Peeling the Onion Self-Exploration Technique

Peeling the onion” is a technique for exploring problematic behavior, thoughts, and emotions by asking and answering successive questions. These questions are especially useful for journaling, an excellent tool for self-exploration. All questions may not apply to you or there may be others that are more useful. Avoid using judgmental statements or questions as you explore (such as, “What is wrong with me?” or “I’m really a mess” or “I’m a failure,” or any other negative term). This activity will be most helpful if statements are factual, matter-of-fact, and avoid emotion. There are many variations on this approach so find one that works best for you.

- What is the behavior, thought, or emotion? Describe what happens, how it happens, and how others react to it or are affected by it (if at all).

- How does the behavior, thought, or emotion affect your best interests?

- How do you feel about the behavior, thought, or emotion? How does it affect your self-esteem? Self-respect? Sense of self-control? Hope for the future?

- What triggers the behavior, thought, or emotion?

- What behaviors, thoughts or feelings are subsequently triggered by the behavior, thought, or emotion?

- Why do you believe you engage in this behavior or have this thought or emotion? (If any part of your answer is blaming others, you need to be more honest.)

- Have you ever avoided this behavior or emotion following your trigger?
How did you do that? What made that possible?

- What beliefs support the unwanted behavior, thought, or emotion?
   How did these beliefs develop?
  What assumptions support these beliefs?
  Are the beliefs and reasons factually true?
  What evidence supports that conclusion?
  What evidence supports your belief? Would others think your belief is true?
  What feelings, thoughts, or actions do your beliefs cause?

- Have your feelings about your behavior, thought, or emotion changed over time?

- What would you like your behavior, thoughts, or emotions to be?

- What constructive actions would help change the behavior, thought, or emotion?
   Which actions are you willing to take? Which will you take?


© Gloria Valoris, 2015

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