The 12 Point Plan – 10. Journal

Journal, Mind

Benefits:

The second point in the Mind realm is to start looking at what’s going on for you mentally and emotionally.  The purpose of this tool is to create some space to acknowledge any lingering emotional issues that may have accumulated in your life, and then attempt to process them.

Modern life is busy and most people’s emotional awareness is effected by this pace of life.  Lots of things will happen in the average person’s day that will cause them some annoyance or resentment, which often they don’t get an opportunity to process or express.  Or they may be experiencing fear, which they haven’t stopped to acknowledge, around things that might happen (or not happen).  Yet more emotional baggage could be being carried around as unprocessed sadness/grief.

Action:

At least 2 x per week, Journal x 20+ mins

1) Quick overview (2-3 minutes):

Start by writing some bullet points of events of that day or days since the last journal.  Consult your diary/calendar.  Where have you been, who have you seen, what has happened?  Don’t get into any detail.  This is just to remind you of events.  Also write down any other bigger themes that are going on for you that aren’t specific to those days.

2) How are you feeling? (Up to 1 minute):

Ask yourself “How are you feeling out of 10?”.  10 is really good, 1 is terrible.   Don’t overthink it, this is just a general gut feeling. You’re not allowed a 7 (everyone goes for a 7).  If you’re inclined to go for 7, you have to choose 6.9 or 7.1

3) What emotions are you feeling?  (5-10 minutes):

Write anything that is relevant in each of the following emotional areas (there are many different models that define emotions, this is just a very simple one to work with):

  • Fear – Are there financial, work, relationship, health or any other fears in your life at the moment?
  • Anger/resentment – Has anyone, or anything been triggering you to feel angry recently?
  • Sadness/Grief – Has loss of something or someone left you with sadness? Change can leave you grieving for what was, even if you choose it knowing that it will make you feel sad.
  • Shame/Guilt – Are you holding judgement towards yourself for anything you’ve done, or not done?
  • Happiness/Joy – Also, record any things that have made you feel happy, achievements made, etc. (these might be useful for tomorrows Gratitude List)

4) Processing (6 mins+):

Stages 4-6 could be done for all of the emotional stuff that you’ve listed in stage 3 if time allows.  This could be a lengthy process though.  It might be necessary for you to prioritise one and just work on that for today.

Honour the emotion and allow yourself to feel it fully – Where are you feeling it in your body?  Does it have a shape and/or colour? 

If you know it is there but you’re struggling to really feel it, you may be sub-consciously keeping it at bay.  A visualisation that’s worked for me in the past is to imagine a flood gate or a large door that is holding back the feeling. Open it and allow the feeling to wash over you.  Try to let go of any judgement of the feeling as “good” or “bad”.  Just accept its presence.

Give yourself permission to scream (into a pillow if necessary), cry, laugh or really be in the fear for a little while. 

5) Decide if any change is desired (3 mins+):

Once you’ve given yourself the permission to really feel these emotions (rather than trying to avoid feeling them or changing them with some kind of distraction), you’re in a much better position to see if there’s any thinking that is causing you to keep feeling this way unnecessarily or getting you stuck in the emotion when it comes up.  You may decide that you’re perfectly happy with this emotional response to the circumstances and that this has just been a good opportunity to fully express the emotion and let it pass. Alternatively, you might decide a change in thinking is desired and reflect to see if any unhelpful beliefs have contributed to this.  Write down any beliefs involved in this emotional response.

6) Create new beliefs or affirmations (3 mins+):

Write down any new beliefs you would like to carry forward into the future.   Often these will be more forgiving/understanding and less judgemental of yourself or others.   Sometimes they are simply the opposite belief to the one that has caused the reaction above.  You don’t have to fully believe them either, they’re just an alternative idea that could give you the space for some reflection. 

You can make these new beliefs into an affirmation and start using it in your Gratitude & Affirmation time (the next of the 12 Points).

But remember, the feelings above are completely valid ways of reacting to events or situations.  You’re not trying to get rid of these feelings or expect them to not come up again in the future.  Our instincts will always bring these emotions up in our lives.  Instead, you’re trying to add something to your consciousness that, when you have the impulsive reaction, would temper the feeling, giving you space to reflect.

Going deeper:

You may well find that some things keep appearing in your journal regularly that you are getting stuck on.  You might find that following the practises above (raising your awareness of your feelings, allowing yourself to feel them fully, creating new beliefs and then using them as affirmations) still doesn’t seem to be shifting anything.  If this is the case, you might want to look at other practises that help you make deeper internal shifts.  Here are some examples that I’ve had personal experience with and would recommend looking at:

  • Shadow Work or Emotional Processing Work – a powerful type of therapy designed to help you uncover your emotional wounds and learn to live with them from a place of wholeness.  Speak to me or search online for a practitioner.
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) – A system of tapping on acupressure points whilst repeating phrases connected with your emotions.  Find a practitioner or look for videos/instructions online.
  • Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
  • Hypnotherapy

There are many more and some will suit you better than others, so do some personal investigation to find what’s right for you.  Personal growth is a lifetime journey and I hope that this will be a starting point for you if you haven’t done any of this kind of work for yourself before.