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Tips on being objective when recording what happened

might've read somewhere online that recording your thoughts is effective in improving your mental health because it increases your awareness of yourself, helps you identify scenarios that trigger your thoughts, and helps you make connections between your thoughts and emotions. However, you may not be sure on how to record your thoughts. It's important to record your thoughts as accurately as possible so that you can intervene effectively. Here are the 3 things you need to know to effectively record your thoughts:



1. Know the Difference Between Thoughts and Emotions


Emotions

When recording your emotions, it should be a maximum of 3 words, rather than a sentence. You only write down your feelings.


Scenario:

John gave you a present in a restaurant for landing your first job.


Feeling:

Happy, ecstatic, excited


Thoughts

On the other hand, thoughts are more elaborative and can last between 1-4 sentences. Let's use the same scenario again:


Scenario:

John gave you a present in a restaurant for landing your first job.


Thought:

John is generous and kind. We can be good friends.

 

2. Rate Your Emotional Intensity


You may use a scale from 1-10. Typically, 1 means you are experiencing the emotion mildly while 10 is when you feel the emotions intensely. Knowing the intensity is helpful in thought recording because it allows you to differentiate between mundane versus meaningful scenarios.


Scenario:

John gave you a present in a restaurant for landing your first job.


Feeling:

Happy, ecstatic, excited (8)

 

3. Be Specific with the Context


Date and Time

Writing the date and time is essential because you will see recurring patterns. For example, you may notice that your negative thoughts are more salient at 9:00 pm every Tuesday and Thursday.


Scenario:

Thurs. 9th @ 8:00 pm John gave you a present in a restaurant for landing your first job.


The Situation

Write the specifics of the situation related to the thought. Think about the who, what, where, and why. Every situation you record should answer some of the WH- questions. Here is an example:


Scenario:

John (who) gave you a present (what) in a restaurant (where) for landing your first job (why).

 

About The Author

Jasmine Tsang is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) under the College of Registered Psychotherapist Ontario (CRPO) and the founder of Reflections Therapy. She specializes in providing counselling services for people facing challenges in their adulthood such as relationships, self-esteem issues, school & career stressors, anxiety, and depression. For more information about Jasmine, click here to read her bio.


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