Tracking your thoughts after the affair is an important element as you try to control all the negative thoughts that invade your mind.
When trying to make it through each day after the affair, a main culprit that gets in the way is the plague of negative thoughts. The key is being able to control these thoughts.
When trying to control my own thoughts after Doug’s emotional affair, I implemented a process I learned from Dr. Gunzburg’s book that started with tracking my thoughts and moved on to challenging the reality of those thoughts.
This process helped me clear my mind and control what was running through my overly-active brain. It worked for me. If you work hard, it can work for you as well.
Thoughts drive your feelings. When you think about something negative you tend to feel bad. On the other hand, if you think about something positive, you tend to feel good. This is simply common sense.
However, when you are wrapped up in difficult, negative emotions, it isn’t always easy to see what thoughts are behind your painful feelings. When you have been injured in an affair, this is often the case. You are so overcome with feelings of betrayal and rage that you sometimes fail to see what thoughts are behind these feelings.
To make this situation worse, it is sometimes hard to tell one difficult thought from another when you are caught up in a seemingly endless stream of negative thoughts and feelings. Thoughts don’t always happen as single elements. They are often caught up in our fantasies or emotions. As such, they are sometimes hard to see for what they are.
If you feel like you are having a hard time distinguishing your thoughts from your feelings, or even one thought from another, thought tracking can be an immense help to you. Even if you don’t seem to have these kinds of problems, this first step will help you get a good track record of what you are thinking and will allow you the opportunity to see if there are any consistent patterns to your thoughts.
Take one week and track your negative thoughts about the affair. Just as with emotions, it is very difficult to effectively change your thoughts until you take the time to look at them.
Because each affair situation is different, it’s impossible to give you a list of common thoughts people have. Instead try and find out for yourself what common thoughts you are having about the affair.
Get yourself a notebook and every time you have a negative thought about the affair, take note of the following information:
• What time the thought occurred.
• What you were doing when the thought occurred.
• What the thought was.
• How the thought made you feel.
• Whether you acted on the thought in any way.
Be as thorough as you can about this process. Clearly, you won’t be able to record every single thought you have. That’s okay. You don’t need to. But be persistent in your efforts, and they will pay off.
If you find that you are having a flood of thoughts, just note whichever ones you can, and let the rest go. If you can only get a clear picture of one thought, take notes on that one. Do what you can, and don’t do more than that.
After you track your thoughts for a week, take the time to look back over your entries. Take note of a couple of things. First, check and see if there are any traceable patterns in your thinking. For example, do certain thoughts tend to come up at certain times of day or after certain activities? Do you wake up having certain thoughts in the morning or go to bed with them at night?
Secondly, check to see if particular thoughts consistently lead to particular emotional or behavioral responses. For example, you may notice that every time you go into the bedroom you are reminded of the affair, and consequently, you feel like an awful partner. This thought pattern makes you feel worthless.
Researching the way you think after the affair is not a purely academic exercise. Rather, it allows you the foresight to know what you expect to think and feel in certain situations. If you learn your own patterns, you can prepare to challenge their reality and ultimately combat them.