Exchange Vocabulary

Upset feelings are usually caused by the way we are thinking about what is happening, not the events themselves. To change your feelings (and your behavior), try the following “Exchange Vocabulary.”

This idea was given to me by a client, who related it to an exchange list for unhealthy foods. When you first try this new way of thinking, it might not feel right. The more you do it, however, the more natural these realistic beliefs will become.

I think you will like the results, but prove it for yourself by giving it a fair try. Good luck.

© Robert F. Sarmiento, Ph.D. Used here with permission.

Word Exchange Table

Instead of thinking: Try thinking:
Must Prefer
Should Choose To
Have To Want
Can’t Choose Not To
Ought Had Better
All Many
Always Often
Can’t Stand Don’t Like
Awful Highly Undesirable
Bad Person Bad Behaviour
I am a Failure I Failed At



Instead of Saying: Exchange With:
I have to do well. I want to do well.
You shouldn’t do that. I prefer you not do that.
You never help me. You rarely help me.
I can’t stand my job. I don’t like my job.
You are a bad boy. That behaviour is undesirable.
I’m a loser. I failed at this one task.
I need love. I want love, but don’t need it.


Emotional Vocabulary Exchange

REBT does not endeavour to eliminate emotions. Quite to the contrary! Emotions are very useful and part of the human advantage — When Appropriate!

Instead of Saying: Exchange With:
Anxious Concerned
Depressed Sad
Angry Annoyed
Guilt Remorse
Shame Regret
Hurt Disappointed
Jealous Concern for my relationship



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