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How Changing your Thoughts can be Life Changing

Updated: Oct 20, 2018


Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. Everyone carries a Shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.”

– Carl Jung


There are many benefits to becoming more aware of our own thoughts and emotions, especially when we struggle with anxiety. People who are self-aware are generally more introspective. They tend to evaluate their feelings, are eager to grow personally, and know that understanding themselves is the key to understanding others.  Here are some tips on how to gain more insight into your life.




Journaling

If you have ever snuggled with anxiety - or any type of uncontrollable feelings - someone may have told you at some point to “Start a daily journal. It will help you feel better.” Some people remain skeptical about writing their feelings down and wonder how journaling will help to change anything.  The truth is, journaling is an ancient tradition that dates back to at least 10th century Japan.  According to Psychcentral.com, the act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create and feel. Basically, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you.


Many people think there should be some sort of structure to ‘journaling’ when in fact, the most empowering journal entries I have written have been those without punctuation, awful spelling, and completely personal and honest. I suggest to start journaling today and write as often, or as little, as you can (it doesn’t have to be a ‘legit’ journal from Barnes & Noble either; just pick up a note-book from the dollar store and start writing!).  In a month, go back and reread your past entries.  You may be surprised what you learn about yourself. It is empowering!


Start a Thought/Emotion/Trigger (TET) Record (great for individuals with high anxiety)


So how is this different from journaling? Well think of this as a more in-depth look into your mind when anxious situations arise.  Even doing this once helps you to become more aware of your thoughts versus feelings & helps to identify triggers and what situations may bring out feelings of anger, sadness, worry, jealousy, etc.



Thoughts (T)

Concepts, notions, ideas are your thoughts about the subject or person. Thoughts are based on rules, beliefs, and judgments that we learn from others or personally invent.  They are not necessarily based on fact. 


Emotions/Feelings (E)

There are no good or bad feelings. Feelings are not right or wrong. Feelings just are.   Feelings just exist and need to be expressed in healthy ways. Feelings occur naturally and can manifest in your body as physical reactions as well (energetic, restless, tired, sleepy, & achy).


Feeling words commonly used:

Happy, Mad, Angry, Fearful, Lonely, Hurt, Sad, Glad, Jealous, Scared


Original Sentences with the Thought and a Feeling Added:

  1. I think no one understands me, and I feel sad and fearful about misunderstandings.

  2. I think I am doing more than my co-workers, and I feel devalued. 

  3. I think I am going crazy with all I have to do for work, family, and myself,and I feel stressed and frazzled.

Triggers (T)

Emotional triggers consist of thoughts, feelings, and events that seem to “trigger” an automatic response from us.  The word “trigger” is important here, because the idea is that our reaction occurs automatically.  It might seem as if the emotional reaction is completely involuntary.  The truth is that this reaction, like everything else that we do, is a choice. Learning how to identify our personal emotional triggers is the first step to taking control over how we choose to respond (mindfulnessmuse.com, 2014).  


EXAMPLE: The feeling when someone makes a jokingly-mean comment that might not be a huge deal to another person, but totally destabilizes you for the rest of the day? You feel this way any time someone expresses any disapproval of you. Suddenly, you find yourself feeling off center and thrust into a bout of anxiety, depression, guilt, or shame. 


Take note of any triggers daily and look to see what thoughts and feelings are connected to the situation. 


How to Keep a TET?

Practice, Practice, Practice!

EXAMPLE #1 (worksheet): http://www.therapistaid.com/worksheets/cbt-model-worksheet.pdf

EXAMPLE #2 (article): http://www.wildmind.org/applied/depression/distinguishing-thoughts-and-emotions

EXAMPLE #3 (App for smart phones):


There is also a great app that can help you keep track of your thoughts and feelings called CBT Thought Record Diary.  Get the app here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cbt-thought-record-diary/id1010391170?mt=8


Please leave a comment and let me know if these tools have worked to help you find more balance in your life. Have you attempted to shift your way of thinking, but it hasn't worked for you? Tell me your stories!




Questions? Contact Alison:

Alison Seponara, MS, LPC is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice located in Lafayette Hill, PA. Alison specializes in holistic and mindfulness work with women who struggle with anxiety related to a life transition including #divorce, #motherhood, death of a loved one, relationship struggles, career change, etc. Alison also works closely with children and families with special needs including those who suffer from #Anxiety, #ADHD, & #Autism. Feel free to contact Alison with any questions you may have or if you are interested in a FREE consultation: Call Alison at (610) 952-4169 or send her an e-mail at AlisonSeponaraLPC@gmail.com

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