CBT and how to use it for daily Mindfulness and help others

Excellent service from MoodyGym on practicable Cognitive Behavioral Techniques to help the depressed and moody and light them up…

What you think is what you feel

Events lead to Thoughts which lead to Feelings which lead to Behaviors.
When events happen in life, we develop thoughts and feelings about those events, which affect our behavior.

10 types of warped thinking

Type of error + Hints for contesting the error


  • Is it really all or none?
  • Just because there is one problem does it mean that everything had been ruined?
  • Are there any positive outcomes?
  • What is the evidence that everything is wrecked?

  • One error does not mean multiple errors.
  • Can you learn to improve so that it won’t happen again?
  • Does it really mean you have these characteristics all the time?

  • Is this part that you are focusing on the real full picture? Have you misinterpreted the big picture?

  • What is the evidence that the positive comment can be dismissed so readily?

  • Have I any evidence from which to derive this conclusion?
  • Do I know what that person is thinking?
  • Do I have any real evidence of what will happen in the future?

  • Is the problem so big?
  • Have I not appreciated my achievements?

  • Just because I feel sad/anxious/upset/miserable doesn’t mean I am in reality a miserable, emotionally inadequate person.
  • Do I really need to feel so miserable about this event? Is it really worthy of my feelings of misery?

  • Why should it be like that? It might be easier if it was that way, but it doesn’t mean that it should/must/ought to be like that.

  • Is that a truly accurate name for that event, that person, for me?

  • Am I really responsible for that?

The seven areas of personal vulnerability?

What are your particular problem areas. (if any) and do you need to build up your unwarping skills in these areas?

What sort of areas are you vulnerable in?

The most common areas are:

  • The need for approval (you are very sensitive to criticism and the good opinions of others, you feel the need to keep others happy).
  • The need to be loved (you feel happiest when others approve and love you, without it you feel worthless and rejected, if someone you like doesn’t like you, you feel unlovable).
  • The need to succeed (you feel you must be outstanding in one area at least, you feel inferior and a failure if you do not succeed).
  • The need to be perfect (if it can’t be done perfectly, then there is no point in doing it at all, falling short of perfection is pathetic and a C (even B) grade is unacceptable).
  • The sense of feeling deserving (if you can’t get what you are entitled to, then it’s not fair, it’s unjust, unreasonable and frustrating; if you are kind and thoughtful then others should be kind back).
  • The sense of being able to influence all things (if something happens, somebody gets upset then it is your fault and you are responsible).
  • The sense that happiness is contingent upon external things (you feel you have no control over your emotions, your feelings, that happiness is dependent on external factors).

Being nice to yourself for a change

The first exercise to improve self-esteem involves trying to treat yourself the way that you would a friend.

  • Every day in the next week spend 10 minutes doing something that you like to do.

    This means indulging yourself, spending time alone, if you like doing that, with music, etc. (Need ideas?) Develop a list of potential events which you enjoy doing.

  • Spend 5 minutes everyday being as nice to yourself as you would to a friend who has problems with their self-esteem.

    For example, if you react badly to a situation, don’t say to yourself "you worthless worm", say "it’s pretty normal to react that way, you are being hard on yourself. I think you handled the situation as best you could", etc.

  • The Unwarping

  • To identify some methods to attack your warped thoughts that don’t involve mentally contesting the warp by ‘straight talking’.
  • To look at the areas of personal vulnerability in greater detail.
  • To work on your self-esteem some more. The first aim is to use other methods than straight talking or personal dialogue to contest those warpy thoughts. Why use other methods than straight talking?

