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Journal writing is amazing!

journalYou don’t have to be a good writer to enjoy journaling.

There are many ways to write a journal.  The word derives from the French word Jour – day, and is a daily record of your thoughts, feelings and experiences, similar but different from a diary.  A journal is very individual and private. Journals can be shared as in student journals and reflective practise journals, but in this article I am looking at personal life journals that are useful to give you an overview of your life, to express yourself and to find your own way of coping and improving your self esteem.

 

My Experience of journal writing

I wrote a 5 year diary from the age of 15 to 20, dwindling entries the older I grew!  Looking back at it now is fascinating and gives me insight into how I was many years ago.  Even in this I can see themes, values and indicators of how I made decisions.  For many years I continued to write diaries, often only when in distress or when there was a huge momentous experience.  I found it helpful to write short notes and these have proved so useful in understanding myself later in life.  At the time the journal offered me a means of expression, to off load the harsh or strong emotions.  Reading later on it gives me so much more than I ever dreamed of:  a snapshot of events, people, communications that were important, that helped to create the person I am now.

 

Writing a journal helps you to know yourself.  It allows the unconscious to surface and be heard privately.  This is a release and can be a freeing and spiritual experience.

 

Start with your life story!

When working with clients I ask them to buy a beautiful book as a journal. Something they love and relate to as it will accompany them on their journey.  I suggest they think about their life in roughly 5 year chunks and write down the significant events, highs and lows briefly (without analysing too much), who influenced them, who they loved/disliked, what was happening, the peak moments, where they lived/went to school/uni/work etc.  A general view.

This takes some time and there is no rush.  There is no need to be a brilliant writer – just jot down words, phrases, there is no need to be perfect here! You can embellish the story with photos and mementos too if you like!

 

If you can’t remember, then if you feel happy to, ask friends or relatives about things, it all helps in connecting and remembering.  When working as an Occupational Therapist with older clients I spent hours creating Life Stories for patients with Alzheimers or Dementia with the help of their families.  These were so precious in honouring the person within and helping care staff to respect and understand them.

 

Other ideas

Journals are great for just about anything you have on your mind.  Use them as a depository to dump the thoughts and ideas, jot notes and lists.  Answers to questions or questions to find answers to.  I have a list of questions if people are stuck for ideas such as:

 

What am I most grateful for?

What were the 5 happiest moments in my life?

What was my saddest moment?

Who is really important to me?

What is my secret dream?

If I had all the money, time and energy I need what would I do?

 

There are 100’s of questions to get you flowing.

 

Make Space in your life for writing your journal

Create a regular time to write in your journal.  It may be daily at bedtime or weekly on Thursday evening – find a way that fits well for you.  In times of stress journal writing can be a fantastic relief and will help you focus and clarify where to channel your energy.

 

7 reasons to write a journal:

  1. It gives you an overview of your whole life
  2. You can see the highs and lows without analysing
  3. You understand how you make decisions and what influences you
  4. You can recognise your role models, inspirations and influences
  5. It helps you understand what you value, love and need in life
  6. It helps you to understand what you do not want in life
  7. It helps to give you clarity, focus and direction.

Alongside journal writing creating a visual representation of your dreams and goals is wonderful.  My next article will be on the benefits of creating a Dream Board (Vision board/Treasure Map).

If you would like to work on improving your self esteem I offer an individual course as part of my life coaching sessions in person or over the telephone.  This course has helped many people find out who they really are, accept themselves and feel comfortable in their own skin.  For a free 15 minute discussion just call me on 01803 847674 or 07779496240

A few more boosts for your Self Esteem…

butterflyWhen you feel the sudden awareness that your self-esteem is dipping or crashing.
Stop!   ….. Breathe deeply and slowly in and out 4 times and try one of these savers:

    Self-talk is important.  Often the internal critic will fire off negative comments, be ready for it and counter this by saying to yourself:

“I am good enough!”

“I can stand this”

“I have my own opinions, thoughts and feelings”

“There are things about me that are likeable and things that are not so good  – just like anyone else”

“I have overcome more difficult problems than this in the past”

“I am not perfect and don’t need to be. I am good at some things and not so good at others”

“I don’t know for a fact that everyone is having a better time than me.  Just because they are busy doesn’t mean they are more happy”.

  • Remember life is full of choices and you make them, especially how you chose to think.  Prepare in advance by thinking of words that represent values you want to feature in your life from now on.  For example love, laughter, fun, integrity, calmness, kindness etc.  Search out experiences and thoughts to make these words live in your life!
  • Focus on what you do want rather than what you don’t want in life. Be aware of the language you use;  “try” is a word that implies something may or may not happen; instead say:  “I will” which gives a positive commitment that something will happen.
  • How would you like people to behave towards you?  Do people know how you feel?  Sometimes we expect others to read our minds.

Simplify life by letting your nearest and dearest know what you need.  Instead of saying “You make me feel ….  Come from the I.  I feel ………     Or I need …….…     This feels far less critical to the person receiving your comment and you clarify what you do actually feel and need.

  • Let go of anger and resentment.  It is your choice how you react to others; it may be a habit to break.

What would it be like to decide not to feel like this?  To not react?  How would life be?

If others tease you, frustrate you and make you feel criticised decide to recognise the feeling,  accept it and not react.  By giving them the attention they seek you are fuelling the fire.  Remove the reaction and the behaviour will stop over time. You will eventually find you can turn a negative situation quickly into a positive one.

  • Remember your own personal boundaries.  If someone pushes you too far and a situation is getting out of control. Stop, take a couple of deep breaths and tell them you can’t deal with this now.  Make a time later in the day or week when feelings will have reduced where you can discuss the issue calmly.  Then leave the situation.
  • Spark your enthusiasm.  Sometimes life can be become a bit humdrum, same old pattern or habits, people and places.  This is when you can feel bored and dissatisfied.  It’s time to fire your enthusiasm:  read inspiring articles/blogs, look for new things to do e.g. Holiday destinations, days out, galleries, exhibitions, country walks, historical houses, plays to see, new films to watch, books to read, book clubs to join, hobbies to investigate.  Consider something you have never tried before it might just be the spark you need

We all fall into negativie thinking patterns at times.  If this is problematic take some time when you are feeling OK to plan how to cope the next time you don’t feel OK.  A wise investment to reduce future stress and discomfort. Keep the plan handy and use it as a safety valve when you feel yourself slipping.