I’m often in my head. Whether I’m working, talking to someone, or having my lunch, I’m always occupied with those thoughts that get me worried about everything in my life. “Oh, what if I don’t manage to meet deadlines at work?” “What if the world really comes to an end?” “What if my friends move on with their lives, while I remain in the same place forever?”
But there’s one simple activity that helps me get out of my head. I’d take out my pen and paper or my thought record, and literally just note down all the thoughts inside my head. Generally, in a CBT therapy session, the therapist would usually check-in with his/her patients’ thought record, even before the session has actually started. This is because it’s not always possible for the patients to track all those thoughts that keep them from moving forward, resolving conflicts, and making effective decisions.
Moreover, not every thought is rational. Spending $100 on clothes that I won’t wear anytime soon is not very rational. Yelling back at my boss, just because I was having negative thoughts that day, isn’t very rational either. If you keep track, you’d notice we do so many things that don’t really make sense. But we do it because it’s reliving or rewarding in the moment.
How to Use the Thought Record Worksheet?
Just like we do with our finances, this simple go-to worksheet helps you keep track of your thoughts, without having to replace, eliminate, or judge it. Try to record as many thoughts as you can. Come back later and reflect on the type or frequency of thoughts that kept your mind occupied.
The table’s category section is useful to segregate thoughts from various aspects of life, e.g. work, family, and so on. Further, label each of your thoughts in the feedback section like “hot thoughts” “mean thoughts” “self-blame thoughts” or “get back later to” as per your willingness. Once you’re aware of the category and label that your thoughts hold, you’d be able to process them rationally, seek clarity on your thinking patterns, and make appropriate decisions.
Because You Deserve To Be Gentle With Yourself
Sally George is a Psychologist & the Editor of Gentle Meanings. She shares thought-provoking tools, asks insightful questions, and encourages her readers to be gentle with themselves.