Updated: May 9
I assign journaling homework often as a therapist. I journal, I love journals so much that I make journals. Journaling is a tool to safely channel emotions onto a safe space. It's a place to reality test thoughts without hurting feelings. It's a way to reprogram the script in our subconscious brain. It's a way to sloooooow down the racing thoughts that repeat themselves in our head over and over, like a hamster on his wheel... going nowhere.
Here's a step by step technique to get the most out of your journal.
Create a zen zone, maybe it's a room, maybe it's a favorite chair with a cup of coffee. This space should signal safety and comfort to your subconscious brain.
Turn your phone OFF! Move it out of the room. No phone touching while jouranling. It will consume and distract you from the purpose. It will tempt you from afar. Be strong. This is YOUR time to unplug.
1) Brain Drain.
Get it all out. Be honest, impulsive, truthful to your first thoughts, impressions and feelings. Example:
"So and so is a turd face... yea! You know you are and what you did!"
"I can't believe my stupid therapist is making me talk to myself. Why did I hire her anyways?"
"This made me so mad I could just scream."
"I hate my job!!!"
"Why ya got to be so complicated?"
One of the biggest reasons we struggle picking up our journal is when struggle being honest with ourself. I quote a friend who once told me, "It's a bitch when you have to lie to your own journal." Look here buddy.... that may have a few ounces of truth. Ouch.
3) Reality Test.
Is so and so really a turd face? Do they really know what they did? Did you talk about it? Is there a reason you hired your therapist? Is she unreasonable? Can you apply to a new job or find a silver lining to make it better? Can you take some time to fantasize about what you'd like to do? (It's carving a new pathway of possibility into your subconscious brain! FANTASIZE!!! It's SAFE here. Rewrite your script. CREATE SOMETHING NEW!)
Today I was playing out the possibility of buying a $60,000 gypsy wagon and traveling for a year. Ok, in reality I have no where to park it, and I'm short $60,000 and a vehicle to tow it. But I felt space playing out the possibilities of that choice. It released a feeling of "life has to look like this!" In reality it is a choice to sell everything and live in a gypsy wagon. Not practical. But possible.
4) Action Plan.
What are you going to put in place? You always have a choice to shift a difficult situation.
"I'm going to tell turd face how I feel." Sound it out here before it turns into a 3 day argument or longer.
"I'm going to go to therapy and tell my therapist I didn't do my homework again... cause I really don't want change, I just want to vent to someone each week and pray for magic pixies to come get my problems." (When you find them, tell them to call me!!)
"I'm going to apply to a new job. I might not take it, but I'm just going to see what happens. Applying to a new job is grueling, so I'm just going to take the weekend and spruce up my resume. Ya know what? I'm going to do it on the company's clock! Yeah! I'm going to get paid for this! How does it get better than that? I'm going to take one step at a time. And I'm going to give myself credit for taking a positive step forward."
Your calendar is your existence system. When we say "I'll do it someday" KNOW that someday is on the road to never. A calendar is your reality and your certain inevitable future timeline. 1. You can do anything for a year. 2. A year goes by really quick. Don't waste it. You don't have to commit to a new job next week. Maybe you apply to jobs for a year and explore your options. Maybe you take a class in a different field to see how that change feels. Change can be slow. Today – While I didn't plan to sell everything and buy a gypsy wagon today, I did decide to commit to some art hobbies on my calendar that would go along with a gypsy lifestyle feeling. And maybe I'll post that gypsy wagon on my vision board, because it makes me smile to dream about it. Realize: I didn't do anything significant or impulsive, but I'm invoking space in my life that lights me up. That is a shift. You're looking for shifts to make you happy and create positive change.
Always ask an open ended question and don't answer it. This is my own personal technique of manifesting. "How does it get better than this?" "What else is possible here?" "How does this work out better than I ever imagined?" Leave it. Don't answer it. You're asking the universe, God, magic journal pixies, whoever to show up and have your back and create more in your life. The world has infinite possibilities. You're asking for it to orchestrate some of those possibilities and stack them in your favor. Ask and you shall receive. (STOP ASKING AND PREPARING FOR CRAP YOU DON'T WANT!)
How often should you journal? Daily baby. Sure I have my days where I can't, but I start to get cranky after 3 days.
Best time: Typically in the morning after you wake up in your most suggestible time of the day to program your daily attitude. I created a morning routine of curling up in my zen zone with coffee, journal and favorite pen. If you're worried someone is going to read it, shred the pages. That can be energy cleansing in itself. This exercise is a conversation with your soul. Don't reread it. Channel out the energy and move on.
Length: 3 pages is the goal. But go with your flow. If you have 30 minutes, what comes out comes out. At least end it with the postitive closing question even if you didn't have enough time.
How can this work out better than I ever imagined?