Negative Automatic Thoughts Diary

Posted on June 25th, 2012

Negative Automatic Thoughts Diary

Many psychological problems can be caused by negative automatic thoughts that you may not be aware of 1. One of the ways to become conscious of these thoughts is to daily record your dysfunctional thoughts. This can help you identify your negative thoughts and change them for more positive and constructive ones. You can keep such a diary by writing down the answers in a journal to the following question whenever you experience a negative feeling such as depression or anger:

  1. In what situation did the feeling occur?

  2. What (automatic) thought passed through your mind?

  3. What type of cognitive distortion can you identify in your thinking?

  4. How could you rationally and constructively repined to the thought?

  5. How might your new response change your emotion?

Being aware of your tendencies to make certain cognitive distortions can be helpful, because if you are aware of your tendencies, you can take steps to control them. 


  1. Engler, B. (2009). Personality theories: an introduction (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. 

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