I’ve been doing this writing exercise off-and-on for the past two weeks and it’s been incredibly helpful- so I’m sharing it.
Like most of the awesome things I find on the internet, I got it from Joy the Baker’s “Let it Be Sunday” post. She linked to this article which outlines the writing exercise. I’m not going to go into the whole thing bc you can read it yourself, but in case you don’t want to go read it yourself, here it is in a nutshell: You make three columns. In the first one, you write down something you’re telling yourself that you suspect might be nightmare-fuel anxiety talking (I label this column “cray cray”- you can do something less judgmental). In the second column, you check your cray cray thoughts against a list of common “cognitive distortions” and identify which ones you’re doing. Then, in the third column, you reframe your crazy talk into something much more rational. Like the article says, it takes about 5 minutes. What’s great though, is that for me, it has a generalizing effect. I find myself checking the crazy talk, identifying cognitive distortions and reframing my thoughts all in my head- no writing supplies needed.
And “cognitive distortions,” in a nutshell, are common thought patterns people get into which are not productive and lead to anxiety/depression/frustration. The ones I’m usually guilty of are black/white or polarized thinking, overgeneralization or my continual parade of shoulds. I’m picturing this now as a parade of people with protest signs that all start with “You should…” like “You should stay off Facebook” and “You should read more” and “You should keep up with the dishes better” and “You should smile more” (I seriously caught myself thinking that this week- like I mansplained my effing self, really????).
The article has a good list of 10 cognitive distortions- but if you google “cognitive distortions,” you’ll find other versions of the list… or bigger lists (do we need any more? I don’t know if the list of 50 is helpful, guys).
Here’s a picture of my journal from just now making myself be okay without having to do “something productive” every single moment of my spring break:
I loovveee how simple it is- and that you can do it any time you have paper, pen and a list of cognitive distortions… Do they make a pocket-chart version of those? Perhaps a cross-stitch sampler pattern? Maybe I’ve finally found my Etsy niche……..