078: Five Simple Ways to Boost Your Happiness–#5: You Can CHANGE the Way You FEEL!

Building Self-Esteem and Overcoming Toxic Shame–as well as feelings of depression, anxiety, inferiority, hopelessness, and anger!

Let’s face it–nearly all of us fall into the black hole of depression, anxiety, shame, and self-doubt at times. Then it’s time to ask yourself what you’re telling yourself, write down your negative thoughts, identify the distortions in them, and substitute thoughts that are more positive and realistic. Sound too easy? The results can be mind-blowing!

David and Fabrice discuss a therapy session with a woman who had been hiding something about herself for nearly ten years due to feelings of shame. When she receives a phone call from someone in her church, her feelings of anxiety and shame hit the ceiling. Learn how she overcomes her feelings of angst and self-doubt using TEAM-CBT.

David hopes to make the actual video of this dramatic therapy session available soon right here at in his new Feeling Good Store! (still under development at the time of this write-up.)

While listening, you can download pdfs about each of seven steps to help you break out of bad moods and boost your self-esteem:

Step 1. Identify the Upsetting Event

If you click on Melanie’s Daily Mood Log you will see that the Upsetting Event was something seemingly innocuous.

Step 2. Rate Your Negative Feelings

If you click on Melanie’s Daily Mood Log again, you will see how she circled her feelings and rate each type of a feeling on a scale from 0% to 100%. You will see that her negative feelings were actually incredibly intense.

Daily Mood Log with feelings circled and rated

Step 3. Record Your Negative Thoughts

Cognitive therapists, going all the way back to the Greek Stoic philosopher, Epictetus nearly 2,000 years ago, say that we are upset, not by things, or events, but by our thoughts about them. If you click on Melanie’s Daily Mood Log with Negative Thoughts yet again, you will see what she was telling herself about the phone call from the member of her church.

Step 4. Positive Reframing

This is one of the many powerful new features of TEAM-CBT. Before trying to change the way you think and feel, focus on your negative thoughts and feelings one at a time and ask yourself two questions:

  1. What are some benefits, or advantages, of this negative thought or feelings?
  2. What does this negative thought or feeling show about me and my core values that’s positive and awesome?

Briefly stop the recording and review Melanie’s Daily Mood Log. Then see how many positives you can list. For example, what does Melanie’s shame show about her that is awesome and positive? And what are some really beautiful things about her sadness and depression? What are some potential benefits of her anxiety?

Step 5. Identify the Distortions

After the Paradoxical Agenda Setting (in this case, Positive Reframing), I asked Melanie what Negative Thought she wanted to work on first. She selected the second negative thought, “She’ll tell other people who will judge me.” See how many distortions you can find in this thought, using the list of ten distortions on her Daily Mood Log.

When you’re done, you can see how Melanie identified the distortions in this thought, using abbreviations, in the Distortion column of her Daily Mood Log. However, on the podcast, David identified one additional distortion he had overlooked during the live session with Melanie. Can you figure out which one it is?

Step 6. Challenge the Negative Thought

There are more 50 techniques that you can use to challenge a Negative Thought. After listing roughly 17 promising methods during the session, Melanie decided that she wanted to start out with a gentle method called the Paradoxical Double Standard Technique. If you click on Melanie’s Daily Mood Log  again, you can see the Positive Thoughts Melanie came up with to challenge the Negative Thought, “She’ll tell other people who will judge me.” You will also see how strongly she believed them. Remember that the Necessary Condition for Emotional Change is that the Positive Thoughts all have to be 100% true. Rationalizations and half-truths will rarely, if ever, give anyone genuine relief or mood elevation.

Now the question is this: Did the Positive Thoughts reduce Melanie’s belief in the Negative Thought? Remember the Sufficient Condition for emotional change: the Positive Thoughts must drastically reduce the belief in the Negative Thoughts. That’s the whole goal, in fact, of cognitive therapy. Remember, when you change the way you THINK you can change the way you FEEL!

If you click on Melanie’s Daily Mood Log again, you’ll see that her belief in the Negative Thought was, in fact reduced. Sometimes, you will want to reduce your belief in a Negative Thought all the way to zero. But in this case, 35% was sufficient, since some people may, in fact, judge Melanie, although most people probably will not.

Step 7. Outcome: Re-rate Your Negative Feelings

Once you’ve clobbered one negative thoughts, it’s generally much easier to knock the rest of your Negative Thoughts out of the park. This was the case with Melanie. If you review her final Daily Mood Log, you can see how she challenged the rest of her Negative Thoughts and the incredible impact this had on her feelings.

Coming Soon!

Next week we will have something very special and very precious for you–

Podcast 079: What’s the Secret of a “Meaningful” Life? Live Therapy with Daisy

This will be a dramatic and inspiring podcast that Fabrice and I feel very grateful to be able to share with you. The podcast will be based on an actual therapy session with a young woman who is struggling with depression, anxiety, and self-doubt because of fertility issues, due to strong. societal messages that women should have children and should want children. This will be a unique opportunity to go behind closed doors to see TEAM-CBT live and real with someone like yourself who is struggling with intense negative thoughts and feelings.

The live therapy sessions we have published previously–with Mark, who felt like a failure as a father, and with Marilyn, who was confronted by a sudden and totally unexpected horrific diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer–received tremendously positive feedback from all of you. Now we are proud to present yet another live therapy session next week! So mark your calendars!

Two Cool Upcoming Workshops for you!

May 20th, 2018  Advanced, High-Speed CBT for the Treatment of Depression and Anxiety A one day workshop by Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt. 6 CE Credits, $135
You can join in person or online from wherever you live!

March 22 and 23, 2018 Rapid Recovery from Trauma, (David D. Burns, MD) J&K Seminars, Lancaster, Pa 15 CE credits, includes live evening demonstration on the evening of day 1.
You can join in person or online from wherever you live! 

Additional Resources for the General Public (all available at, as well as other booksellers)

  • Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
  • The Feeling Good Handbook
  • Feeling Good Together
  • When Panic Attacks

General public and mental health professionals might enjoy the recent article about David in Stanford Magazine authored by Robert Strauss entitled “Mind Over Misery.”

Additional Resources for Mental Health Professionals

David’s TEAM-CBT Psychotherapy ebook: Tools, Not Schools, of Therapy

David’s Tuesday evening TEAM-CBT meets at the Behavioral Sciences Building, 401 Quarry Road, Room 2209 from 5:00 to 7:30 PM, and is free. It is open to all SF Bay Area mental health professionals as well as graduate students in any mental health field, including but not limited to Stanford graduate students. There are teachers include:

  • David Burns, MD
  • Helen Yeni-Komshian, MD
  • Jill Levitt, PhD
  • Daniele Levy, PhD

For information, requirements, and consent form, contact our Greeter, Sara Swedorski,

Fabrice and I hope you like our Feeling Good Podcasts, and also hope you can leave some positive comments for us and five star ratings if you like what we’re doing!


At least one listener has had problems leaving an iTunes review from his i-phone, so Fabrice has created some simple to follow instructions if you need help.



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