  • The alternative methods for contesting warpy thoughts will include:

  • Taking the role of the reporter (turning Clark Kent into Superman)  :
    Consider taking the role of a reporter describing the events that you get upset by. This will allow you to step back from your deep involvement and automatic responses and allow you to distinguish observations from interpretations.
  • Increasing positive self-interpretations: 
    This technique will also help your self-esteem. People vulnerable to depression and anxiety often tell themselves negative things: You might be used to telling yourself how pathetic, miserable and under-deserving you are. In this exercise, it’s time to reverse it and credit yourself with some positive statements to replace all those negative ones! Replace the negative attributes that you seem to ruminate (think constantly) about with positive attributes that you might have.
  • Setting up experiments to test thoughts and interpretations:
    During the week find an occasion when you get overly upset. Write down the event and your interpretation of it in your workbook. Also take note of your consequent behavior. Then go around and ask others how they would feel about such a situation, and about their reactions to it. Sample at least 3 people for this event. Compare your interpretation of the event with others that they come up with and enter this in your workbook.
  • Doing "Let’s Experiment": 
    The main idea is to attempt to test whether your thoughts or views are straight or warpy by changing your behavior. Act in direct contradiction to the feelings you have. (But take warning…You need to preserve social norms…Don’t do any crackpot things, and don’t do anything inconsiderate to others).
  • Talking yourself out of warped thoughts (being your own coach): 
    Say positive and affirmative statements by yourself
  • Doing "Mental Biofeedback":
    For this technique you’ll need to either purchase a wrist counter or keep a pocket notebook.Monitor your negative and warpy thoughts by clicking the dial of the wrist counter every time you notice a negative thought. Otherwise, keep the little pocket notebook handy and tabulate the number of negative thoughts and feelings you have during the day.

    The central key to overcoming and preventing negative emotions is to challenge and contest your warped thoughts or your warped thinking habits. There are two questions to ask yourself if you find you can’t identify the type of warped thought or you are not sure what content to work on.

These questions are: What is the evidence? What are the alternatives?


Zen Story

Light and Shadow

Walter Norwick liked to tell his Zen Students The Tale of New Year’s Eve party where a knock came at the front door and the attendees opened it to admit their guest of honor: Fortune, dressed in all his finery. After all the celebration had died down, however, someone heard a faint scratching sound from the back door. They opened it and a scrawny, filthy creature entered the room, brining the festivities to a  standstill.
whoa re you someone finally asked.
”Misfortune”, croaked the creature, then pointed at the guest of honor, “Where he goes, I follow”.


No matter how far out on the sea of suffering we’ve sailed, all that is required is to turn toward awakening. It’s never too late, but it takes that turning, and no one can do that for us.

What is Zen

As flying is the essential thing for a bird to be a bird, to study the self is the essential thing for us human beings to be human. A human being is a living being that needs to study the self to become the self.

Burn Your Portfolio

The stuff they don’t teach you in design school, but should by Michael Janda – was a fun read and these are the ones which excited me to capture and note it here.

Human Engineering – Behavior, work ethic, and social prowess have as much to do with your success as your ability to beat Photoshop senselessly into submission

