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How Do I Practice Thought Balancing?

When you cope with negative, irrational, anxiety-driven thoughts, your emotions and behaviors might change. You might react negatively to these thoughts. Also, you could fall into self-defeating behaviors like substance abuse or self-harm to appease the thoughts. The healthier action to take is responding. When you respond, you take time to think through your action. One way that you can respond to these kinds of thoughts is thought balancing.

What Is Thought Balancing?

Thought balancing is an accessible tool taught in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that you can use anywhere at almost any time. The idea behind this tool is to take an irrational thought and put it into perspective by contracting it with facts.

How to Thought Balance

When you’re first thought balancing, you might want to record the process on a paper or document. On one side, write down your negative and irrational thoughts. You can do this one at a time or in a batch. Now, look at each thought and think of a fact that contradicts the original thought.

If you cannot write down or record thoughts through notes, you can also use objects as representations of the thoughts. Assign your irrational, negative thought to a marble, coin, or rock. Place this to one side. Then, take another object and assign it a contradictory thought. You can place it opposite the original object. This visual method of thought balancing might work better for some individuals.

Eventually, you may be able to thought balance simply within your mind. It will become more natural the more that you practice it. No matter which method you use, you want to make sure there are equal or more rational thoughts than irrational ones.

3 Examples of Thought Balancing

If you’re struggling to understand the process of thought balancing, these examples can help you better understand the process.

  • Irrational thought: “Everybody hates me.”
  • Balanced thoughts: “My partner told me they loved me yesterday. I have friends I talk to often. My family invites me to events.”

The balanced thoughts don’t necessarily state directly that people don’t hate you. It does, however, bring the irrational thought into question. This act can help you feel more secure in stating the irrational thought as wrong.

  • Irrational thought: “I don’t deserve love.”
  • Balanced thoughts: “Every person deserves love. I am a person. Therefore, I deserve love.”

In this example, values and ideals are used to contradict an irrational thought. By balancing the two, you may come out more certain of what you deserve.

  • Irrational thought: “Vulnerability is weakness.”
  • Balanced thoughts: “I allow others to support me by being vulnerable. It is strong of me to put myself out there. I don’t look down on others for being vulnerable.”

When coping with this idea, you can thought balance in multiple ways. The first thought referenced yourself, the second — an ideal, and the third — others. Depending on the context, one approach might help more than another.

When you live with uncontrollable thoughts, it can feel overwhelming to exist in your brain. You might fall into self-defeating behaviors to cope. However, there are healthier tools for coping. Thought balancing can help you combat your irrational thoughts by challenging them with logic and facts. If you want to learn more tools like thought balancing, The Guest House can help you. We offer multiple modalities of individual therapy as well as group therapy and holistic therapy. You can take control of your mind. Call (855) 483-7800.