Feeling Good


Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, written by David D. Burns. The basic idea of the books seems to be instead of calling yourself a total loser, you should tell yourself that you sometimes fail and sometimes succeed just like everyone else and just let it go.

Principles of Cognitive Theraphy

  • Your cognitions determine your feelings
    • Cognitions include
      • Your toughts
      • Your interpretation of your surroundings
      • Your beliefes
      • Your judgments (what you tell / think about yourself or others)
  • When you feel depressed, you are more likely to focus on negativity in general
    • You start thinking past was never good and future never will be
    • You are dominated with the tought (not the feeling!) that the whole world is dark and gloomy
  • Depressed peoples cognitions almost always have either distoritons or are plain wrong
    • You end up living real feelings, based on distorted toughts

Ten Cognitive Distortions

  • All or Nothing Thinking
    • Seeing self as a total failure in case performance is not extremely perfect, perfectionism

Perfect is the enemy of good.


  • Labeling
    • A form of overgeneralization where you label yourself or people around you after incidents
  • Overgeneralization
    • Believing something happened once or a few times will happen over and over again
  • Jumping to Conclusions
    • Reading minds of other people, predicting the future
  • Mental Filter
    • Filtering out all positive experiences and being left with only negative
  • Disqualifying the Positive
    • Believing positive experiences do not count for whatever reason or were fake
  • Magnification or Minimization
    • Magnifying the importance of bad situations or minimizing achievements
  • Should Statements
    • Falsely replacing wants with shoulds and musts
  • Emotional Reasoning
    • Thinking that how you feel is the reality as in I feel bad so I am bad
  • Personalization
    • Taking blame on yourself incorrectly for things that are out of your control

Identifying Cognitive Distortions

Every time you feel depressed, stop and try to identify the thought that made you feel the way you are feeling. See if your thought contains any of the distortions listed above.

Building Self-Esteem

.. there is actually a formal thinking disturbance in depressed patients. Depressed people were compared to undepressed people in terms of extracting meaning from proverbs such as 'A stitch in time saves nine'. It was seen that depressed people had problems extracting the meaning and had many logical errors. They were overly concrete and could not make generalizations.

Talk Back to the Internal Critic

  • Listen to your inner critic, capture it
  • Write it down
  • Identify the in which category (or categories) the critic falls into from the Ten Cognitive Distortions lists above
  • Respond to the internal criticism by rationally responding to it also by noting your response
Criticism Cognitive Distortions Response
I know nothing about programming despite many hours I have invested in it. All or Nothing Thinking, Emotional Reasoning Yes, I forget some details I study, but not everything. And I remember things I have done before and look them up much faster when I face them even though I can not exactly remember the details.

Do Nothingism

  • When you are depressed, you do not feel like doing much
  • You start procrastination
  • You feel worse because you actually did procrastinate
  • You procrastinate even more
  • You end up in a vicios cycle which ends up in isolation

Find the Cause for Motivational Paralysis

  • When you think about an undone task, what thoughts immediatly come to your mind?
  • Try to find how your thoughts are distorted

Common Mind-Sets Most Commonly Associated with Do-Nothingism and Procrastination

  • Hopelessness
    • When you are depressed, you forget you ever felt better or you will ever feel better
  • Helplessness
    • You are convinced your moods are caused by factors beyond your control such as fate, luck or other peoples evaluations
  • Overwhelming
    • Imagining all the work that has to be done and being overwhelmed with it before even starting doing anything
  • Self Labeling
    • Labeling yourself a procrastinator hence not doing anything because this is who you are
  • Undervaluing Rewards
    • Beliving doing the task is not worth the effort
  • Perfectionism
    • Defeating self with inapproproate goals and standards and ending up settling with nothing instead
  • Fear of Success or Fear of Failure
    • Afraid of failing or successing so that you will need success every other time
  • Fear of Disapproval
    • Fear of criticsm, or fear of being able to handle any sort of criticism
  • Coercion and Resentment
    • Trying to motivate yourself with should statements which ends up building stress and anxiety
  • Low Frustration Tolerance
    • Beliving in For all the miles I have gone, I should be.. and not realising any steps you have taken so far
  • Guilt and Self Blame
    • Beliving you are bad or have let others down already in life which takes away any motivation to move on in life

How to Beat Procrastination?