  • Your friends will willingly and freely market your business, so it would serve you well to make a lot of friends – hence network
    • Gripes go up – stay +ve amidst frustrations, hunker down & complete rather waste tie complaining, solve the root of –ves (upgrade a computer, RAM)
    • You don’t have to be the art director, creative director, CTO, or VP of Blah-De-Blah agency to be a key member of a company
    • Just keep asking questions what can be improved on every possible front – within & outside your role
    • Lead or be led – it’s imperative to figure out what you don’t know and take necessary steps to learn it, no matter what it is and what it requires of you
    • What are you doing with your down time? Where do you want your career to go? What are you teaching yourself to help get there?
    • Toot your own horn
    • A companywide ‘Expose Yourself Friday’ meeting can give air-time for all employees to show cool stuff they’re doing
  • Art Smarts – The best designers take “luck” out of the equation,. Smart processes, strategies, and techniques will help you create a masterpiece every time
    • The difference between good design and great design is paying attention to details
    • Follow Shock & Awe Principle: Achieving Rapid Dominance – US department of defenses
    • Near total or absolute knowledge and understanding of self, adversary, and environment
    • Rapidity and timeliness in application
    • Operational brilliance in execution’
    • Near total control and signature management of the entire operational environment
  • Art is meant to be framed – if you buy an Apple product, notice the packaging details that went into it – Presentation is All that Matters
    • The faster you work, the more money you make
    • There are many ways to skin a cat, there is really only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time
    • Break down tasks, assign time and resource and track the progress
    • Bring out your dead – do postmortems for every project at the end
    • What we did right?
    • What we did wrong?
    • What we will change?
    • Brainstorms are 90% bad ideas – this point will keep your ego in check while the chaff that is bad ideas is separated from the golden wheat that is the next great idea
  • Two Ears and one Mouth _ sometimes a creative professional will actually have to take off their headphones and interact with another human being
    • Taking time to talk to people face to face is a dying art
    • Red Flags and Extinguishers – detail client situation & have responses handy
    • The ultimate email formula
    • Have response email templates for various situations
    • Avoid email black holes
    • Avoid W.W.W – Never make your customer Wait, Worry, and Wonder.
  • Happy Head Honchos – Everyone has to answer to someone. It might be a boss, a client or your mom. Learning how to handle superiors tactfully will open the doors to success
    • Designers are from Mars and clients are from Venus
    • People buy relationships, People buy stress relief, People buy goo deals
    • Let your client be a 800-pound Gorilla
    • When you speak so it without elitist, arrogant, or demeaning front. Hear them out
    • Do your Genealogy study – find the contacts’ contacts to get more business
    • Odd behavior at the start of the project is almost always going to yield more odd behavior during and at the end of the project
    • Judge early and storm out if possible
    • Don’t be a desperate girlfriend in seeking clients for projects – a gentle reminder periodically not to annoy but to remind
    • How to ask for a raise without asking for a raise
    • After few pleasantries and you attitude towards work in the current site, start off by saying: I’m working hard. I wanted to talk with you for a minute and et you know that I view myself being here long-term and I was wondering what steps should taking to be able to earn future raises and promotions. I’m not asking for a raise now; I want to make sure I earn it and what are the things you’re looking for out of me to deserve one?
  • Minding Your Business – Working as a designer without any business training is like jumping from an airplane without parachute training. Something bad is going to happen
    • Do what you love; The money will follow
    • Money could never replace the joy of making a living doing something that seems like the hobby you always dreamed of doing
    • If you want to win the game, you have to know the score
    • Track all receivables and payments
    • There is no such thing as a “Meet and Greet”
    • Every meeting, every interaction, every time you have an audience, you should be prepared to present what makes you and/or your company so awesome
    • Whatever you do, never ever do undocumented work….never, never, never

Disproportionate Advantage and how to exercise it?

