There are 2 tools I use almost daily that I have found are extremely powerful when it comes to feeling in control of your life and steering it in the direction of your happiness.
The first is journaling. Now, this idea probably makes you think of 7 year old girls and their pink diaries, so it’s easy to dismiss, but if you can get past that concept and open your mind you will find it is extremely beneficial for the following reasons.
1. NO JUDGEMENT!
There are a lot of people I know who feel they have no one to talk to, no one who really understands them or what they are going through. I know from personal experience that failing to express your thoughts and emotions, especially the negative ones, can lead to disaster.
The phenomenon known as “bottling” can be really bad for you. Carrying around sadness and anger and grief and guilt and all those nasty feelings can really put a downer on your day, your life and your relationships. By not acknowledging how you feel and letting these emotions out, you are effectively letting the past block your present and future potential.
But it can be scary to admit, even to yourself, that you feel a particular way. I personally battled with allowing myself to be sad for years…it always came out as anger… and believe me it wasn’t good for me or the people around me.
Whether you feel you can talk to the people closest to you or not, journaling is a way to get out everything that you’re feeling in a secret place where no one but you is judging. You can rant and rave, write down all the things you wish you could say or do, and all those things that you can’t really go around saying to people in your journal. No one will know. You can even burn it after you write it 🙂
Like I said above, bottling is terrible for the simple reason that it just doesn’t work. Just because you’re ignoring that you feel sad or mad or guilty or whatever does NOT mean these feelings cease to exist. What it means is that you’ve buried them somewhere and when you least expect it, they will come out in ways that are harmful. Trust me, I know, I used to bottle all the time, and then one day I started having panic attacks. For others, it comes out as depression, for others self destructive behavior….and the list goes on.
I can personally attest that every time I feel upset and let it out in my journal, I feel better after. I can move on with my day. Why carry all that crap around when you can just dump it in your journal and be done with it?
3. Self knowledge:
You can sure learn a lot about yourself and what makes you happy by rereading your journals every so often. And as they say, knowledge is power. The more you know about how you work and what makes you tick (or ticked off), the easier it will be to make decisions that will make you happy- and how awesome is that!
Out of all the ways that people deal with feeling crappy, journaling is by far the least money. All you need is a pen and a notebook, which you can pretty much get for $5. At that price, why wouldn’t you?
Reasons why people don’t:
Let me clarify, the type of journaling I am talking about isn’t “what I did today” type stuff. A lot of folks get overwhelmed if they haven’t done it in awhile, feeling like they have to update everything that has happened since they last wrote….Not the case!
The purpose of journaling in this manner is to help you release your emotions. So write about your emotions, not what you did today. If you let go of this feeling obligated to update your journal on the minutiae of your day, you can use it as a tool, instead of an obligation.
3 things to journal about:
1. Emotions- how are you feeling? Why? Just let it allll out 🙂
2. Gratitudes- write down 3 things a day you are grateful for- after awhile you will notice you are a happier person because you are training your brain to look for the good, not the bad in life.
3. Proud of- this is awesome for building self confidence. Write down 5 things you’re proud of yourself for that day. Small stuff counts too! I sometimes even write that I am proud I took out the garbage. Laugh if you want, but I tend to procrastinate that chore and it’s not a pretty one to let slide.
I hope this helps you. I know it’s helped me more than I can describe here, so I really, really hope you try it. 🙂