Despite the extra effort, many people have found keeping a thought diary very useful. Here are some things people who practiced using the thought diary said:
“Once I wrote my thoughts down, they somehow didn’t seem as real or powerful anymore. I was able to look at them more objectively and decide whether to believe them. I was actually a bit shocked about what I was telling myself!”
“Writing my thoughts down freed up my mental space and helped me ruminate less. It’s like I didn’t have to hold on to all the worries in my head anymore.”
“I was surprised how much it helped me to better understand myself. Before this, I usually didn’t understand where my waves of anxiety were coming from. Even though it was kind of a pain, the thought diary helped me to feel more in charge. It was definitely worth the effort.”
“Keeping a thought diary was a lot like keeping a personal journal, but in a more structured way. I got to know my patterns better and it gave me ideas about things I could do to change.”
Would you be willing to give the thought diary a try and find out for yourself whether it would benefit you too? Don’t be discouraged if you run into trouble identifying your thoughts or finding time to keep track of them. It isn’t easy to start and takes practice. See Troubleshooting for tips to help you out if you get stuck.
A sample entry in Anjali’s thought diary
Date/Time: Thursday afternoon
Situation (What happened?): Seeing a mother enjoying playing with her baby at the park
Thoughts (What did I say to myself?): What if I won’t be able to enjoy my baby like that? That’ll prove that i’m not cut out to be a mother.
Feeling (0-10) (What am I feeling emotionally?): Anxiety 7/10 | Sad 5/10
Bodily Symptoms (What am I feeling physically?): Sinking feeling in stomach, feeling a headache coming on
Behaviours (What did I do to cope?): Left the park and went home