Hi friends, happy Tuesday and welcome to another post by Chantel the owner of Chantel Funk + Co. Today I thought it would be good to revisit why journaling can be an effective tool and share with you why I love it so much. I have also created a short video on Youtube with another reason why I love it so much that is not shared here as well as the flow of what I journal. Link at the bottom.
The state of the world is in such a strange place. People are experiencing very strong emotions and are having a hard time processing them. There are several great healthy coping tools that one can utilize to process emotions and work through them to find inner peace and a stronger sense of self. A few tools are:
– learning about emotions
-talking with a friend or therapist
-relaxation or meditation strategies
I love journaling and utilize it every day (along with a variety of other healthy coping tools) but I didn’t always love it. My journey with journaling was kind of like a mule digging its hooves in.
I would say generally, as a human I struggled with my emotions just like most humans. Then you add the fact that I am a Cancer and a highly sensitive person (or in other words struggle with sensory processing) and it is was a recipe for a lot of conflict and a mess that was overwhelming. Life has not been easy and it has taken me a while to find my sense of self. It has also taken me a long time to figure out what emotions have been guiding my life that need to take a back seat. My journey with healthy coping started four years ago after I lost my dad. When grief was added to my emotional struggle, it became the final straw for much needed change. Long story short my counsellor insisted I try journaling for three whole years before I gave it a shot. Call me stubborn or maybe just my ego thought I didn’t need it or it wouldn’t be effective. I can say with certainty that I didn’t understand or comprehend that emotions had such a strong control over my life, that I was self sabotaging and manifesting repeat negative cycles. Most importantly that I didn’t have to live this way and that inner peace and a sense of transcendence can be sought after and enjoyed.
Without getting into the depths of my psychology (which I find so very interesting) lets dive into my top reason for loving journaling and why I think it is something you should try.
I Love Progress
Have you ever gone throughout your day with amazing intentions and the willpower to be positive, happy and enjoy your life but have found yourself in a reoccurring pathway towards pain, fear, stress, anxiety and negativity? Yes? Well, its because we are wired to go that direction and our autopilot drives us there. No, unfortunately its not because the world is out to get us. Yes, it is your own doing. That’s shit news isn’t it? Well, this has been the awakening of 2020/2021 for me and the kicker was learning that I had the ability to change this outcome. We do not have any control over circumstances, thoughts, emotions that our body responds to strongly, events, other people and so much more. We do however have the ability to change our response to everything we experience. We can change how we respond by rewiring our neural pathways.
What does behavior change look like in the brain?
Neural pathways, comprised of neurons connected by dendrites, are created in the brain based on our habits and behaviors. The number of dendrites increases with the frequency a behavior is performed. I picture these neural pathways as deep grooves or roads in our brain. Our brain cells communicate with each other via a process called “neuronal firing.”
Psychologist Deann Ware, Ph.D., explains that when brain cells communicate frequently, the connection between them strengthens and “the messages that travel the same pathway in the brain over and over begin to transmit faster and faster.” With enough repetition, these behaviors become automatic. Reading, driving, and riding a bike are examples of complicated behaviors that we do automatically because neural pathways have formed.
Just because patients have formed neural pathways does not mean that they are stuck with those habits forever. As patients participate in new activities, they are training their brains to create new neural pathways. The pathways get stronger with repetition until the behavior is the new normal.
For more from this article excerpt read HERE.
This is such a great way of explaining how neural pathways work. Repetition. So, you’re telling me that if I write an affirmation over and over again that I can make a change with my thought? Thoughts –> Behavior, that’s really how this works? Cool. I can absolutely do this and so can you.
So when I journal I do two important things:
1- I look at negative parts of my day or the way I responded to that part objectively and spell it out on paper what happened, what I did, how my body felt (note that I didn’t say how I FELT), and what memories came with that experience. By looking at these events objectively and picking them apart I create a new habit of not engaging in the experience and eventually I won’t be so greatly influenced by these negative experiences. I learn that they are not who I am, that they are neural pathways I developed as a child that have an automatic response to triggers.
2- I write affirmations about who I want to be. For example one habit or behavior I have that I want to change is that I am a critical person to those who are close to me. It is something I would like to shed and replace with a healthy alternative. Understanding my psychology around it helps but ALSO writing everyday that I am an encouraging person will develop a more sense of awareness and remind me when I am not living into this value. I want it so badly that I actually have a visual representation of it in my bedroom now so that I can hold myself accountable when I wake up and when I go to bed. I hope to represent this quality/characteristic more as I age.
What is super cool about writing all these magical thoughts and emotions and affirmations down is that I can look back six months earlier and actually see the progress I have made. This reward comes in trusting my ability to be a better person through seeing it evolve in my journal. Who doesn’t love a great pat on the back and a deepened sense of self worth?
Finding The Seat Of Self
I got to a point in my life where who I was was not where I wanted to be. I would be so bold as to say it was a sense of self loathing. A sense of needing to be elsewhere and it came from the trauma of my past. Quite possibly when my fear, pain and trauma collided together it created a collision that was remarkable and requiring an urgent level of tlc. I cannot say this was a day or an event but rather a feeling that evolved in a season of life. A great awakening if you will. However you want to analyze it, it propelled me on a journey moving forward.
Journaling has been the incredible tool that has allowed me to dissect my life in a way I couldn’t comprehend verbally or in my head. Pulling part of my story out of who I am and allowing them to be just something I experienced that created a series of events. In contrast I have been able to also imagine how things could have been differently, what needs were or were not met and again just really learn more about me. The real me who is watching all of this happen.
It has been truly healing.
A journal is private and is a place where you can explore ideas without judgement. You do not have to experience shame or guilt for the things expressed. I highly recommend it.
To get back to why I think the world should journal… It appears to me that many of us on this earth are being moved towards a polarity. That we are enraged, saddened, confused, scared, excited and hopeful and many other huge emotions that are at the root of decisions. All valid feelings. All ok. But here’s the thing, do you want to be making decisions that are rooted in rage? How about fear? What if humanity could take a step back, learn, reflect, use logic and reason and make healthier decisions about life? What if the person next to us isn’t out to get us? What if they too have experienced something really hard and want to also feel peace? What could the world look like if we all brought our best self to the table?
That’s a world I will always root for.
Thank you for reading today, much love.
WATCH MY YOUTUBE VIDEO HERE FOR ANOTHER REASON WHY! >> click here <<