Monday 13 August 2012

Journalling School Session 4: Positive Journalling

Welcome to the fourth session of Journalling School. Today's session was originally going to be quite a frivolous one, but I've been struck by the number of comments so far about people having found themselves getting bogged down in negativity when journalling. So today we are going to explore positive journalling, and its mood-altering abilities.

Often, we are advised to face challenges and work through issues by writing about how we feel in a journal. That is worthwhile, because once you've cleared the air and got those feelings down on paper, I find that they stop eating away at you. It can be as though you have pulled them from your mind and trapped them on the paper, and that's a great result.

However, there comes a time when enough is enough and when what's lacking is a little positivity. Just like you can smile yourself into a good mood, you can write your way into a positive attitude, or confidence, or relaxation. Simply write about one, some or all of these topics:
  1. What am I grateful for?
  2. What am I looking forward to?
  3. If things go well for me, how will I feel next week/month/year?
  4. What nice things do people say about me?
  5. Who do I love and why?
  6. What are my greatest achievements this year/this decade/in my life?
You will end the writing session smiling and feeling warm and confident, which could be enough to make a big difference to the outcomes of your day.

If you have feelings of depression, fear or discontent, you have to acknowledge them first, though, or your positivity will be largely wasted as suppressed feelings keep intruding on your consciousness. So if you want to use your journal to influence your mood in a more positive direction, there are three steps to achieving it.

STEP 1: Write about how you actually feel. Poor out the worries, fears, concerns. Share your depression with the page. Acknowledge what's on your mind.

STEP 2: Keep going as long as you need to. Make sure you write down every aspect of your malaise, even if it covers pages and pages. When you've finished, pause. Let the echoes fade away.

STEP 3: Write down one of the prompts listed above and then answer the question in as much depth as you can.

Followers of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) will recognise this as the Match-Pace-Lead process, but rather than engaging with another person to influence them, you are engaging with yourself. And the influence you create will be very real. When you try this technique you will put down your journal in a different mood from the one in which you picked it up. It is catharsis, as Rori pointed out in a comment at Session 1.

Image © Copyright Rod Trevaskus and licensed
for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence


One day this week, work through the three steps in a journal entry. Try to do it in one sitting, but spread it over a couple of days if you need to. Make sure you really write it all out, and then give as much space to the positive prompt as you can. Do more than one if you like, and keep the focus positive. Afterwards reflect on how you feel.

That was the fourth session of Journalling School. In the next session we'll be doing some role playing.

Feedback, thoughts and ideas are welcome, as ever. Please share your experiences in the comments.

1 comment:

Kelly Marriott said...

Great post! One thing I have been doing for the past year is my own version of Julia Cameron's morning pages. I write my negative thoughts and worries in a separate "cheap" notebook. I don't always limit myself to three pages per Cameron's philosophy - I may only fill a page or I may rant on for many pages. It's a stream-of-consciousness process that gets the negative out of my system. I find this a very cathartic way to start the day, although I don't always have time in the morning. I find that anytime something is bothering me I can "get it out" in the morning pages notebook.

This way, when I begin writing in my regular journal, there is so much less negativity. That doesn't mean there is nothing negative in my journal, but I tend to be more introspective and am better able to get my real thoughts in the journal.

I know this makes it sound like I have a lot of negativity in my life! Not so - I am a very positive person, but doing a brain dump of my worries, troubles or negative thoughts really is cathartic, as you said. It's like peeling back my worry veil and letting my real thoughts come through.

Love your suggestions for homework topics!


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