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  • Writer's pictureDr. Randi Gray

Dump List and Color Dump List

Using dump lists as a healthy coping skill and a tool to process through challenging thoughts, emotions, or experiences can be a very manageable and effective practice. Here are the steps to completing a dump list:


Get a piece of paper and something to write with.

  1. Start filling the page with all the chatter in your mind. Everything that you are thinking, saying to yourself, or feeling. This could be individual emotions, negative self-talk messages, or challenges related to different situations.

  2. Once the page is filled and you feel done, get rid of the piece of paper. Crumble, shred, tear, drown, or burn it; you decide how you want to get rid of it.

Examples of things you might right on a dump list could be, I feel anxious, I can’t stop thinking about this, I will never get this right, that person hurt my feelings, I feel so embarrassed, I don’t want to go to that meeting, I can’t stand ____.


There are no wrong answers to what lands on your dump list. It is just all the things causing you stress, anxiety, depression, or frustration, for example. A dump list might be for a single situation or your entire day.


The color dump list follows the exact same steps as listed above for the regular dump list.

1. The only difference is that every sentence, thought, situation, or emotion you would

have written just gets assigned a color, and that color goes onto the paper.

  • For example, I feel anxious…what color could I feel anxious be? Orange. Just the color orange gets scribbled or drawn onto the paper.

  • Next, I don’t want to have that conversation. What color can that sentence be? Green, just the color green, will hit the paper.

  • You will go through all the chatter in your mind, assign it a color, and put that color onto your paper. Your paper will look like a 2-year-old got a hold of your paper when you are done.

2. Then just follow the same steps as above and get rid of your color dump list. Getting

rid of the paper is a very important part of the process, so don’t ever skip that part!


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