I can remember journaling as far back as when I was in the fourth grade. I would often have trouble sleeping at night and didn’t want to wake anyone up, so I started writing and drawing to pass the time until morning or until I fell asleep. I fell in love with music right about the same time, so a lot of what I would write would be lyrics to my favorite songs and just my thoughts about my friends and the bands that we listened to.
I continued to journal through middle school, high school, and college as life got more and more complicated for my creatively beautiful brain. As I found some of my journals years later and reflected back on my writing, I noticed that I really only took the time to write when I was sad, overwhelmed, scared or angry. In my need to always appear happy and together, I chose to write my negative thinking and self-doubt in my journal. That left me feeling down and depressed…. It became a Pavlovian response for me.
As I grew healthier and more content with myself, I unconsciously avoided journaling because it no longer served a positive purpose. With that insight, I chose to begin to record both the ups and the downs of my life. Journaling then became a tool. You can choose how to use journaling as you take charge of your health and your life.
Using a journal is also an effective tool for dealing with anxiety and fear… two of the most powerful obstacles for making and maintaining changes. Here’s an example of how my client Jane used journaling as a tool for relieving stress effectively:
"Coach Meg, you had challenged me to write down things that are making me feel anxious and what I am doing to handle them better. Sammy (her 9 year old daughter) is going away with her dad this weekend, and I’m feeling anxious about it. After writing about that and asking myself how else I could look at the situation, I realized that it’s a good time for me to refuel, and it gives me a chance to build on other relationships with friends and family. Besides, I can’t change who my ex is or what he does, so why would I put my own precious energy into worrying about it? My goal is to be the healthiest parent I can be. I immediately felt more grounded once I wrote that and sat back to reflect about it. STRESS ATTACK ABORTED!"
If you’re aware of an unhealthy or unproductive choice you are about to make, and take six to sixty seconds to think through a better choice in the moment, you can then choose differently and seriously change your life, one choice at a time. Journaling your thoughts, actions, and observations is an amazingly powerful activity to do to help you achieve this lasting, healthy, positive change.
By changing your inner attitudes in your mind you really can change many of the outer aspects of your life. As we have learned over the past few weeks, your attitude and perspective matter. The mantras you incorporate into your thinking will fuel your energy for change. They will make a big difference in helping you stay on track to making the positive choices that impact your life.
I hope you have enjoyed unpacking all of this with me and I hope you have been encouraged by it all! Missed any of the other positivity mantras, attitudes and perspectives? You can find them all here!
Have you had positive experiences with reflective writing? Is this a tool you think could help you with making sore positive choices towards your goals? I'd love to hear all about it in a comment below...