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7 steps to analyze your thoughts!

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

Are you getting stuck in your head? Do you feel like you are replaying thoughts all day long? Do your thoughts tend to spiral out of control? Here are 7 steps you can take to help analyze your thoughts effectively!


We all have thoughts that are uncomfortable, shameful, embarrassing and the list goes on. Sometimes, we can just let the thought go, and other times it feels like the thought is controlling us! When we have thoughts that take ahold of us and will not let go, there is a simple exercise from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that we can use to break the thought down. It is called a thought record! In a thought record, you analyze the thought to see where it might be coming from, what emotions are associated with it, and if there are any traps that we are getting stuck in that are clouding our judgment about the situation.

 

Thought Record

  1. Describe the situation in detail.

  2. List out all of your initial thoughts, and rate how much you believe these thoughts.

  3. List out all of your emotions, and rate the intensity of these emotions.

  4. Check the evidence for and against these thoughts.

  5. Determine if you are getting into any thinking traps.

  6. List out an alternative way of looking at the situation, and rate how much you believe it.

  7. List out any emotions that come from the alternative thought.


 

Example

Describe the situation:

Who: My husband and I

What: Watching T.V.

When: Friday night, this week we have been entertaining people all week and have

not had a chance to be alone together to connect. The kids are finally asleep

after an hour bedtime battle.

Where: In the living room on opposite ends of the couch


My Thoughts:

How can he want to watch T.V. right now when this is the only time we have to connect this whole week? We finally have the house to ourselves and all he wants to do is escape. He does not want to be near me. He must not want to connect with me. He must not want me anymore. He doesn't love me as much as he used to.

I believe these thoughts 70%


My Emotions:

Sad, alone, fearful, resentful, anger, disconnected, undesirable

I feel these emotions at an intensity of 50%


Evidence for my thoughts:

He is not sitting next to me. We are not talking. He did not ask me what I wanted to do tonight. This week was so busy that all we had time for was chit chat as we got ready for bed.


Evidence against the thoughts:

While we were entertaining guests he was sitting / standing with me, and talking with me. Last night when we were at a restaurant, he asked to sit next to me. When we were planning for these people to come to our house, he told me that he was concerned that they were going to be staying too long and that it would be overwhelming for him. I know that he is more introverted than me.


Am I stuck in any thinking traps?

Mind reading, Looking at the negative rather the whole picture, black and white thinking


Alternative way of looking at this situation:

We are both looking to unwind from the week. I know that because he is more introverted than me he might need more space to unwind. If I am feeling disconnected, I can ask him for connection before assuming he does not want it.

I believe this alternative thought 80%


Current emotions:

Sad, fear of rejection, disconnected, hopeful, in control

I feel these emotions at an intensity of 30%



 

Tips and Tricks in using the thought record!

  1. Your emotions are always valid! Use the "evidence for the thoughts" step to validate how you are feeling and understand how you could have gotten to the place you are in now.

  2. We are not challenging our emotions, we are challenging our thoughts and then observing if there were any changes to our emotions.

  3. If you cannot find evidence against and you are not stuck in thinking traps, that probably tells you that you are reading the situation correctly in the first place.


 

Hi, I’m Kristina Anzell, I am a Clinical Social Worker dedicated to providing compassionate and tailored mental health support for moms at all stages of motherhood. My mission is to empower you to thrive in your role as a mother while nurturing your own well-being. If you enjoyed this blog post, check out my blog here! If you want more information or are seeking treatment, feel free to reach out!



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