The Power of Journaling
In the last blog, I shared an acronym C.L.A.R.I.F.Y. that I created to help you remember important keys to positive mental health.
C = CLEAR YOUR MIND / RENEW YOUR THINKING
In order to clear you mind of negative thoughts and have more positive mental health, you must first understand the relationship between your thoughts, feelings and behavior, called the
Cognitive Triangle, this is the first principle I teach to all of my counseling and life coaching clients.
(Be sure to read the last blog - Thoughts & Feelings are Connected)
The second step is the “L” in C.L.A.R.I. FY.
L – LISTEN = LISTEN TO YOURSELF.
Listening to yourself, and becoming more aware of your self-talk is important to understand if you want to be more successful in self-counseling and managing yourself. The goal is to live by your will and your decisions instead of your feelings. If you want to be all that GOD created you to be, and be as happy and content as possible, you’ve got to get a hold of your feelings and manage them.
I often use the analogy that our feelings are like butterflies, flitting around the garden of our mind. With the awareness of the relationship between thoughts and feelings, you are beginning to look at those butterflies, observe them more closely, and then cast your net to bring them closer to your control.
The scripture, 2 Corinthians 10:5 says it beautifully
“We refute arguments and theories and every lofty thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God; and we lead every thought captive in to the obedience of Christ.”
Yep, that’s the goal, to bring every thought captive.
So how do you do that? That’s where the Power of Journaling comes in.
STEP 1. The first step is awareness. To begin thinking about your thinking. To notice your self-talk, that internal conversation that you have with yourself all day long. That inner voice that no one can hear but you. Paying attention to your self-talk and noticing it, will help you to recognize your negative and pessimistic thinking which is connected to your negative feelings.
STEP 2. The second step is to journal. Specifically to journal or write down the self-talk that you hear yourself often thinking and repeating through-out the day. Now, you can journal anything else you like, such as how your day went, prayers to the Lord, complaints, etc. but if you want to improve how to manage yourself, you must get in touch with that self- talk and write it down.
When I talk too many of my clients about journaling, I hear a few groans and moans “Oh, I knew you were going to make me start journaling” is usually the response.
When speaking at a women’s’ conference recently, one of the participants said “You are about the 40th person who has suggested that I begin journaling.” “Hmm” I said. “Maybe there is something to that then!”
The other response I get when I mention journaling is the exact opposite, something like “Oh, I already journal. I have about 10 unfinished journals now!” “Well 10 is a lot of journals, but that’s good that you are journaling.” Is my reply.
But the kind of journaling that I am talking about is different. Normal journaling is where you write down whatever you are feeling and thinking at the time. I remember some of my earlier journals consisted mostly of prayers and complaints. Prayers for help with my current struggles and complaints about people who were treating me badly.
That kind of journaling is fine, but in this process of becoming your best self, and managing yourself more successfully, this needs a different kind of journaling.
For this process, you will not only begin to notice your self-talk, but it’s important for you to write down the self-talk that you often hear yourself thinking. That repetitive self-talk, those phrases that you repeat to yourself over and over again.
When you begin to pay attention and write that self-talk down, you will begin to become more aware of just how often you think that thought throughout the day and throughout your week.
Here are a few additional tips:
Put pen to paper
Now, some people like to journal in their phone, which is fine, But I’ve found that when you put pen to paper, when you sit down and take the time to hand write in your journal you will be more connected to the energy that is needed to increase your self-awareness. There is something about the energy that is transmitted when you write something down in your own hand writing on a piece of paper. So my recommendation is that you use a journal notebook and take the time to write down your thoughts in your own handwriting.
How long should I journal?
That depends on you. There is no set answer to that question, but I would say that a minimum amount of time to spend journaling would be from 10-20 minutes each time. Why? Well, it takes time to think about your thinking. It is not uncommon, for you to open up your journal, and find that you have nothing to write, it’s as if your mind goes completely blank. It make take a few minutes, but start by writing the first thing that comes to your mind that you think frequently. Once you open the gate, I’m pretty sure the rest of your thoughts will come marching in.
What should I journal?
For this type of journaling, as mentioned before, as you pay attention to your self-talk, you will notice yourself repeating certain phrases throughout the day. Those are the phrases that you need to document by writing them your journal. Now, you can write anything else in your journal, but segmenting a page, or identifying a page just for this work will be helpful to you in not only parking these phrases on the same page each day, but you will begin to notice a few things:
- How frequently you say the same thing to yourself over and over every day
- How negative this self-talk is – either about others, but more likely about yourself.
Most of my clients are shocked at how negative their self-talk is about themselves.
They knew they were thinking in this way, but when they started writing it down, they couldn’t believe how negative they were being to themselves!
The next step is to ask yourself a few questions about your self-talk, such as
Is this true?
Is this helpful? Is this in my Hula Hoop?
Ending in prayer by asking the Lord, and the Holy Spirit to guide you, to help you release unforgiveness towards others and to forgive yourself is the path to self-healing.
In the next article, I will delve more deeply into the above questions.
Thoughts, comments, suggestions that work for you? Please share.
And if you think this article will help someone else, please share it with them as well.
Disclaimer – If you find that you are beginning to be triggered by this information or by journaling, please contact a mental health professional immediately or call 911.