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  1. Carrying on from part 1- http://www.shiachat.com/forum/blogs/entry/311-understanding-negative-thought-processes/ I wanted to speak about the impact cognitive distortions (negative thoughts) can have on us. The impact of Cognitive Distortions Psychologists recognise that there is a relationship between our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and the resultant behaviour. Anyone recognise this vicious cycle? We are constantly trying to interpret the world around us, sometimes without even realising it. Thoughts are electro-impulses in the brain, not statment of facts, so dont believe everything you think! These interpretations will be a byproduct of our upbringing, previous experiences, culture, religion and many more and some types of thoughts can lead to particular emotions. Therefore, we shouldn't ASSUME everything because you will make an ASS out of U and ME! The above is typical of the cycle that takes place once we get a negative thought that we may dwell on. It, then, becomes a habit, so trying to change that thought to a more realistic and balanced one would be beneficial. The question that arises now is how we can achieve that. Journalising your thought processes One such way to change our negative thinking style may be documenting your thoughts which is something people find helpful in this regard, as it’s a way of becoming familiar with the negative thought patterns you tend to become fixated on, and is one method of letting out how you feel. Having a thought diary can be very helpful for many people and can actually be effective for so many conditions, such as feeling socially anxious, OCD, GAD (generalised anxiety disorder), depression and many more mental health problems. You can also add columns where you rate your anxiety/mood from 0%-100%, you would then reframe (change) that negative thought to a more balanced one and rate your anxiety/mood again from 0% -100% to see how much it has decreased. Thought records like the one below can also be helpful and are less overwhelming if you don’t want to add lots of columns. Another less intense journaling technique is keeping a gratitude journal. The process is quite simple. Every night, before you go to bed, you write down three to five things for which you are grateful. The trick is that you can’t use the same ideas every day, so you can try to search your soul for what you are grateful for today and then write it down. If you feel a thought diary is not something that works for you, then think about what might. Using art as a form of art therapy such as colouring, painting or Caligraphy? Audio recording yourself or speaking to yourself in the mirror? (I know this sounds totally weird but it works for some! No one has to know :p ) Or how about using mind maps? The main thing is finding what works for you as an individual. Hope this helps! Inshallah in the next part I will be focusing on how to set and achieve goals. “I only complain of my grief and sorrow to Allah (s.w.t)” [12:86]
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