Sunday, 22 May 2011

Journaling Tools

A few weeks ago, I read a post by Dan Pearce, blogger extraordinaire that writes Single Dad Laughing. In it , he described a journaling exercise I had never heard of before. I think it's brilliant and wanted to share it with you. I think journalling is an excellent way to relieve stress and deal with negative feelings in a constructive way.  I have done many different journalling exercises over the years, I suppose thats how I came to blogging. My first blog, The Cyberangel Chronicles was basically my online diary. I prefer typing to my  chicken scratch handwriting but I find I censor myself more when I think someone else might be reading it. I do like Dans technique though and suppose I could just email myself when I want to work out my  issues. So next time you have a problem, try this method of getting to the root of things so that you can sort things out.

Journaling to find the root of the problem by Dan Pearce
A couple weeks ago, I wrote the post Sit Down and Write. In it, I promised that I was going to write about a process I personally use to get to the bottom of whatever issues I may be dealing with. It's called journaling, and it's a method that was taught to me by my counselor.

The idea is simple enough. The process takes blatant honesty, which isn't always simple, even when you're dedicated to the idea.

Journaling to find the root of the problem.

Step One: Write down the problem or the issue that you're dealing with.

Step Two: Write down the question, "why is that such a big deal to me?"

Step Three: Answer the question.

Step Four: Write down the question, "why is that a big deal to me?"

Step Five: Answer the question.

Step Six: Continue in this process until you get to the underlying root of the problem.

Step Seven: Write down your emotional need based on the root you've discovered.

Step Eight: Give yourself an action item to deal with the root (not the original problem) as well as to get your emotional need met.

It's much easier if you see it in action before trying it yourself. Here is a journal I did shortly after my second wife left to help me figure out why I was upset with a friend. The names have all been changed.

CURRENT ISSUE: I am frustrated that John doesn’t want me to hang out with our mutual female friends alone. Particularly Janie and Deb.

Why is that a big deal to me?

Because they are my friends too, and all I want to do is hang out with them when I’m bored or lonely.

Why is that a big deal to me?

Because I feel that John has unspoken reasons of why he doesn’t want me to hang out with them if he’s not there.

Why is that a big deal to me?

Because I feel like John has insecurities when comparing himself to me and that it is causing him to not want girls that he has liked to hang out with me alone because they might like me instead of him.

Why is that a big deal to me?

Because I am not interested in them that way, and I feel that John has no reason to feel insecure against somebody who has been divorced twice and is broke.

Why is that a big deal to me?

Because I want John to be a true friend in that he doesn’t compare himself to me, rather he just enjoys what comes to our lives as a result of both of us being friends to many people.

Why is that a big deal to me?

Because that’s what best friends and bros do.

Why is that a big deal to me?

Because I consider John my best friend and bro right now, and I need to know that he’s secure enough that it won’t cause problems with my ability to have personal friends.

Why is that a big deal to me?

Because I feel that personal friends is a huge need in my life right now.

Why is that a big deal to me?

Because I feel that, besides John, I don’t really have any really close really good personal friends right now, and with all of this pain and all of this heartache I’m going through, I need the closeness of others.

Why is that a big deal to me?

Because I need validation that I’m still a good, decent person worth people liking and wanting to be around.

Why is that a big deal to me?

Because right now I’m feeling like a big loser and that everybody is judging me for what has happened to me.

Why is that a big deal to me?

Because I am scared that if they judge me for what has happened to me, that they will not want to be close to me or that they’ll no longer look up to or respect me or want to be friends.

ROOT EMOTION: Fear of Rejection

EMOTIONAL NEED: To know that people that I already know and love or am friends with still want to be friends with me even after what has happened.

ACTION STEPS: Read this journaling chain to John and ask him to let me meet my emotional needs by being okay with me hanging with mutual female friends sometimes in order to validate that I am still wanted. Also, discuss with John what his root emotion might be and what action steps I might take to help with any emotional need.

After doing this chain, I was able to see that I was upset because I had a fear of rejection (which is quite often the case when doing these chains). Once I figured that out, I was able to be real about it and get my emotional needs met. I completed my action steps, and the problem immediately went away.

The problem is, most of us try and treat the symptom instead of the disease when we're dealing with things. As we do rash things to try and correct the surface issues, our needs go unmet, and we often do more damage than good in the process. By doing a journaling session before we tackle pressing issues, it opens up the ability to make decisions that actually have the ability to fix things for us.

The key, and often the trickiest part, is to forget about the original problem while you do your journaling. Every time you ask the question "Why is that a big deal to me?" you need to focus only on whatever was written immediately before it, forgetting your original problem altogether. You can't let what originally bugged you affect anything else. If you do, you'll have a hard time getting to the true root.

So, there you have it. It's the process I use to make sure I'm overcoming my life's problems in the most healthy way possible, and it has really done some good things for me. Take it or leave it. I hope you'll at least try it. It can be used for heavy issues, and it can be used for simple and barely significant issues. It can be used to figure out the hard stuff such as heart-pounding jealousy or resentment towards loved ones as much as it can be used to figure out why you're annoyed by something seemingly minuscule.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave me a comment, Rhianna

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