Journaling, the SMART Recovery® Way

Posted on November 15, 2011

by Julie Myers, PsyD


Here are some thoughts about “journaling”, the SMART Recovery® way.

Some people enjoy writing down their thoughts in a diary or journal. This can be cathartic, helping a person feel less alone. It may be a wonderful way to express gratitude, love, or to get perspective on one’s life. However, sometimes writing down negative or irrational beliefs can reinforce and strengthen the belief. When the negative thought is there on the paper, in black & white, it may give it more validity and power.

If you find yourself feeling better after you write your thoughts down, you are probably using a good strategy. But, if you feel worse or no better, try this strategy:

Write down your thoughts.

1. Next, assess how you feel. Do you feel angry, sad, or just plain miserable?

2. If you are experiencing a negative emotional reaction, stand back and review the thoughts you just wrote down. Are you using self-defeating beliefs that are illogical, unhelpful, or just plain untrue? Ask yourself if you are using absolute and literal demands, such as “musts”, “should” and exaggerated needs. Are there common thinking errors in your statements, such as blame shifting or rationalizations?

3. Just below your written thoughts, dispute or rewrite your original thoughts (beliefs). Do these make more sense? Are they more logical?

4. Now, assess how you feel again. Did disputing the original thoughts improve your mood? If so, your journaling is helping you to gain control over your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

Happy Journaling!

Reprinted with permission:
Copyright (2011) Julie Myers, PsyD: Psychologist in San Diego. All Rights Reserved

2 thoughts on “Journaling, the SMART Recovery® Way

  1. Debra L.

    I have been journaling for years even before I got clean & sober. I can’t understand most of what I wrote while USING cause I will never be in the MINDSET Again in my life? I will learn from my past writings & correct the things of the past, learn from them, change the future. Make the most of the life that I have left. I won’t dwell on the past cause it’s over & I can’t do anything to change it. BUT, I can help others not to make the same mistakes I have with journaling & sharing my recovery don’t with them.

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