Journaling to Heal the Past
There is well documented research on the benefits of writing out your thoughts and feelings. Something powerful happens when you start a serious inner-dialogue to observe what you feel, why you feel the way you do, what actions or words you spoke and what the results were. There is an enormous amount of content online already about journaling, and I will have links to articles at the end that I think offer great value in this area so I will not get into the details of how to journal here.
I do want to stress to the skeptics out there that want to succeed and grow as an entrepreneur or professional, the difference between journaling and not journaling is like choosing to walk a rocky road barefoot on a scorching hot day. You may have enough determination to make progress down the road, but you may quit and struggle a thousand times more because you don’t realize how beneficial journaling (or shoes in this scenario) can be for your journey.
When journaling to heal from your past I have found it helpful to write in my emotion and allow for total freedom. You can use profanity and expletives, you can call people names, you can say whatever you want because this is you with you and no one else. It is a safe space and more freeing than speaking with another person, hence why I believe it to be more powerful than any other approach. Writing from the heat and fire of a present emotion is the most direct path to hurt and trauma, but it comes in steps. Personally, I have been able to write in my emotion and have been able to bring myself back to a state of calm and clarity and progress forward in my thoughts, solutions, and perspective in one session. You may have to take this in steps. Write out your emotions in the moment and then walk away. Do something healthy and constructive such as weight lifting, running, art, cooking (well maybe not cooking - no one wants angry or sad food), biking, or get in your car and take a ride or go for a walk.
Once you return to baseline, read through the emotions, thoughts and feelings you poured out. This time your approach and goal is to see this from your “higher self.” At this point in your life, you are aware of what limiting beliefs are, you know doubt and fear when you see and hear it in others. This second part is about separating from the emotion and looking at yourself with clarity. Pull out what stings the most. Dig deeper on why that stings. I have journaled in my emotion and looked back on it and thought to myself, “what an ugly thought” and I have felt shame and disgust that I allowed myself to feel or think and behave a certain way. As you go through this process you can be removed enough to even offer empathy for the other person(s) involved in your emotional state. Healing is about staring nakedly at yourself in the mirror eye to eye without holding in your stomach to make it look flatter, it's not about standing at an angle that makes you look better, it is about being real, empowered and prepared for all the b.s. your old self will try to throw at you.
Healing is about staring nakedly at yourself in the mirror eye to eye ...it is about being real, empowered and prepared for all the b.s. your old self will try to throw at you.
I don’t know that the old you ever truly dies or goes away. I am not that far yet. However, I do know what every military, sports team and business strategist knows; knowing your opponent is the best way to victory. From here on in, your old self, your old ways, what everyone thinks they know about you is the opponent. Don’t allow yourself to get overly consumed with healing from your past than you have to. Watch out for pitfalls of wallowing in pity-parties and beating yourself up for a past you cannot change. You do not live in the past, it is a historical record of events, it has served its purpose to this point and I wish you well to move forward.
Journaling to Create Your Tomorrow
Dr. Joe Dispenza has said, “the best way to predict the future is to create it.” So journaling about your future is a very practical and free way to create an extraordinary life on your terms. The default mode of journaling for many people is writing about your day, what happened, and everything in context of past-tense. Journaling can be greatest when writing in the future tense with one goal to create what you want for yourself, your family and the world you reside in. You don’t have to know exactly what you will be doing or where you will be to create the best future version of yourself. It helps to have an idea of what you can see yourself doing, but I don’t believe it is a requirement.
Let your imagination run and think of all the people you admire and their best qualities. How can you bring some (or all) of those qualities you admire into one person and encapsulate that person with your body, your best body, however you define it, and tie it all together with what makes you unique. This is your chance to be creative and write a character you would give everything you had to become. How does this person talk? What does this person eat? What are this person’s interests? What type of activities would you find this person doing? When crap hits the fan, how does this person respond? When opportunity presents itself or an idea comes to mind, what does this person do? How does this person walk into a room? This is the future you, give this person a name and talk about this person often in first person.
