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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Waking Up from the Trance of Unworthiness


The Self-Compassion Project


I am loving this Sounds True audio/video series on self-acceptance. For those who learn better by reading, here is rough transcript of the session with Tara Brach, Ph.D. I watched on one computer, paused it as I went, and dictated into my phone. I am breaking it into two posts, as it got a little long. You can still listen to this interview online here.

Tara’s first book Radical Acceptance helped me so much on a personal level, and I frequently recommended it to my clients over the years. Her newest book is called True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart. I have already read it once, and I highly recommend it.

In this episode, Tami Simon speaks with Tara Brach, PhD, clinical psychologist and founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington. Tara has been practicing and teaching meditation since 1975 and has led Buddhist…

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Table 2.1. VIA Classification of Character Strengths

1. Wisdom and Knowledge: Cognitive Strengths That Entail the Acquisition and Use of Knowledge

  • Creativity: thinking of novel and productive ways to do things; includes artistic achievement but is not limited to it
  • Curiosity and Interest in the World: taking an interest in all of ongoing experience; finding all subjects and topics fascinating; exploring and discovering
  • Judgment and Critical Thinking: thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to conclusions; being able to change one’s mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly
  • Love of Learning: mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one’s own or formally; obviously related to the strength of curiosity but goes beyond it to describe the tendency to add systematically to what one knows
  • Perspective: being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that make sense to self and to other people

    2. Courage: Emotional Strengths That Involve the Exercise of Will to Accomplish Goals in the Face of Opposition, External or Internal

    • Bravery: not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; speaking up for what is right even if there is opposition; acting on convictions even if unpopular; includes physical bravery but is not limited to it
    • Persistence: finishing what one starts; persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles; “getting it out the door”; taking pleasure in completing tasks
    • Authenticity/Honesty: speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way; being without pretense; taking responsibility for one’s feelings and actions
    • Vitality: approaching life with excitement and energy; not doing things halfway or halfheartedly; living life as an adventure; feeling alive and activated

      3.Love:InterpersonalStrengthsThatInvolve“Tending”and“Befriending”Others(Taylor et al., 2000)

Intimacy: valuing close relations with others, in particular those with whom sharing and caring are reciprocated; being close to people
Kindness: doing favors and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them Social Intelligence: being aware of the motives and feelings of other people and oneself; knowing what to do to fit in to different social situations; knowing what makes other people tick

4. Justice:CivicStrengthsThatUnderlieHealthyCommunityLife

  • Citizenship: working well as member of a group or team; being loyal to the group; doing one’s share
  • Fairness: treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not letting personal feelings bias decisions about others; giving everyone a fair chance
  • Leadership: encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at

    the same time facilitating good relations within the group; organizing group activities and seeing that they happen

  1. Temperance: Strengths That Protect Against Excess
    • Forgiveness/Mercy: forgiving those who have done wrong; giving people a second chance; not being vengeful
    • Humility/Modesty: letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves; not seeking the spotlight; not regarding oneself as more special than one is
    • Prudence: being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted
    • Self-Regulation: regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined; controlling one’s appetites and emotions
  2. Transcendence: Strengths That Forge Connections to the Larger Universe and Provide Meaning
    • Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence: noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience
    • Gratitude: being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks
    • Hope: expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it; believing that a good future is something that can be brought about
    • Humor: liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side; making (not necessarily telling) jokes
    • Spirituality: having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe; knowing where one fits within the larger scheme; having beliefs about the meaning of life that shape conduct and provide comfort