Thinking Differently

Thinking Differently

The results of irrational and negative self talk are anxiety, depression, rage, guilt, jealousy, low frustration tolerance, shame and a sense of worthlessness

When self talk goes wrong!

Most of the time our self talk is accurate and a good reflection of reality meaning that we function well, however when our self talk becomes irrational and untrue, we can experience stress and emotional disturbance.

Irrational self talk    

Rational self talk   

I cant bear to be alone

Being  alone is uncomfortable and frustrating but I can live through it.

I should never be cruel to my friend. If I am, I’m a horrible person

The phrase ‘should never’ allows no possibility for flaw or failure. You have also called yourself horrible person based on a single incident. Maybe thinking ‘I may appear to be horrible, however I was simply communicating how I felt’ is a more rational or positive thought

How terrible to get rejected

I find it unpleasant, awkward in the moment when I get rejected

I’ve got to be more helpful around the house

There would be more peace and calm at home if I did a greater share of the work


Albert Ellis developed a model which outlines how the emotion we feel about something is actually more due to our ‘self talk’ than about the stimulus/event itself. For example, he suggests that our self talk or thoughts, which we direct and control, are actually what causes anxiety, anger, depression etc and not the stimulus itself.

For example, a customer buys something in the shop and are not happy with how it works. The customer asks the worker for a refund.

The shop assistant says to herself, she’s so moody, get over it, its cheap enough; why do I get all the moaning customers; I hate this job anyway.

Later that day the assistant feels low mood, anger and resentment.

How do you think this negative self talk about the event helps this person??


Your right, it doesn’t. This is the self talk or irrational idea’s which Albert Ellis was talking about. From one simple event, all of the following negative self talk has happened, which trigger many more negative emotions.


Q.   Can you think of any instances where something so small gets blown up into something much bigger, just like the sales assistant example above??


 Why is negative self talk bad for us??

Negative Self talk actually produces physiological arousal, meaning that your body tenses and becomes stressed when you use such irrational arguments.


How to stop negative self talk I hear you ask!

First have a check to see how many of these common irrational statements which can cause us distress (and you may not even know they do!)

  • I must have love and approval from peers family and friends
  • You must be competent, successful and perfect in all that you undertake
  • Certain people are evil, wicked and should be punished
  • It is horrible when people and things are not the way you would like them to be
  • External events cause most human misery. People react as events trigger their emotions.
  • You should feel fear or anxiety about anything that is unknown, uncertain or potentially dangerous.
  • It is easier to avoid than to face life’s difficulties and responsibilities
  • You absolutely need something other than yourself to rely upon
  • The past has a lot to do with determining the present
  • Happiness can be achieved by inaction, passivity and endless leisure
  • People are fragile and should never be hurt
  • Good relationships are based on mutual sacrifice and a focus on giving
  • If you don’t go to great lengths to pleasure others they will abandon or reject you
  • When people disapprove of you, it means you are wrong or bad
  • Happiness, pleasure and fulfilment can occur online in the presence of others
  • There is perfect love and a perfect relationship
  • You shouldn’t have to feel pain, you are entitled to a good life
  • Your worth as a person depends on how much you achieve and produce
  • Anger is automatically bad and destructive
  • It is bad or wrong to be selfish
  • You are helpless and have no control over what you experience or feel


Rules to support more rational thinking!

  • This situation is not making me feel anxious or afraid. I say things to myself that largely produce my anxiety and fear
  • Everything is exactly the way it should be. Get away from saying ‘shoulds and oughts’
  • All humans can fail. If you set the bar that you/others should not fail, your more likely to increase the likelihood of disappointment or unhappiness. It will lead one way- to you attacking yourself and others as worthless, bad and so on.
  • It takes two to have conflict. Stop the accusations and blame & remember that 30% energy is needed to fuel any fire!
  • Searching for the original cause of painful emotions is extremely difficult. The best thing you can do is to make decisions to change your behaviour now   
  • We largely feel the way we think, so how we interpret things is the reason we often feel as we do, not because of the event/object itself