I know I've shared this before, but it is truly the foundation of my practice as a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist. This is a process called “looping,” and it was taught to me by a mentor almost two decades ago. I use it daily for decisions large and small, and I will, of course, explain it fully in a regular session.
This technique is effective with almost anything - big things, little things, all kinds of things. The only place it really won’t work is to decide things for other people. For example, “I want my boss to be nicer to me,” nope – I want someone to give me a pony, that hasn’t happened yet either. However, “I want to be more focused at work” is a great place to start a loop. I'll explain it with an easy example, then we can work through something more relevant to your own needs. Hang on, it's kind of a lot.
The Loop really works to inform our choices - and anger vs sadness vs happiness are choices, even when they don't seem that way.
What do I want? This needs to be quantifiable and about YOU or in YOUR control.
What am I doing? This isn't "what do I think I "should" do, or what am I doing in general, it is "what are you doing that relates to the thing you just said you wanted (or not)"
“Is it working?” (not "do I like this" but "is this action leading to what I just said I want")
“What's the plan?” (usually this is changing what you are doing or changing what you want)
It is infinite, you can start anywhere, end anywhere, and go around as many times as it takes.
What do I Want - I'm hungry. I want dinner.
What am I Doing - Watching TV.
Is that Working? - (does what I am doing lead back to what I just said I wanted) ... Not really
Plan - (this is where it branches off)
a) change what I'm doing - Get off my butt and go make dinner/order Grubhub/otherwise cause food to appear
OR b) change what I want - I am enjoying this show and want to watch to the end. This creates a new loop -
I Want - to watch tv
I am Doing - watching tv
Is it Working - yes
Plan - I will watch this episode, then NOT binge into the next one, but after this one go make my dinner.
Obviously, that is a very basic example.