Behavioral Experiments

In cognitive behavioral therapy, behavioral experiments are designed to test thoughts. For example, you might do a behavioral experiment to test the thought, “If I criticize myself after overeating, I’ll overeat less,” vs. “If I talk to myself kindly after overeating, I’ll overeat less.”

To do this, you would try each approach on different occasions and monitor your subsequent eating habits. This would give you objective feedback about whether self-criticism or self-kindness was more effective in reducing future overeating.

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This type of behavioral experiment might also help counteract a (related) thought like, “If I’m kind to myself, it’s like giving myself a free pass to overeat and I’ll lose all self-control.”