How to Consciously Engage, Inspire, Connect, and Lead: Part 4 (7 Steps)

In How to Consciously Engage, Inspire, Connect, and Lead: Part 3, we addressed the importance of identifying negative feelings and their associated thoughts.  Here, we outline 7 simple steps to completing a Thought Record.

7 Step Process for Thought Record

  1. Identify the Negative Feelings.  Examples are: sad, anxious, angry, guilty, lonely, hopeless, and frustrated.
  2. Rate the negative thought.  Assign it a value on a scale from 1-100 (100 being the top end of negativity).
  3. Record thoughts that cause you the negative feeling.  Circle the thought that has the highest rating; this is called your “hot thought.”
  4. Record evidence for the hot thought.  Recall times that you experienced something negative happening.
  5. Record evidence against the hot thought.  Examine evidence from your own experience that refutes the hot thought.
  6. Combine the truths of the evidence for and evidence against into a balanced thought.  A technique is to add the word “and” after stating the evidence for and the evidence against.
  7. Rate the negative feeling.  Hopefully, your rating has decreased, which empowers you.

Example of Thought Record

Outlined here is an example of a situation that causes anxiety and avoidance of public speaking.  Rochelle feels anxiety about an upcoming opportunity to give a presentation to 60 professionals.  Here is how she completed the thought record.

  1. Feeling:  Anxious
  2. Rating: 70
  3. Hot Thought: I’m going to do poorly when I give this presentation and the audience is going to think poorly of me.
  4. Evidence for: Rochelle recorded the following. I had an experience at a presentation 4 months ago where my partner who I presented with told me they thought I didn’t do a good job at presenting the information; that I was boring, gave too much detail, and lost the audience’s attention.  I also noticed the audience members seemed less interested as I went further into detail.
  5. Evidence Against:  Rochelle recorded the following.  Every member of the audience wrote positive feedback on the survey.  Multiple people verbalized great value from the presentation.  Even though there was a section where I didn’t do as well as I would have liked to, I was open to learning from it and taking constructive criticism.
  6. Balanced Thought: I see where I could have gone into less detail and presented the information in a “short and sweet” format to better engage the audience and I’ll do this for the upcoming presentation.  Overall, the audience got a lot of value from what I presented, and this next audience will too.  I’m open to learning should any feedback indicate I can improve.
  7. Rating: 30

Note that the result of completing the thought record was a reduction in anxiety from 70% to 30%.  Rochelle felt much better and optimistic about the upcoming presentation.  She removed two cognitive distortions, “black and white” thinking and fortune telling, which we’ll discuss later in this series.  It’s your turn to complete your own Thought Record.  It’s time to shift from negative to balanced thoughts.

To you achieving balanced thoughts,



marthaApril 24th, 2014 at 10:25 am

Cher this is a great tool! Thank you for your insight, love this exercise!

Cher GundersonApril 26th, 2014 at 1:55 pm

You’re welcome Martha. I hope it helps with specific thoughts you have that hold you back from authentically expressing yourself. We all experience this challenge and this has been a powerful tool for me and my clients 🙂


Dorothy FitzerApril 30th, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Super well laid out article Cher! You really make these easily usable:)

SangitaApril 30th, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Hi Cher,
I love the 7 steps process for thought record 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

ChristineApril 30th, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Hi Cher,
I had never heard of this before reading your posts about it. You really break it down into a simple yet useful too. Thanks so much!

Cher GundersonApril 30th, 2014 at 7:26 pm

You’re very welcome. It’s been a useful tool for me personally as well as for my clients of course 🙂

Bonnie NussbaumApril 30th, 2014 at 7:33 pm

Hi Cher,

I’ll have to try the process next time I hit a snag.

TeenaApril 30th, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Cher –

I would like to report that I realized while reading your post that I am beginning to feel more excited than anxious when I imagine public speaking WOO HOO!


Cher GundersonApril 30th, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Yea Teena!!!! That’s absolutely awesome! That’s the ultimate goal! Do you have a scheduled presentation soon?

Rock on!

Cher GundersonApril 30th, 2014 at 7:46 pm

Bonnie, it’s one more tool for your toolbox… 🙂

PatriciaApril 30th, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Great exercise Cher! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

KerryApril 30th, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Great exercise! I have a big speaking event tomorrow so anxious to start using your tips!! Nice job!

Tina GamesApril 30th, 2014 at 10:28 pm

This is such a great exercise for my more left-brained clients. It’s linear and practical – which works beautifully for their processing style. ~ Thanks, as always, for offering such great tips! 🙂

Cher GundersonMay 1st, 2014 at 7:11 am

Tina, you’re welcome. Yes, this does work well for people who process linearly.


Cher GundersonMay 1st, 2014 at 7:12 am

Patricia, you’re welcome.


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