Journaling for change
I sometimes feel like journaling gets a bad rap…
Although that may be something I need to journal about .
What is it about journaling?
Some people recoil at the thought of doing it… did you do the same just then?!
While others journal daily, writing multiple pages about anything and everything, recalling all the things/events/places/people etc (this was teenage me).
There are really productive ways to journal though and this is what many people aren’t aware of.
I’ve heard people say that they don’t have time for it.
That it doesn’t help them.
That it’s a waste of time.
That it’s something only young girls do.
and the list goes on.
But in a world where time can feel like we are forever running out of it, prioritising actions that help us progress in life is important, I’m sure you agree.
I love to write… if you’ve been reading my emails for a while now, you probably know this about me.
So for me, journaling makes sense.
I have used journaling quite simply to recall my day or a special experience so that I don’t forget the feeling.
To describe a dream I had.
I have used journaling to get all my negativity or anger/aggression out – abuse the paper rather than the person.
I have used journaling to make a decision or to resolve a problem.
And today, I use journaling – well for all of the above, but specifically,
to identify what I’m thinking and how I feel with the intention on changing that thought and feeling.
This is where journaling gets GOOD.
Where it becomes SUPER VALUABLE.
Awareness is ALWAYS the first step in any process of growth, development or transformation.
Say you want to learn to do a handstand, you need to experience body awareness to understand how to adjust your body so you can hold the handstand better.
If you want to learn how to cook better, you have to experience the process of cooking, make something, then try it and become aware of the flavours and identify if it tastes the way you want it to. And if not, make it again and do it differently to improve the flavours.
If you want to learn how to speak a language, you have to start speaking that language, making the sounds and forming the words with your mouth and then become aware when you make mistakes, so you can correct yourself or ask someone what the correct way to say it is.
So, in order to become aware of your thoughts, you need to take the time to do so.
This could look differently for some people.
Maybe some people like to talk it out, maybe some people like to think about it.
But there’s a clarity and understanding you get when you write it down on paper and then re-read it.
This allows you to make the connection between your thoughts, your feelings and much more.
You start to see how the words you use are simply stories you’re telling yourself.
They’re not real. They’re not facts. They’re not true.
So, if your thoughts led to feelings that led to you taking a specific action which culminated in a specific result in your life, then wouldn’t you want to become aware of your thoughts so that you can control what happens in your life?!
Of course you do!
Let me give you an example.
Let’s say you’re super stressed. You feel overwhelmed, fatigued, short of breath and anxious. You have so much swirling in your brain.
You want to make an important personal decision but you just can’t.
Let’s say you’re trying to decide if you should move to another city.
You’ve been trying to figure out if moving is what you really want for ages but you keep circling back waiting for the day when you feel better able to make that decision.
More grounded, more calm, more focused, more level-headed.
But you’re stressed, anxious, tired and overwhelmed, so you never feel this way.
You keep putting off making the decision.
A decision that would change your life.
Time passes and passes and you still haven’t decided. And now you’re not enjoying life. You feel unfulfilled in your current location. You want a fresh start, a new life, a new beginning.
For whatever reason, you still can’t think clearly and you just don’t know what to do.
You sit down and take a moment.
You close your eyes and slow your breath.
You quiet your mind and let go of your thoughts for a second…
In an instant, you remember that you have a journal and you take it out…
…you start to write down your thoughts about this decision. You write everything that comes to mind about whether you should move or not.
(side note: have you ever noticed how as soon as you let go of your thoughts – your expectations – things come to you?)
It only takes you 10 mins.
At the end of this time, you stop and re-read your words.
While re-reading, you realise that everything you’ve written is a story you’re telling yourself.
A story full of words that don’t feel good.
None of what you’ve written is a fact, the truth, or a circumstance, it’s all just a bunch of thoughts, possibly even lies, you’re telling yourself.
You notice how you’ve used words like “can’t” “scared” “life changing” ‘ “should” “not fair” fairly regularly.
You circle one sentence that stands out:
“I don’t know what to do. I feel paralysed”
You realise this is what you’re focusing your attention on… this thought that says “I don’t know what to do.”
Then you realise that this thought is causing you to feel incredible “paralysing” fear.
You also realise that because you’re thinking that you don’t know what to do which leads you to feel fear, you’re not taking any action and as a result, you’re not making a decision.
It’s the thought “I don’t know what to do” that is keeping you stuck.
To quickly summarise all that:
Your thought: “I don’t know what to do”
Your feeling: (paralysing) fear
Your actions: none – you’re frozen in this fear
Your result: you’re not making a decision.
So once you realise all this , and remember that
“where you place your attention is where you place your energy,”
you then decide that you don’t want to think this thought anymore.
The only thing that you realise is true is that you want to move and thinking this thought “I don’t know what to do” isn’t helping you to move forward and make a decision.
So rather than going around and around in circles some more, you decide that
if you change your thought, it might just change all of the other things.
Knowing how to use a journal to become aware of your thoughts created more awareness for you.
And all it took was 10 minutes and a bit of breathing.
This is the one of the things I help people do. One of the tools I teach them.
It has helped me tremendously and it helps my clients also.
And eventually it becomes second nature so you can stop, take a moment, become aware and then go into the next step (to change the thought and the feeling, leading to a different action and result).
Simple tools are the best, aren’t they!
Why complicate life any more than we need to?
So if you know it’s worth making the time to write down your thoughts…
…then why aren’t you doing it more?!
You want to feel calmer, more in control.
You want to know what to do, what decision to make.
You want to become more aware of your thoughts, rather than letting them rule your life.
Start journaling about something going on in your brain.
Start circling the things that are TRUE.
(There will likely be nothing circled)
Find a key thought. Pull it out (circle it).
Identify how it makes you feel. Write that thought down.
And start to notice, day in and day out if you have similar thoughts and feelings coming up for you.
Become aware each day, in your writing as well as in your words and your thoughts.
And see if you can stop telling yourself stories that don’t help you.
And start telling yourself ones that do.
All my love friend ❤️,
P.S. Let me guide you through this technique, along with others in my 1:1 coaching program. Become the best version of you today, with my support. Realise that you’re worth it ❤️.
P.P.S. Know someone who needs to learn how to change their thoughts and feelings but isn’t sure how? Please tell them about me and forward this email to them and change their life forever. Thank you x