Journaling - this is one of my favorite self-discovery tools. Journal prompts, paired with curiosity and honesty, can bring to the light of your consciousness things, people, events, and emotions you forgot, disowned, rejected, suppressed, pushed away, and identified as "not you". It is a self-healing tool, because it can bring up to the light of your consciousness some very profound truths about yourself.
And as Evette Rose says: ”awareness of a problem is a problem half solved”.
The moment you let yourself write down anything that comes up in your mind without censoring it, you open doors to deep truths about yourself. When you ask a question and let go of the expectations as to specific answers that need to come up, you let your subconscious spit out the truth about your beliefs, childhood wounds, fears, hopes and desires.
I am sure you are familiar with the emotion of feeling stuck on your healing journey, asking yourself: “why have I done it again” or “why is it so hard to let go of something” or “why does it happen to me”?
“The Ladder” Journaling Technique
Let’s say you want to discover what keeps an ailment in your life present. I want you to ask the burning question 20 times. After each time you ask the question, you’ll write down whatever comes up in your mind. Do not censor your words. If answers seem stupid or cruel, let them out anyways. After you ask yourself the same question 20 times (almost like climbing a ladder one rung at a time) and answer each time, go over your answers all at one. What pattern emerges? What unmet need is calling for your attention? What do you notice about the theme of your answers?
Example: “why is it so hard to let go of sweets”:
(these are my real, honest answers)
1. Sweets provide immediate pleasure.
2. Sweets remind me of my childhood’s good moments.
3. Sweets feel like a reward.
4. Sweets are for people who deserve love.
5. When I eat sweets, I don’t have to feel negative emotions.
6. I associate sweets with happy times.
7. By eating while I am stressed, I can bypass the stressful emotions.
8. Sweets are gifts of love.
9. I don’t know what to substitute the rewarding feeling of eating sweets with.
10. It feels good to share sweets with others.
11. People who say no to sweets aren’t fun.
12. I associate sweets with celebration.
13. Sweets pick up my mood immediately.
14. I deserve pleasure and happiness, and sweets give me those feelings.
15. My mom used to give me sweets for good behavior, so eating sweets makes
me feel like I am a good person.
16. My grandma used to make the best sweets, and I swear I could taste her
love in her home-made treats.
17. Sweets and being playful go hand in hand.
18. I loved being a careless kid, and I associate sweets with that feeling.
19. I really miss being childlike, and sweets temporally take me back to my childhood.
20. Sweets are an escape from discomfort.
What prevalent topic or pattern can be noted here? Well, I see that the theme of childhood comes up a lot. Sweets are almost taking me back in time to my carefree, playful and happy childhood moments, and I also see that those moments were usually accompanied by sweets. The assumption that I lack childlike happy moments and carefree play at the moment of craving sweets would be correct. So, what can I do with this information now that I am are of it? How can I use it for my healing?
The next modality of journaling would be the best to discover solutions to my conundrum.
“The Future Self” Journaling Technique
Take a few minutes to relax before starting this exercise. When you are ready, sit down, close your eyes, and let your imagination take you where it wants you to go. There are no right and wrong ways to do this exercise.
Imagine yourself in the near future with your problem gone.
You are at your peak level: mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually. What do you notice? Be as descriptive as you can. Imagine as much detail as possible and note it down.
How far into the future is this Future Self living?
What do you look like? What do you wear? How does your body feel?
What do you feel like? What emotions are predominant?
What are your thoughts like? What do you think about?
Do you worry about anything?
What do you eat? Drink? How does your exercise routine look like, feel like?
Describe your sleep.
Describe a day of Your Best Future Self, starting from morning, going through all the motions of the day, and ending at night.
Describe how it looks like, sounds like, feels like, smells like, and how does it taste.
Ask any other questions you'd like to have answers to right now.
Now that you imagined Your Future Best Self in detail, ask yourself the following questions. Note all that comes to mind, there are no right or wrong answers here.
How did your Future Best Self differ from your current one?
How did it feel to see your Future Best Self?
What emotional resources do you need now to transition into Your Future Best Self?
What tough decisions did Your Future Best Self have to make in order to get where it is in the future?
What words of encouragement could your Future Better Self give you now to inspire you to make those tough decisions?
What advice would you ask Your Future Best Self, knowing that all is alright 10 years from now?
What would that advice sound like? Imagine yourself acting upon that advice. What do you notice?
Now, given that you have an advice form Your Future Self, that doesn't have the problem you have now, what steps do you need to take in order to implement that advice into your life?
To discover what's stopping you from implementing these changes, you can start by giving voice to the part of you that is in resistance to these changes.
Let's assume that in order to let go of sweets, your Future Self is advising you to feel your emotions fully and speak up about your needs. Now, a part of you is resistant to speaking up about your needs. Let's give that part a voice.
“The Integration” Journaling Technique
To integrate the two parts of you that are in direct opposition to an issue, you have to give each of those two parts a separate voice. If you have a part of you that does not want to speak up about your needs, you also have a part of you that DOES want to speak up.
For the purpose of this exercise, I want you to fully embody the part of you that you'll be speaking on behalf of.
First, speak on behalf of the part of you that is in resistance. Ask it what is so bad about speaking up? What is the worst thing that can happen if that part speaks up? What does it mean to speak up about your needs, according to this part of you? Does this part pof you have any beliefs about speaking up and/or needs? Ask it as many questions as you'd like. Note the answers.
Next, assume that you are speaking on behalf of the part of you that does want to speak up about your needs. Ask this part of you the same questions you asked the part that was in resistance. Note the answers.
To integrate the two parts, validate each part of you- it has a reason to believe what it believes given it's beliefs and previous experiences. Feel into your answers and decide which one is more congruent with you. Which part is more logical? Which part acts out of fear? Which part will bring you closer to your goal? What actions can you take to keep both parts satisfied? What actions can you take to keep the part of you that you're not choosing to go along with feel safe? What can you promise this part to show it acceptance and love?
Sometimes, the best technique for journaling is just writing. Letting the words come out of you, let your hand scribble in big letters, until your thumb goes numb and the tips of your fingers become sore...
What is your favorite way to journal? What provocative prompts do you use most often? What have you been able to discover about yourself through journaling?
I teach my clients these and several other journaling techniques in my Healing and Coaching Programs. Schedule your first call with me here to find out more!