The Thought Download (TDL): Separating Facts from Thoughts

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Writing down your thoughts on a daily basis has really helped me over the past year. Brooke Castillo calls this a thought download (TDL) where you write down the jumble of thoughts running around in your brain. I spend 5-15 minutes doing this in the morning while I drink coffee but you can do it any time of day. Some people find it helpful to do this at night.

How is it helpful?

  • Allows you to get all your fears and anxiety on paper 
  • Recognize how negative or repetitive some of your thoughts are
  • Helps you realize that yesterday is in the past and you can choose to focus on today
  • Creates space for new thoughts
  • Gets out all the squirrel or stray thoughts and helps you to get focused on the day
  • Helps you recognize that you are not your thoughts and how many of these thoughts are just playing in the background

Once you write them down ask yourself:

  • What am I making these thoughts mean?
  • Try not to judge your thoughts, just get it on paper

Separating Facts from Thoughts

Facts are things or people we cannot control. They are neutral and something everyone would agree on in a court of law. Facts include our past, what someone said exactly, what we ate or drank, etc.

Thoughts are just sentences in our brain. Most people think their thoughts or beliefs are facts. We get into trouble when we try to change our situations or facts instead of changing our thoughts. Our primitive brains are programmed to think repetitive thoughts. Often beliefs are based on misinterpretation of past experiences.

Once you have done a TDL, look over what you have written and separate out facts from thoughts. This is eye opening. Then pick one thought to focus on. Question why you think a certain way about something, be curious. The story we tell ourselves is optional. What if it is not true? Is this thought serving you in your life? If not, what could. you think instead?

The goal is to create awareness of our thinking. TDL’s help you to become the curious observer of your thoughts. We do not have to believe our negative thoughts. What do you need to think to get to your goal? Wherever you are at with your goal right now is completely neutral. You can choose what to think about it. Whatever you are thinking, be compassionate with yourself. You won’t get to your goal any faster by beating yourself up.

For example, “I have too much to do” is a thought and very common this time of year. This thought is optional and not very helpful. Ask your brain what is another thought to think that will spur you into action? How about “I have plenty of time to do everything I need to get done.”

If you weight is staying the same (the number on the scale is a neutral fact), your thought might be “I should be at my goal weight by now”. This is a poison thought and probably makes you feel awful which may cause you to go off your eating plan. A better thought would be “I am willing to do what it takes to lose the last 10 lbs or to get to my goal weight”.

What would you be thinking if you were already at your goal weight?

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