You are probably asking how, so I will give a simple example here; if the future you does not drink soda, but you currently LOVE soda, and a friend offers you a bottle of sparkling water or a bottle of coca-cola you say “I rather have the sparkling water. I don’t drink soda. Thank you.” Creating the best version of you is not about dreaming in the future. It is about changing and influencing your present day decisions, thoughts and actions through the lens of a future you that is incredible!
To use journaling for this, I want you to journal five quick minutes in the morning about your day ahead. More importantly, think about the potential challenges and inconveniences that may arise and how the future you (that should have a name) would handle these situations. Think about how the future version of you would respond to your spouse, your children or parents after a long day. How does the future you show up to a meeting and perform with excellence?
Make the time to journal daily about the future version of you until it begins to infiltrate your mind in such a way that you walk around actually thinking and talking like a future you that is experiencing all the joy and success that comes along with the decisions you are making everyday.
I always avoided journal prompts but they are absolute gems if you allow them to shine through your words. I started using journaling prompts and have been pleasantly surprised where they lead my thoughts and the gift of self-realization I get to uncover is always welcome. I want to suggest a Journal Prompt Schedule for the next 21 days. Please remember to be open and allow yourself to write whatever comes to mind with these prompts. Sometimes I set a 5, 10, 20 minute timer to write and other times I don’t. Please experiment and find what works for you. I still journal in notebooks, but I also journal in my google docs because I type much faster than I write. However, if you only ever type your journal you will miss a very important part of your internal communication. When you hand-write your journal, be present and try to write neatly. As you get deeper into thought and emotions arise, look at where your hand-writing gets sloppier and go back to that section. It usually points to something you should give attention to, and that gets lost in digital journaling, but I like a combination of both.
21 DAY JOURNAL SCHEDULE
SUNDAY - Vividly Imagine your future week ahead with great detail. Think about how your future you are handling your business, work, family life and finances.
MONDAY - I am grateful for… this is the gratitude journal on steroids. You are journaling about the day you had, but every sentence starts with “I am grateful for.” You may have gotten a flat tire, you start by saying, I am grateful for that flat tire today because… This one is a stretch but oh so valuable and fun to do.
TUESDAY - What I want… Let yourself dream as big as you can, or maybe you want necessities that aren’t being met. Whatever it is you want, remember to think about solutions of how to get them. Make sure to re-calibrate; is what you want aligning with your future self and vision as well?
WEDNESDAY - Today I noticed… This prompt I got from a writing class on skillshare and I loved it so much I kept it. Maybe you notice physical things around you, but you can also notice and take inventory of your feelings, thoughts, or someone else.
THURSDAY - I am grateful for… this is the same prompt and “rules” of writing from Monday. It's a great way to check in with your state of mind and bring your focus on gratitude even for the things that aren’t ideal.
FRIDAY - This week I struggled with… at the end of a five day work week take the time to reflect and be vulnerable and real with yourself about where you are struggling. Again, we don’t want to talk about wants and struggles without thinking about solutions and ways to improve and empower ourselves in the process. Also, include how your future self would tackle these challenges.
SATURDAY - I am happiest when… by this point of the week you need to think about what makes you happy. Think of some of the unexpected magical moments through the week that made you happiest. What are some of the things you want to experience and people you want to experience them with that would make you happiest in the future?
Repeat this journaling schedule for three weeks and let me know your thoughts over on the Facebook page. I would like to hear your experiences and any new tips you could share with others.
I have always loved and enjoyed journaling, ever since I was a little girl. I wrote letters to my parents, I wrote letters to God because I was angry and couldn’t bear the pain I felt. I continued journaling well into my adult years. It's interesting to realize, I smiled and took pictures when I was happy (or forced to by the family), but I journaled when I was hurting and suffering through life’s experiences. Having an outlet for my pain has served me as best as it could over the years. My journals are filled with sadness and frustration all in the past tense. It wasn’t until I discovered the power of creating my future that my mind opened and began to see a world where joy was on the horizon and success was part of my future because I wrote it on a page and started to live that way.
The Art of Journaling: How to Start Journaling, Benefits of Journaling, and More https://dailystoic.com/journaling/#sub111
How to Become That Which We Are Seeking https://blog.drjoedispenza.com/blog/change/how-to-become-that-which-we-are-seeking