Benefits Of A Cognitive Diary

Being an Executive & Life Coach, I look for tools that can support people in their journey or in working their way through their dilemmas. Needless to say, one size does not fit all. However, there is one such tool which I highly recommend for all to follow. It has to do with journaling and a concept called Cognitive Behavior Therapy. I am not a Psychologist so I will not delve into the working or how of CBT but an important part of CBT is about maintaining a diary of your feelings. I also am of the opinion that writing is therapeutic and can do wonders to one’s state of mind. The technique has a lot of depth if practiced correctly with the support of your Coach.
Let me explain this to you in a simple manner.  Most of us react to a situation giving in to our emotions that are triggered by the beliefs that we carry. The reactions on hind sight may then leave us guilty and with a feeling of “Oh My God! Why did I ever behave like that?!” Simple, because we are so engrossed in our own “self talk” that seldom do we realize the consequences of an impulsive reaction. This, by the way, causes us more harm than the person who we are reacting to.
Let me also give you a personal example. I had not been journaling for a while and so I began on the day when I was utterly disappointed with a deal not coming through. We had put in a lot of effort and in my opinion, the prospective client was just “using” us new bees. I had a bit of a verbal tiff on the call and it left me with absolute distaste towards the potential client.
I spoke to my friend who is a trainer and a CBT Practitioner. He suggested I write EXACTLY what I was feeling. I took a paper and pen and began writing everything down. Surprisingly enough, though I had written almost a page and a half, I was not feeling as bad as before! In fact, I felt amused at myself that I could be so featherbrained!!! Sure enough, soon I was laughing at the whole episode, picking up from where we had lost and believe me, the client did call back after a few days promising to work with us in the “near future”.
The point I am trying to make is, we cannot change situations and the complexities that come with it. What we can do is work on what is in our control. A cognitive diary does help in this regard. So what exactly is a Cognitive Diary? It is a way of writing out (read venting out) all that we feel – emotionally, physically and mentally whenever we go through spikes of emotions – a high or a low. I recommend the extreme emotion episodes first and later recommend that it become a habit no matter what your feelings are. Generally used as a therapeutic approach to help solve problems in the area of negative emotions, Cognitive Diary can also be used to help us come closer to our own selves and be more aware of our emotions and our behaviour.
Maintaining a Cognitive Diary is a method to release one’s tensions, trauma and all ill feelings without having to worry about confidentiality or the search for a “trustworthy” friend / confidante. One can begin when one is faced with a challenge that is causing a lot of discomfort mentally and you just “need” to talk to someone. The safest would be to talk to yourself. Write down what you feel and what is bothering you. Do not deny any emotions and see that you clearly write them. If you are short of vocabulary, I have even suggested profanities if it helps!!!
Once you have done that, take a walk and come back. Read what you have written and you will be astonished to note that you no longer harbor the negative feelings that you have so vehemently put it in black and white. It may take a while till you actually feel comfortable doing this. Do not fret, for doing the most uncomfortable thing helps you get comfortable with it! I also advise that once you are feeling better about the episode, you may delete the file you wrote in or shred the paper – basically get rid of it giving you the feeling of “discarding” the unwanted emotion.
There is a second level to use your writing to correct yourself or what we call “regulate” our emotions. This is something that people across use it and benefit from it immensely especially in a work environment. Today we live in the VUCA world (vulnerably, uncertain, complex and ambiguous). The new normal is something all of us are grappling with. Until, the next post where I will share some methods to regulate your feelings in a work set up especially while working in these uncertain times.
Until then, do give the Cognitive Diary a chance. It will help you see slight changes in yourself and will bring you closer to YOU.
If you would like to try a pro bono 60 minute Coaching session, write to us. We can set up session with you in the most confidential manner possible and it will be done either on a video or a voice call.

Brewathought #coachinglessons #CBT #cognitivediary #workplacebehavior #newnormal, #mentalhealth

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