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Negative Thoughts seem Convincing? Thoughts are Not Facts

When we’re not feeling well, our thoughts seem entirely believable and convincing. They are the truth! Here is a simple test to make the point that thoughts are not facts, and we don’t need to take them so seriously.

Here is a list of common negative thoughts adapted from Hollon and Kandall 1980. Look through the list and how believable they seem at this moment. Rate it for yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being highest.

Automatic Negative Thoughts

1. I feel like I’m up against the world

2. I’m no good

3. What can’t I ever succeed?

4. No one understands me.

5. I’ve let people down.

6. I don’t think I can go on.

7. I wish I were a better person

8. I’m so weak

9. My life’s not going the way I want it to

10. I’m so disappointed in myself

11. Nothing feels good anymore

12. I can’t stand this anymore

13. I can’t get started

14. What’s wrong with me?

15. I wish I were somewhere else.

16. I can’t get things together

17. I hate myself.

18. I’m worthless.

19. I wish I could just disappear

20. What’s the matter with me?

21. I’m a loser

22. My life is a mess.

23. I’m a failure

24. I’ll never make it.

25. I feel so helpless.

26. Something has to change.

27. There must be something wrong with me.

28. My future is bleak.

29. It’s just not worth it.

30. I can’t finish anything.

If you are not as depressed as you have been, how strongly, if at all, do you believe each of these thoughts RIGHT NOW?

When you were at your worst (most anxious or depressed), how strongly did you believe these then?

More often than not, these are much less convincing and believable when we’re feeling well, leaving us to the inevitable conclusion that these thoughts are not facts and we can acknowledge their presence when they come visit us and let them be, knowing that we don’t have to get dragged through the mud with them. Gently bring attention back to what is most important to pay attention to in that moment. You may do this over and over again holding a sense of compassion and kindness toward yourself during this process.

As always, please share your thoughts and questions below. Your interaction here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Negative Thoughts seem Convincing? Thoughts are Not Facts

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is creator of the six month online program A Course in Mindful Living, author of the book Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind, the premier eCourse Basics of Mindfulness Meditation: A 28 Day Program, the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations. Join The Now Effect Community for free Daily Now Moments and a Weekly Newsletter. Dr. Goldstein is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles.

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APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2009). Negative Thoughts seem Convincing? Thoughts are Not Facts. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 27 May 2009
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