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Journaling to Take Control of Your Thoughts

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Journaling to Take Control of Your Thoughts

by Julie Myers, PsyD, MSCP

Licensed Clinical Psychologist in San Diego;


Here are some thoughts about “journaling”.

Some people enjoy writing down their thoughts in a diary or journal.  This can be cathartic, helping a person feel less alone.  It may be a wonderful way to express gratitude, love, or to get perspective on one’s life.   However, sometimes writing down negative or irrational beliefs can reinforce and strengthen the belief.  When the negative thought is there on the paper, in black & white, it may give it more validity and power.

If you find yourself feeling better after you write your thoughts down, you are probably using a good strategy.  But, if you feel worse or no better, try this strategy:

Write down your thoughts.

  1. Next, assess how you feel.  Do you feel angry, sad, or just plain miserable?
  2. If you are experiencing a negative emotional reaction, stand back and review the thoughts you just wrote down.  Are you using self-defeating beliefs that are illogical, unhelpful, or just plain untrue?  Ask yourself if you are using absolute and literal demands, such as “musts”, “should” and exaggerated needs.  Are there common thinking errors in your statements, such as blaming, catastrophizing, or rationalization?
  3. Just below your written thoughts, dispute or rewrite your original thoughts (beliefs).   Do these make more sense?   Are they more logical?
  4. Now, assess how you feel again.  Did disputing the original thoughts improve your mood?  If so, your journaling is helping you to gain control over your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

Happy Journaling!

Copyright (2011)  Julie Myers, PsyD

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