Step 3: Identifying the Consequences

Our thinking directly affects our feelings and behaviours

“My thoughts about people not liking me sometimes make me shy away from interacting with them without even realizing it.” – Jun, age 24

Negative thoughts often lead to us feeling bad in some way (e.g., sad, lonely, frustrated). We then tend to respond to such negative feelings in unhelpful ways (e.g., isolating ourselves, procrastination, lashing out at others) that usually make us feel even worse.

By making the connections between our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, we start to gain some control over them, rather than them controlling us. 

This can be easier said than done because sometimes we can get so caught up in our emotions that we react “instinctually” and don’t realize what we’re actually feeling and why. This is why taking the time to go through the Cognitive Restructuring Activity Sheet can be so helpful, as it allows us to reflect on different situations and connect the dots between what happened, our interpretation of the event, how it made us feel, and how we acted in response. 


To continue with our example from Steps 1 and 2, we now record the feelings and behaviours that occurred in response to our automatic negative thoughts using our Activity Sheet, your notes, or the form below. (Print/save responses to your device at each step. Our website does not record personal information you enter here.)


This afternoon, I texted three friends to see if they wanted to get together after work. Everyone’s busy, so I’m spending an evening alone with no plans.


No one wants to hang out with me. 

I’m not interesting enough for people to care about me.


 Sad, lonely, angry


Stayed home all evening and did nothing. 

Just sat around ruminating about not being good enough and all the ways I’ve screwed up in the past.

Cognitive Restructuring Template

Alternate Thoughts

For your own example, how did your automatic negative thoughts make you feel?  How did you act in response?

Once you’ve written out your feelings and behaviours in your notes or above, let’s move on to Step 4: Replacing Negative Thoughts.

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