Ah the journal, my powerful little tool that makes sense of my thoughts and helps me experience more pleasure every damn day.
These particular scribbles were about noticing when my victim mode has kicked in, how good and powerful responsibility feels and sending an amazing friend off on their travels with love and appreciation. It was also about letting go of jealousy that had shown up, stories I'd attached, noticing where I felt this in my body and allowing it to process.
You’ll hear me say this over and over - neural pathways are responsible for every experience we have, every movement, thought and action. Every time we do something new, a neural pathway in our brain is formed, and like a new muscle, it’s weak. As with a muscle, to make it stronger, we keep using it. Just like a baby learning to walk.
When we write something down, we are flexing that muscle, so if you want to experience more pleasure in life, notice what gives you pleasure, talk about it, write about it, do more of it. All this builds up those neural pathways, so finding pleasure (or any other experience) becomes a reflex reaction.
I love the good old analogue, pen to paper. For me there is something more powerful with the kinaesthetic transfer of energy from my body to the paper via the pen. It not only slows the thoughts, but literally transferring the energy form my body helps me to let go of the thoughts that can often turn into a whirlwind if not managed.
Is there a right or wrong way to journal?
Not ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’, but we can just as easily use journaling to reinforce negative beliefs. When I started journaling a few years ago, it was during a relationship with a lot of new feelings and experiences that I didn’t know how to make sense of.
Just putting pen to paper immediately slowed the whirlwind in my head, but even after pages and pages I’d still feel lost and confused. I was only ever repeating the negative, therefore building up the negative neural pathways.
Then I was shown a technique called evidencing – writing down what I was feeling, about whom and the situation and what I ‘thought’ it meant; then taking a few breaths and looking for evidence to support those beliefs.
This is based on a CBT technique of writing negative thoughts and evidence for them, then adding a balancing thought to offer alternative interpretations. e.g. John didn't invite me to the party so he hates me, balancing thought would be that maybe he just forgot.
The next thing I introduced was gratitude. We have a negative bias, like our own internal risk assessment system, that always seeks out the worst in a situation. By recognising three or more things I am grateful for each day we are able to reset the negative bias. It really is that simple.
So, all my ladies: first step is to go out and get a beautiful journal (find pleasure in everything!), mine include beautiful, embossed leather numbers right the way through to glittery unicorns. They don’t have to be expensive, the only rule I have when buying a journal is that it has to make me smile.
What do I journal about every day? Something always crops up: past stories, emotional triggers, other peoples’ stories, something amazing I want to appreciate, a fabulous idea, gratitude.
How to start?
1. Get a journal that you love and a pen that feels good to write with (you know, the ones that just suit your handwriting perfectly)
2. Set a reminder on your phone; lunch-time works as it’s also a good reminder to stop and rest
3. Start the day and end the day with three things you feel grateful for, even the smallest things, such as:
a. Sleeping for seven hours, delicious
b. Writing two blog posts
c. A dam fine almond milk latte
You’re building up those neural pathways to pleasure, just through writing things down.
Give it a go!
p.s. Have you joined our Tribe?? In the IM Woman Tribe Facebook group, we talk frankly and openly about how our bodies actually work, myth-bust years of damaging cultural advice and strive to love and accept our bodies exactly as they are, right now. Plus, you can access ‘personal training for your libido’ programmes and get to know all of my tips and tricks.
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