Cognitive journal refers to the act of writing down your thoughts with the intention of identifying any negative, irrational, distorted or destructive beliefs and perceptions that you may have in your head.
Emotional instability can fog our ability to think clearly and make sound decisions. As a result, we tend to react impulsively without thinking about the consequences of our actions. Cognitive journaling helps you distinguish between reality and distorted perceptions you may have built up. It’s a simple way to process all that is happening in the world and your emotions towards it.
Here’s how to do cognitive journaling the right way:
WEEK 1: Embracing Journaling
Those new to journaling should become familiar with the ABC model which involves breaking down an event into 3 main parts: activating event, belief and the consequences.
The activating event portion involves you writing about an event that occurred in your life that triggered a chain of emotions and thoughts.
After you’ve defined the event, you’ll have to write out your beliefs about the event (thoughts on how it affected you) and the consequences of your feelings.
In the first week of journaling, write down a few sentences about what’s going on in your life using the ABC model.
Don’t attempt to change your thoughts in your first week, just write down your experiences and your feelings.
WEEK 2: Examine Your Beliefs
Continue journaling keeping the ABC model in mind, but now take some time out to examine your beliefs. Do this by writing out each belief and asking yourself if it makes logical sense. Think of how your beliefs are impacting your life, your mental wellbeing, and those around you.
Are your beliefs helping you in any way? Are they making things worse? Will it be better for you to change them and look at things differently?
Also, look out for any thought patterns you may have.
WEEK 3: Challenge Your Beliefs
As you get into week 3 of journaling, you can now take the first steps to change your mindset. In week 3, challenge your beliefs by asking yourself the following questions:
Do my beliefs make logical sense?
Are they based on facts?
Are they practical?
Are they rigid or can they be changed?
Whenever you answer “no” to any of the above questions, you’ll need to further examine your beliefs.
WEEK4: Building Better Beliefs
Once you’ve identified negative beliefs, find other beliefs that are rooted in facts. These beliefs should be flexible, logical, and useful. Use your new beliefs to come up with actionable items that will transform your life for the better.
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