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Stepping Stones to a Better You - Self-improvement through Journalling


In the words of Stephen Covey “seek to understand, then to be understood.”

While this statement is intended for external communication, it is also true for your internal world - Fostering a better understanding of self allows you to be better understood in the world.

The most useful way I found to better understand myself was through Journalling. Now this is a powerful tool for understanding and changing limiting behaviour. There is no right or wrong way to journal, however I found that if I had written a bunch of negative things that it was important to move the conversation towards the positive thing that I wanted to create rather than beat myself up over the things I didn’t like or the things that I struggle to do.

The law of attraction states that we attract what we consistently think about, so in order to attract positive, you need to think positive. This was a mistake I made for some time. I led an “examined life” and I was making progress, but I kept finding myself falling back into old habits and my journaling would follow a pattern of good days then bad days and, on the good days, I was comparing my positives to the bad days and therefore still focusing on the negative. I would ask questions like “What is wrong with me?” OR “ Why do I keep doing this to myself?" Now those are really bad questions. If you ask yourself that question your subconscious will start looking for the answers and because you tend to find what you focus on, your subconscious will find many, many answers to that question to reinforce your belief.

For a long time I followed this pattern. I learnt a lot about myself in this time and made some good progress, but my life never really soared until I started to focus only on the positives. There may be the occasional reflection point to help understand something, but now it is quickly turned into something empowering. Now, when I write it is like someone else takes over and moves the pen for me. The words just roll out with very little effort. Journalling is a great tool to help you on your journey. Some of the benefits of journalling include:

a. A better understanding of your habits and patterns

b. Helps to manage Anxiety and Stress

c. Helps to prioritise goals and understand Values

d. Helps you to work through problems in your life

e. Can help to slow down your thoughts (the monkey mind)

f. Helps when dealing with depression

prioritise goals | Understand Values | slow the mind

This was possibly one of the most powerful steps in my journey (and still is). Journaling really helped me to understand what I was doing and how I was doing it to myself and lead to true self-improvement over time. It gave me incredible insight into my habits and patterns and as I wrote I felt empowered. Whether I was writing about the shitty day I had at work or an amazing experience with a friend or family member, it was freeing to just write and let it flow. It slowed down my thoughts and helped me reason through my emotions and experiences and the more I wrote, the more I could see the patterns in my behaviour and work out where I was. Just the process of taking everything out of my head helped me to reduce negative internal dialogue. Once it was written down, I didn’t have to hold that negative thought any more. And once it was written, it is great to review every now and again and see the progress you have made.

How do you start?

Self-Improvement through Journalling

Keep it simple…

It is easy to get caught up in the how to. But just keep it as simple as you can. Pick a medium that suits you – a notebook, phone ap, computer program or even a voice ap and just start writing. There is no right or wrong way to journal. Over time you will become more attuned to the process and the words will rattle off the tongue. I always make a point that if I have written something down that is negative or self defeating, I finish with a question – something like – how can I do this better tomorrow? That way you are finishing with a learning that can guide your direction towards a more positive outcome.

Keep it consistent…

Set aside 5-10 minutes every day to write and make it a ritual. First thing in the morning or before bed are two great times to journal. If you are having trouble sleeping, then before bed is a great time as it allows you to get a lot of stuff out of your head.

Keep it Calm…

Create a nice calming space to journal where you will not be disturbed – perhaps in your favourite chair with a cup of tea or your morning coffee.

Pro Tips:

It can be good to set an intention for your journalling experience. These could be:

• To understand your thought patterns.

• Reflect on the emotional state of the day.

• Explore the dynamics of your relationship’s.

• Measure your progress against your goals.

• Reflect on how you are living your life on purpose and in alignment with your values.

overcome anxiety and stress | Understand habits

You could start with simple prompts like, “How did I feel today?” or “what am I grateful for?” or “what went well today?”.

If you are not sure, you could Google some journalling prompts to help you find what works for you.

Journalling is a very personal thing and there is no right or wrong way to do it, just remain curious and open and it can lead you on a journey of self-discovery.

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