Module 10: Recognising and Dealing with Feelings

How you feel can influence your thinking and behavior.

Our thoughts, feelings and behavior are all linked:

An example: If you hear a loud bang in the middle of the night, what do you think it would be? How would you react? If you have a dog you might thing something has been knocked over, feel annoyed but turn over and go back to sleep, if you live alone you might think it was a burglar, feel scared and call the Police. It is your thoughts that have affected how you feel and react in that situation.

This includes how you feel about yourself-(your self-esteem); how you feel about your situation and your feelings towards other people.  For example an individual who feels powerless may lose motivation and believe that there is no point in trying, as he will not succeed. He may withdraw and isolate himself. Similarly an individual who ruminates on problems and focuses on negatives is unlikely to see the positives in other people or situations and this can increase his feelings of isolation.

What is positive and negative thinking?

If you are unsure of negative and positive thinking (otherwise known as self-talk) then please work through our self-talk section.

Positive thinking encourages healthy behaviour. 

Negative thinking comprises thoughts in which you see the worst in everything. It reduces your expectations by expecting the worst.  Negative thinking tends to manifest itself in patterns of behaviour which are characterized by stress, worry, anxiety and frustration.

Exercise 2 – Your negative thoughts

Write down a list of your most common negative thoughts.

With each of these, identify the associated feeling.

Now list your behaviour that resulted from the thoughts. 

Here is an example:

Thought- ‘what’s the point?’
Feeling - hopelessness
Behaviour - give up trying   


Once you have done this, identify how negative thoughts and feelings could contribute to the decision to view sexual images of children.

An example of this might be:

Thought – I am never going to have a sexual relationship
Feeling – frustration/loneliness
Behaviour – access sexual images of children


Negative thinking is often triggered by thinking errors which fall into three main categories:

  • Catastrophising/Awfulising - making things seem worse that they really are, getting things out of proportion
  • Generalising - taking one occurrence and thinking it will always apply e.g. believing you will never pass your driving test because you failed the first time
  • Negative focus - always focusing on the negative aspects of a situation rather than looking at the positives e.g. rather than be pleased about passing an exam, being upset that you did not get a higher grade.


Spend some time reflecting on your thinking errors. If you need additional information on what these are then there is a downloadable sheet which has been created by Psychology Tools (


If you need help to change negative thinking into positive thinking then complete our self-help module on Self-Talk.



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