Analyzing Your Approach
Tracking your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs helps you feel in control. It lets you understand why you are having negative thoughts. If you keep a record of your emotions, you can use it to gauge how successfully you are changing your attitude.
Catching the thought
The most fundamental elements to track are your thoughts. If you find yourself feeling negative, take a few moments to relax, then register what comes into your head, and gather information about the way your mind is working. Take a mental snapshot of your thoughts.What pictures are you visualizing? What sounds are you hearing? What words are you saying to yourself? What memories of the past or fantasies of the future come to mind? Express your thought in one short sentence, such as “I will never get this right” or “I am really annoyed with him.”
Auditing your beliefs
To identify the beliefs that underlie your thoughts, learn to notice which negative thoughts crop up again and again. When you have a clear sense of that pattern, ask yourself, “What does this thought mean about me?” Answer with the words, “It means….” Then keep asking what your answer means about you, until you reach an absolute statement, such as, “I am weak,” “People are untrustworthy,” or “The world is a nasty place.” Such definitive statements are your core beliefs about yourself and the world; identifying them enables you to challenge them.
Keeping a Daily Thought Diary
To understand how your thoughts affect your moods, create a “thought diary” in which you keep a written account of your approach to life. In a notebook, write down each thought, with the circumstances that gave rise to it. Next, think about the effect that the thought had on you and write this down too. Look back over this diary at the end of each day, to analyze whether your thoughts and feelings triggered helpful or unhelpful actions. If you reread the diary once a week, you can use the entries to trace your thought patterns, gauge how successfully you are making improvements, and spot where you need to make an extra effort.