When there’s a disproportionate advantage, it’s meant to be exploited and that’s usual. If you happen to be a hapless victim to that orgy, what’s will be your response? It depends on the level of loss incurred – emotional, financial, etc. What happened to me was financial and travel stress running around that resulted in a rational reflection and this digression. My entire Saturday (11th Jan 2014) was spent running from pillar to pillar in the belief that it would save me some but in the end victimized by smartness, luck and skillful advantage – what others have over you in certain areas. My laptop, a overwhelmed workhorse of yesteryears – ASUS F8Va model bought then for $2500 (about 5 years ago), still dutifully performing to its fullest potential had a fatal fall when I unskillfully transferred it from my left shoulder to both the shoulders to even out the monstrous weight – I’m yearning for my ultralight!! That’s where my skill let me down and the laptop on that unfortunate Wed 8th Jan night after alighting from Aileen’s car walking through the Yishun garden towards my adobe of stay. I intuitively knew it would have suffered. My inkling came true as I lighted it up and it complained with blurred lines and wore a pixelated demeanor. A sore to my sight and productivity, for next 2 days, managed with an extra monitor and enquired about fixing it with the local computer dealer. He said he’ll test and replace it for $160 but had to leave it overnight. I was apprehensive to leaving it alone as it was full of data nothing indecent nonetheless still priceless. I said I’ll lay it with him on Fri afternoon but managed to be there only on the evening and the guy there (whom I struck a deal) was absent and had to deal with his colleague and he promptly changed it to another display panel – which I supposed to be an exact equivalent. I was happy, after duly paying, returned home. Took a breather and started work. To my disillusionment, the display panel was dimly lit and icons were bigger and suddenly it hit me that I should check the resolution – oh…I’ve been downgraded. I promptly reached out to the guy and said I want a similar resolution panel (1440 x 900) and not a lower one (1280 x 760). I said I’ll limp back on Sat to get it done. Already dissatisfied with the service and further amped up by my friend that this kind of laptop is an outdated model and it’s good to check with the model maker ASUS on the availability and serviceability as a first step. With this advice, I set in motion to 1st fire a call to the hotline on Sat morning to be nicely asked to go to service center in person as she (the person in call) can’t really find out the status – I think they are in manufacturing and servicing aircraft parts!! – so damn difficult to locate erstwhile parts. Being an unfortunate chap, I turned up at the service center only to find that this part (a WXGA+ display LCD screen) is not available anymore and even servicing will not be done. I cursed the half/shelf life of modern laptops – I think we should all eventually lead to a display piece with all of the processing done in cloud to mitigate this never ending technology improvisation cycle. From here I proceeded to check out my luck in Sim Lim, the legendary hardware haven of Singapore. My luck greeted with a shop having an exact model and with a verbal confirmation that the screen is perfect and he can change it. I was worried of the exiting panel being changed elsewhere, so I went for a bargain of $60 (from $80) to do the replacement myself – essentially get it done at my old place. I took the train all the way from Sim Lim to Yishun with the assumption that I had struck gold – going to get it done for $90. When the original guy (whom I struck a deal earlier) started to change for me and this time luck was aggressive in ditching me, the panel was even worse. So in the melee of disappointment, I exhorted the local dealer to get whatever it gets to fix this ASAP – by getting a higher resolution panel. He promptly said he’ll talk to his contact and get it fixed by tomorrow and that I can pick it up Sun noon. Soon I called the Sim Lim dealer about the display panel problem and had to make round another trip to return the laptop with faulty panel and get my $60 and $100 deposit back. This to and fro trip dearly brought severe pain to my knees of incessant walking, climbing, standing in train and stress due to travel. After coming to my dwelling place, took a breather and proceeded to library to return around 9:30 pm and checked into the shop to enquire whether his contact has comeback on new panel. To my shock, he said it’s already done and demanded the extra $30 to my already paid $160. I became suspicious and demanded to see the old panel to which he said it has been disposed already. Well I knew, he has simply cleaned/did something to my old panel and has reinstalled it again to get me the resolution I was looking for. I was pissed and I neither wanted to enter into tirade session nor quarrel. I was in need of my laptop dearly to go about my work on Sun and the following week. I was cheated high and low, left and right.

My reflection, fact followed by action I took:

  1. I had less knowledge to confront and the opposite party exploited his disproportionate advantage
  2. It is tantamount to unethical business
  3. I had a relationship to maintain wherein in future if I need any urgent computer repair this is only one down the block
  4. I decided not to pursue on this matter further even though I was defrauded to the tune of $150 (against my total cost $190)
  5. Perhaps I had a previous life debt with this person and paying back that debt
  6. For the amount of physical, travel and financial distress – I had to forgive and move on
  7. What most people do in the case of back-stabbing is to curse – but I refrained from that too – thanks to my mindful training from lots of books I had been reading then
  8. In future I’d reserve my options and will weigh on the time/cost factor to do business with this person again.

The lesson of the day, it’s ok to have a disproportionate advantage but never exploit it but increase the volume to achieve your ends – you tread rational lines instead unethical. Every dime you earn ethically deserves great respect and to be shunned from being spent that involves unethical profiteering. Do unto others what you want others to do unto you. Here the other person dearly exploited but I reserved my reaction – that’s being mindful and never become a victim again.