Struggling with anxiety? If a person feels worried and stressed, they will often reach for food, alcohol, porn, drugs, shopping, or something else to help soothe and calm them. If left unchecked, anxiety can make someone turn to addiction to cope.
But there is a tool called a thought record that can reduce anxiety. A thought record can help people identify automatic negative thoughts and check to see if their thinking falls into one of the many distortions that increase stress, such as catastrophizing. How it works is that a person will write down an alternative balanced thought which states the truth.
For example, let’s say a person thinks that if they try to go to a Life Recovery Group to connect with others, it will be terrible. This would be an example of catastrophizing because they’ve already determined how something will be a disaster beforehand.
Instead of catastrophizing, a balanced thought would be: “When I’ve tried to go to a group in the past, sometimes it hasn’t gone so well. But this time, I will go to at least three meetings and try to connect with at least one person there.”
The value in making sure one’s thinking is balanced is immeasurable because a person’s thinking patterns strongly affect their feelings and actions.
How can one construct a thought record? They can create their thought record by taking a sheet of paper and dividing it into four columns:
- In the first column, write the automatic negative thought.
- In the second column, write the evidence supporting the automatic negative thought.
- In the third column, write the evidence that does not support the automatic negative thought.
- In the fourth column, write a balanced thought to replace it with.
The goal of keeping a thought record is to learn to adjust one’s thinking into a closer alignment with the truth automatically.
Writing and examining anxious thoughts can be very helpful. Often, when someone has anxious thoughts just whirling around in their head, rather than turning to an addictive habit or substance to soothe them, it helps tremendously to get anxious thoughts down on paper.
Finally, as John 8:32 (NKJ) says, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
by Dottie Pickett