The thought journal

The thought journal is a method recommended as part of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The idea is to write down negative [automatic] thoughts that come into your head and then challenge them through a series of headings as follows:

  1. Situation (what, where, when, who)
  2. Emotion and Intensity (0-100)
  3. Automatic Thought(s)
  4. Evidence For
  5. Evidence Against
  6. Alternative Thought & New Mood Rating

At least that’s what I took from the book I read Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: 7 Ways to Freedom from Anxiety, Depression and Intrusive Thoughts by Lawrence Wallace. The idea is to not only challenge negative thinking but to find patterns and thus deduce what the underlying problem is. I’ve only just started, not even sure if I’m doing it right. Will I find a pattern? Or at least be able to challenge them down the line without needing a notebook?

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Never wake up angry

We’ve been in our house for nearly three months now. Unfortunately our adjoining neighbours aren’t the best, especially the kids. My mam made us three little ornaments for the little flower bed in our front garden. I was antsy about leaving them there, convinced they’d be stolen. For a few days they weren’t touched, except one of the kids walking on the plants my mam had planted to get into their own garden (we don’t yet have gates).

After a night out, we returned home on Saturday night and found one of the ornaments missing. I was devastated. I cried that night and I woke up the next morning furious and yet not able to confront my neighbours. I’ve a fear of being yelled at, mostly because it reduces me to tears. For example, my brother snapped at me on Saturday for giving his six-month-old son a soft biscuit and I had to fight my tears.

Do classes exist where people continuously shout at you until you can handle it? The closest I’ve found is assertiveness classes, which I keep promising myself I’ll do.

In the meantime, I took up the remaining two garden ornaments and put them in the back garden.

Stoicism in the face of rudeness

I’m trying to avoid getting upset or annoyed when someone is rude to me or cuts me off in traffic, but it’s not easy when there are so many people who seem hellbent on making your life miserable. For example, a car driving behind me yesterday nearly collided with a car coming the opposite way in order to overtake me. The other car flashed its lights in a panic because they came so close. He/she couldn’t hang on just a few seconds until the other car passed. And in the end, I wound up ahead of him due to traffic lights. What was the point?

Getting angry at someone else gives them power, and I truly believe that. The best I can do is get annoyed in the moment but try to let it go so I’m not dwelling on it.

How do you deal with rude people?

Challenging my anxious brain

What I hope to gain from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the ability to challenge my negative and anxious thoughts. I’m currently learning a little about it in Rewire your Anxious Brain by Catherine M. Pittman and Elizabeth M. Karle and I get the general idea of it, but I also find it extremely difficult. I’m essentially trying to change thoughts that I’ve had for most of my life.

For example, this morning I couldn’t force myself out of bed an hour early to do my morning pages and meditation. I gave in to the temptation of going back to sleep. For the entire month of January, I never missed my morning ritual. In my bullet journal habit tracker, they’re both full lines of colour (I mark them with colourful squiggles). Now the first of this month will be blank, my perfect streak broken for not one but two habits. I really did try and am still trying to challenge my thoughts by telling myself it’s an opportunity to see if I can break my record of 31 days. But that voice in my head tells me otherwise, reminding me of how I failed and that I can’t justify being so lazy.

Perhaps I need to go to bed a little earlier to ensure I’m not so tired in the morning. Right now, I go to bed at 10.30pm but it takes me a little while from that point to fall asleep. A new habit I developed last month was putting away my phone and tablet at least half an hour before bed. I just worry I’ll miss an important text from my parents if I put it away any sooner. Putting it away at 9.30pm might be doable, but if I must go to bed earlier, at say 10.00pm, putting it away at 9.00pm will be a struggle.

Do I need to be tougher on my thoughts? Would writing it down help? I’m hoping this will become clear once I find a good Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, but I don’t want to suffer until then.