always seem to ignore me--is there a problem?" However, it is not a good idea to do this excessively as others might find it annoying.

    3) Blaming. This individual became angry when she realized she was helpless to change the situation. So instead of accepting that she can't be liked by everyone she blamed the other person and labeled her negatively. Even if the other person doesn't like her it doesn't mean that person is bad. It just means people have differences or other priorities and we can't be liked by everyone. Blaming the other person when emotional distress is due to personal insecurities is not conducive to developing good relationships.

    How Can This Thinking Be Changed?
    "I don't know how this person feels about me but even if she does dislike me, it is okay. My self-worth isn't based on whether this person likes me. Everyone is different and if I'm genuinely myself some people may not like me. That is okay because I like who I am."



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