Breaking Down the Situation


How it Works

  1. Begin by clarifying with students the difference between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

    • Thoughts: Your internal summary or prediction about a situation or event. Examples:
      “This is going to be a disaster.”
      “This is going to be great!”
      “Everyone’s going to laugh at me
    •  Feelings: One word summaries of internal emotional states. Examples:
    • Behaviors: Can be both inward (invisible) and outward (observable). Examples: 
      Tensing muscles.
      Skipping class or skipping school.
      Turning down an invitation to a party.
      Jumping off a diving board. 
  2. Next, go through this example with students as a group.
  3. Ask students to come up with an experience that happened to them recently, in which they felt sad, stressed, worried, anxious, etc. Then, reflecting on that situation or event, map out their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors using the Situation worksheet
  4. A follow up discussion can generate more insight about the source of the thoughts, more constructive coping behaviors, etc.


  • Students improve their self-awareness regarding each component of the flowshape; and recognize ways in which their thoughts in particular can impact the rest of the cycle.
  • Students practice connecting situations with the feelings and behaviors they trigger.

Related Exercises