The perils of MUSTERBATION (‘demand thinking’)


Veronica Walsh's CBT Blog Dublin, Ireland


Do you suffer from musterbation?

Is it always ‘must‘ and ‘should‘ and ‘ought‘ with you? This is a phrase coined by the renowned father of CBT, Albert Ellis.

Musty thinking is a classic recipe for general anxiety and unhappiness. In psychotherapy it is also known as inflexible ‘DEMAND THINKING’, and ‘RULES FOR LIVING’.

Let’s take a look at what it is, and how we can neutralise it with healthy realistic ‘preference’ thinking instead, so that you can feel cooler much more of the time, and so that you will have better communication skills with others….

The Ellis idea is that we have distorted thinking about:

  • How *I* am: e.g. I MUST do well and be treated with respect, or it is AWFUL and I can’t bear it.
  • How *you* are: e.g. You MUST be kind and respectful and considerate toward me…

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A Thought Replacement Exercise – a CBT worksheet/handout


Veronica Walsh's CBT Blog Dublin, Ireland

drawbrainmechanicsChanging your thinking with cognitive behavioral therapy..

A simple exercise to challenge your negative automatic thinking, and replace with healthy alternative thinking…..


Catch the negative thought
: Keep a journal, taking notes of the actual thoughts you are thinking when you’re in a situation that upsets you and ends in self-limiting and self-sabotaging behaviour. Example: ‘It’s going to be awful, I’m going to embarrass myself…’- (and then avoiding an event).


Thought Stopping: As you notice yourself saying these negative automatic thoughts, you can stop them mid-stream by saying to yourself “STOP”.  You might also wear a rubber band or elastic bracelet around your wrist, giving it a little twang each time you notice you are allowing negative thinking to take over your head in a never-ending loop. It will make you more aware of how often, and in what situation, you are having the…

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