Experiencing Emotions Fully & Safely Through Journaling – Find the Style that Works for You
“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” ~ Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Emotions – we love them when they make us feel good. But when we’re experiencing emotions that make us feel uncomfortable we want to control our emotions, turn our emotions off, hide our emotions, manage our emotions, or numb our emotions. We can even hate ourselves for the way we feel.
It’s easy to label emotions as good or bad, but your feelings are simply messages from your body and mind informing you that you have a situation needing your attention; and you’re going to learn something from it!
Experiencing emotions in a healthful way doesn’t come automatically. Too often we’re taught to suppress our true feelings, so we don’t make someone else feel uncomfortable. Rather than helping us learn how to successfully experience and express emotions, we may have been shamed by comments like, “Grownups don’t cry!” “You shouldn’t feel that way!” “You’re such a baby.” Oh, quit your boo-hooing.”
As a result, we resort to inappropriate ways of expressing emotions. At one extreme, we may become emotionally remote; at the other extreme we may respond with little self-control and develop behaviors that push people away.
One of the healthiest ways for experiencing emotions fully is through a practice of mindfulness that includes journaling. Even if you don’t like to write, you can enjoy journaling. If one type of journaling doesn’t work, try another until you find a good fit for you. Journaling should be cathartic and clear emotional clutter.
Here are five things to keep in mind…
1. Journaling regularly doesn’t mean journaling every day. It does mean that journaling becomes one of your go-to tools when you need to sort through emotional clutter.
2. Journaling doesn’t mean writing pages. It can be as simple as writing one word to capture the essence of your day. Of course, distilling all of your emotions down into one word takes a lot more work than writing paragraphs.
3. Journaling doesn’t mean everything you write is wonderfully insightful prose. That unrealistic expectation is perfectionism rearing its ugly head; it’s procrastination.
4. Journaling to remember is a way to help you forgive and move on. Trying to forget, without experiencing your emotions, will create disharmony of your Parts and it becomes a wound that never heals. The more you try to forget the more it haunts you.
5. Journaling is a way to connect your past with the future. Use it to expand your personal growth, develop business opportunities, or leave a legacy for the next generation.
While the following is not a comprehensive list, it will give you examples of different journaling styles you can use while experiencing emotions mindfully. Feel free to mix it up…
- Free writing journal. Process your emotions by writing everything that comes to mind. Don’t stop to correct or edit. Just let it flow. Early morning is a good time for this.
- Capture journal. Carry it with you to jot ideas as they come to you. Keep this by your bed at night, because, guaranteed, you’re going to come up with some of your best ideas in the middle of the night. Rather than stewing, write the idea/emotion, close the book to let it go, and drift back to sleep.
- Inspiration journal. If you thrive on inspirational quotes like I do, record them as you find them in your daily planner — one quote per day. By the end of the year, you’ll have 365 nuggets that are very meaningful for you.
- One-sentence journal. Sum up each day with one sentence.
- Gratitude journal. Include what you’re grateful for and why. This helps you go deeper and will uplift your energy.
- Intention journal. Focus on labeling your emotions and setting intentions that support the emotional state you want.
- Remembrance journal. Record what happens AND how it makes you feel.
- Artistic journal. For you visual people — draw, paint, or collage your feelings rather than write them.
- Guided journal. If you have trouble coming up with ideas, a journal designed with prompts, questions, and points-to-ponder may be the best fit for you.
- Vision journal. Explain your big dream (lifestyle, career, family life), why it’s important (tap into your feelings and motivation) and what you will do to achieve it. This engages both the analytical and creative sides of your brain.
- Video Journal. Document your life, thoughts and feelings. It’s easy with a phone app.
The point of journaling is for clearing your mind, getting your thoughts sorted out, and fully experiencing emotions. As Elizabeth Gilbert points out, “Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.” Well, you have the power to break free! Every month I share more self-leadership skills that help you thrive during difficult times via my newsletter, why not sign up today!