080: Ask David: Where Do Negative Thoughts Come From?

“I’m a loser. . . I’m a failure. . . Where do my negative thoughts come from? “

In this podcast, David and Fabrice answer several fascinating questions submitted by listeners:

  1. Jackie asks where our distorted thoughts come from, since they are so often irrational and distorted, and inconsistent with the facts. Why do we sometimes beat up on ourselves relentlessly with negative thoughts?
  2. Tyler asks if it possible to do TEAM-CBT in conventional, 45 minute sessions. And if so, how? It seems my patients are just warming up by the end of the session, and then we have to start all over again the next week.
  3. Jess asks if it is possible to use the Five Secrets of Effective Communication in non-therapy settings. For example, if you are in a position of authority, like a high school teacher, will your students lose respect for you if you use the Five Secrets? Could you use the Five Secrets if you are working with violent gang members?

Two Cool Upcoming Workshops for you!

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! 

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!

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.



6 thoughts on “080: Ask David: Where Do Negative Thoughts Come From?

  1. To the question where do negative thoughts come from, I like Ron Siegel’s answer. He basically says we didn’t evolve to be happy, but rather anxious. We evolved to error on the side of caution and to be critical of our environmental and ourselves in order to survive and fit into our tribe or group. If there is a tiger in the bushes, then not checking leads to survival every time and therefore being cautious or having an anxious disposition is selected for over time. Reflecting on your group status allows you make corrections as needed, therefore socially conscious individuals were selected for. But of course in modern times this survival skill has run amuck.

  2. At the risk of being vulnerable, I thought I’d add a fifth possibly as to where negative thoughts come from.

    For those of us who believe there’s something beyond what we currently can measure, there is a possibility negative thoughts come from an external source in addition to the other 4 ideas presented. I personally believe there is both good (God) and evil (Satanic angels) that influences our thoughts in combination with genetics and past voices, etc.

    • Thanks, Angela. Religious people may, in fact, believe that our thoughts are influenced by good and evil influences, in addition to genetics and past experiences. I tend to focus on things from a scientific perspective for the most part, but strongly agree that as humans, we definitely have good and evil motives, but most of the time, we try to hide or rationalize our evil motives. So we may want to hurt someone we’re mad at, but tell ourselves we’re doing it in the name of some righteous cause or principle. Sadly, much of the horror in the world is perpetuated in the name of God, or some higher principle. To me, this self-deception is as big a problem as the hostile thoughts and actions. Just my take on it! david

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