  • Remember action brings motivation and not the otherway around
    • Do not wait for motivation to take action
    • Take action and invite motivation

Fight your Buts

But Rebuttal
I really should start entering my notes on the book to my webpage, but I am just not in the mood. I will feel more like it once I get started. When it is done, I will feel much better.
But it will take forever. No, it will not take forever. And I know I will enjoy doing when I get started.
But I feel very tired right now. I feel tired because I am not doing anything. If I really can not concentrate after I actually started, I can always rest. Procrastination is not resting and not the answer to being tired.

The TIC-TOC Technique

Task Interfering Cognitions Distortion Task Oriented Cognitions
I will never be able to clean up the storage room. Jumping to Conclusions
Why not, of course I will. I have to start somewhere. I do not need to finish all today.
This term paper / task is pointless. All or Nothing Thinking I sure am going to learn / gain something. It is better than doing nothing at all. I do not have to do it perfect anyway, just accept it and get it done.

Get It Done

(This is a technique I made up and not found in the book that works the best for me.)

Make a list of tasks you have walked away from, that have been waiting to be done for a while. Accept that you will not get some of them done and simply discard the least important. Put them in an order from either easier to more difficult, difficult to easier, shortest to longest or the other way around, whichever you believe will work the best for you. Do not come up with anything else that is not vital until this list is done. Prohibit yourself from creating more tasks such as I must get the car washed or I need to buy a new .. or whatever. Get the dead weight off your shoulders. Remember Yesterday, you said tomorrow.

Focus. Get a dumb wrist watch, put that cell phone away, in another room. Go offline. Get off the social media and focus. Do not waste much time on the looks, focus on the content and the workings.


Guilt vs Remorse

Guilt Remorse
Descrutive Constructive
Underlying reason is cognitive distortions Underlying reason is self awarness
Aimed at self Aimed at behavior
Leads to (self) Punishment Leads to (self) Improvement

Distinguising Guilt from Remorse

  • Am I expecting myself to be perfect?
  • Am I focusing on myself (labeling myself) or on the behavior?
  • Is the intensity and the duration of my suffering appropriate to what I actually did?
  • Am I learning from my error or punishing myself in a destructive manner?

The Irresponsibility of Guilt

Must you punish yourself for what you have done, and if yes what is the punishment and for how long? Is there an answer? Will you be able to stop being miserable after the punishment is served? Feeiling guilty will not reverse anything that has been done and labeling self as bad and beliving in it will lead up to further bad behavior.

Change and learning occur most readily when you (a) recognize that an error has occured and (b) develop a strategy for correcting the problem. An attitude of self-love and relaxation facilitates this, whereas guilt interferes.

  • Focus on the behavior
  • Conceptualize the impact of your behavior (empathy) and feel appropriate sorrow without labeling self as bad

Dealing with Guilt

  • Respond back to your toughts that makes you feel guilty, find the cognitive distortions in them
    • Remember: toughts are the sources of feelings, if they are distorted how you feel will not be reflected on the reality
  • Study your shoulds, eliminate unreasonable ones
    • I should always be happy
    • I should make my wife happy all the time

How should Defeats You

The major thing that holds you back when you're trying to change a bad habit like eating, smoking or drinking too much is your belief you are out of control. The cause of this lack of control is the should statements. They defeat you. Suppose, for example, you are trying to avoid eating ice cream. There you are watching TV, saying, "Oh, I really should study and I shouldn't eat any ice cream." Now ask yourself, "How do I feel when I say these things myself?" I think you know the answer: You feel guilty and nervous. Then what do you do? You go and eat! That is the point. The reason you are eating is that you're telling yourself you shouldn't! Then you try to bury your guilt and anxiety under more piles of food.

Guilt Source Reasonal Response
I should be able to make my wife happy (all the time). I wish I could make my wife happy all times but she is a human being and we all have our ups and downs. I will always be supportive, but this also means sometimes just letting it go.
I should be studying at least .. hours a day / week. I will aim at studying .. hours a day / week. I will log my time and do my best to achieve it. But who says I should? I wish I could, but life is full of good and bad surprises that needs adjusting to.