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You are here:   Cancer and Work Interactive Tools Identify and challenge your unhelpful thoughts

Identify and challenge your unhelpful thoughts

Instructions: Take a few moments to think about the unhelpful thoughts you may have about your job. Record them below. We then take you step by step to help you examine your thoughts. This tool is based on the BC Cancer Agency’s Cancer and Returning to Work: A Practical Guide for Cancer Patients.1

It will take approximately 10 minutes to complete this tool.

Here are the thoughts you've entered so far:

# Unhelpful statement Unhelpful thought pattern(s) Realistic statement(s)
When you've entered all your unhelpful thoughts, click below

You'll be able to print your results to give to your employer

Or add another unhelpful thought pattern below:

Step 1
Identify your unhelpful thought

Write an unhelpful thought or a thought that causes you to feel distressed.

Example: 'At work, when my boss approaches my desk, usually in the early morning or late afternoon.'
Example #2: 'Last night I was at home and lying in bed trying to go to sleep'

Describe how you felt after thinking this thought:


Step 2
Recognize your unhelpful thoughts

Choose one or more unhelpful thought patterns that describes your thought:

You see things as opposites (black and white, all or nothing), and cannot perceive the gray or middle ground. You think things are either wonderful or awful, good or bad, perfect or a failure.
You take a single negative event, interpret all other events in a negative way relating to the single negative event, and overlook other positive or neutral characteristics of the situation which disprove your subsequent negative interpretation of events.
You generalize a single negative event to a variety of other situations, even though you have no proof for it.
This is the binocular trick. You perceive things bigger or smaller than they truly are. For example, you over or under-estimate the importance of whatever you are looking at including work tasks, skills, abilities, accomplishments.
You assume that you know the reasons for the actions of others and their thoughts without checking.
You assume that you know how things will turn out or what other people will do in the future.
You think that something is only good enough if it is perfect. And because you can’t make it perfect, you’re never satisfied and can never take pride in anything.
You know how the world should be, and it isn’t like that. You know what you should be like, and you aren’t. The outcome is that you are constantly disappointed and angry with yourself and with everyone around you.
You talk to yourself in a harsh way, calling yourself names like "useless", "incompetent", "loser" or "lazy". You talk to yourself in ways you would never talk to anyone else.
You assume personal responsibility for something for which you are not responsible.
Step 3
Determine your new realistic thinking

Now that you've identified which unhelpful thought pattern(s) your thought is linked to, think about a more realistic and balanced thought that you can say to yourself instead.

Here are the unhelpful thought patterns you selected in step 2, with questions and examples for each. Read them to help stimulate your thinking on what your own more realistic and helpful thoughts could be instead. Remember, these thoughts must be based on facts.

Write your more realistic and balanced thought(s):

Take a few moments to meditate on your more realistic and balanced thought(s). How do you feel now? Write your emotion(s) in the box below: