Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Workshop
The Difference Between Thoughts and Feelings
Before we start filling out an Automatic Thought Record, it is important to make a distinction between thoughts and feelings. It’s quite common to mix these up a bit, and doing so will make it difficult to use an Automatic Thought Record effectively.
To start, thoughts tend to be phrases of two or more words we say to ourselves, while a feeling is generally one word. For example, I might think, “My job is too stressful.” While there is a feeling word in my thought (stress), this is really a thought I have about my job. The feelings I might have in association with this thought could include “stressed,” “anxious,” “sad,” “overwhelmed,” etc.
Take a look at the charts below and notice the differences between thoughts and feelings. You might even refer back to this page if you need some help identifying which feelings you have about a thought.
|"I'm not good enough."
"No one likes me."
"He shouldn't treat me that way."
"The future holds nothing for me."
"I can't do anything right."
|"I fail at everything I try to do."
"Problems at work are all my fault."
"My partner needs to change for me to be happy."
"I know I'm going to get fired."