August is one of the hottest months of the year. Have you ever noticed that as temperatures rise, so can tempers? It’s why we refer to an angry person as ‘hot’. People are uncomfortable in high heat, and when lacking other productive habits to deal with stress, can take out their discomfort on others. Life is all about relationships, so part of living a life that feels better to you, includes creating an atmosphere of better feeling with others. Whatever we put ‘out’ we always get back. So, how can you keep spiritually, mentally, and emotionally cool even when things are ‘hot’?
” In the diary you find proof that in situations which today would seem unbearable, you lived, looked around and wrote down observations, that this right hand moved then as it does today, when we may be wiser because we are able to look back upon our former condition, and for that very reason have got to admit the courage of our earlier striving in which we persisted even in sheer ignorance.”
—Franz Kafka, The Diaries 1910-1923
Journaling allows an emotional release. As the mind plans what to write on the page, you consciously or unconsciously ask yourself deep questions: How am I feeling? What events led to this? Where do I have power to make other choices? What have I learned?
According to TheHealthJournals.com, “With practice, [someone who journals] sees himself plan what he wants to write about, focus on the activity, use reasoning skills, and confront emotions and behaviors that could be problematic as he tries to get his old life back,” Lewis says. “In the rehabilitation field, we say that the client who uses journaling as a tool for recovery is practicing both bottom-up and top-down skills: he’s rehabilitating specific cognitive skills like paying attention to and organizing thoughts by practicing them, and he’s using metacognitive skills to think about how his brain injury is affecting his thinking, emotions, and behavior.” http://www.thehealthjournals.com/journaling-emotions-helps-us-heal/
This tool is beneficial for dealing with emotional injury as well. For years, mental health professionals have suggested patients write letters to those who have harmed them (even if they shred or burn them after) and patients report a shift in the way they feel about that person and emotional relief from the harm that was done.
My own clients who participate in a daily gratitude practice that involves writing down the things for which they are grateful, report massive shifts in not only their emotional well-being, but also in tangible manifestations in their life.
One client tells the following story:
“My husband and I were living less than paycheck-to-paycheck. Each month we chose which bills to fully pay and which to make partial payments on. Between both our incomes, we paid whichever bills were due around payday, counting on payday to come before the next due date. One bad week, and we would find ourselves in big trouble financially since our expenses exceeded our income.
We began to notice a pattern every time we came into extra money. We would plan what we would spend our tax refund or bonus checks on, but inevitably there would be some unplanned expense right as we had the extra money. We thought we must have the worst luck in the world.
After beginning a gratitude practice, we began to ask ourselves if the inevitable expense had been awaiting a time when we could actually afford it, and if our bad luck was actually our greatest blessing. Since a gratitude list had helped us to see this gift work in our lives, we decided to make a ‘set it and forget it’ list. We wrote a list of all of the things that we would eventually like to have or do. We set the list aside and ‘forgot’ it.
Within about 3 or 4 years, when transferring hard drives, my husband found this list. He shared it with me and we laughed as we noticed that all but 1 or two items had been done.”
This is just one of many examples that illustrates the power of the written word. Journaling allows us to not only write to release emotional toxins, it also allows us to create positively what we want to experience in life.
There is a residual effect that happens when journaling is part of a regular practice. Clients who journal regularly report that the things that used to stress them out, no longer seem so important. The mind has an opportunity to put into perspective the situation and allows us to use our creative powers to formulate answers.
Here is a quick journaling practice to get you started:
- “Over the next six months to one year, I would like to see positive change in this area of my life:”
- “These are the feelings I would like to experience more of:”
- “These are specific things I would like to do:”
- “These are specific tangible items I would like to add:”
- “These are better feeling relationships I would like to cultivate:”
- “This is an activity I can see myself participating in:”
My coaching practice is devoted to sharing the tools that I have learned along the way for creating a better feeling life. I work closely with clients like you to work through difficult situations and to help you see your way to the life you ultimately want to live. Contact me today for a no-cost 30 minute intro session to discover how we can work together to bring you more lasting joy.
“ Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” —William Wordsworth