|Posted on 10 October, 2016 at 5:30|
Write it down: Recognise. Reinforce. Remind.
Many, in and out of therapy, are quite familiar with the idea and instruction of writing things down. Write things down so you can remember them. Write down your maladaptive thoughts - so you can view them more objectively and mindfully... Write down what you are grateful for - so you may develop more positivity and a more optimistic outlook...
At certain intervals in therapy, it is also very helpful to write down what is working and, especially, what you are doing well. This serves several purposes. Firstly, it helps you recognise and acknowledge the work you are contributing towards change.
For example, a courageous client, after a number of sessions, reflected that her anxiety had relaxed and she was feeling more content; however was perplexed as to how come this shift had occurred and pondered perhaps time was the main factor. Over the course of that session, I noted numerous things that she was doing well – and differently, compared to before treatment, as she discussed recent happenings. Towards the end of the appointment, I recounted those things back to her; recognising that her improved position was mostly due to her hard work, rather than just time (or magic). I encouraged her to later write down what she noticed she was doing well and/or differently, with regards to thinking, reacting, behaving…etc. so that she could again acknowledge what she was doing well to contribute to positive change.
Writing down what you are doing well and what’s working for you, also helps reinforce exactly those things. As you write them down, you are purposefully thinking about them and further contributing to those lovely new neural networks being formed and solidified.
Finally, writing these things down, allows you to go back and remind yourself of what worked. Re-reading provides further reinforcement, however perhaps more importantly, helps you identify if you are continuing to do things that are helpful – and get back on track if you’ve let go of anything that contributed towards positive change previously.
Initially, write those things down somewhere that they will be seen often, such as in your working diary, on a post-it on your bathroom mirror, or take a photo of your list and use it as your screen saver... Then after awhile of feeling well and more confident, you can refer back to that list occasionally (perhaps write a reminder or alert in your calendar a month or so down the track to check that list).