Journalling is an amazing tool for self discovery. I have posted a few articles about the ways you can utilize journalling, to see if you are living a balanced life, to relieve stress, get to the root of problems and keep a record of your life, dreams and insights . Here are some more journalling exercises to help put things in perspective and create a method for healing the inner child that resides in all of us.
Life is hard. We have all faced challenges in life, not to mention disappointments, broken hearts, betrayal, loss, abuse and a whole host of negative emotions. The difference to your health is how you deal with those emotions and events. If you are like most people , you keep them inside and look for ways to distract yourself from having to face them.
Distractions come in many forms including, alcohol, nicotine, drugs, shopping, eating, hobbies, TV, even religion. In the meantime, while you are ignoring your emotions they are busy churning away at your insides and that usually adds up to physical pain somewhere in the body. By taking a look at the events and beliefs that shape our lives we get to know ourselves. We can use this as a tool to change the course of our lives and a way to find freedom from the past.
These journalling exercises will help you to look at the way you process emotional pain and to discover how it manifests in your body. Divide your journal pages into two columns. When writing about upsetting events, stop and scan your body. Where does it hurt? Write this next to the event or emotion that you are writing about.
Look at the following lists of positive and negative feelings and negative beliefs about ourselves. When the positive feelings are felt and experienced in our lives they are a source of health. Negative feelings that aren’t expressed, fester inside. As you read through the list , you will probably find that you have a strong response to some of the words while you have little or no response to others. Note in your journal the ones that apply to you.
Bliss Happiness Passion Ecstasy Joy Satisfaction Excitement Love Sympathy Fulfillment Optimism Tenderness Gladness Thrilled
Negative Beliefs About Ourselves
Unworthy Incompetent Incapable Unlovable Unwanted
Unproductive Stupid Abandoned Undeserving Powerless
Inadequate Trapped Guilty Inferior Burdensome
Shameful Misunderstood Confused Bad Betrayed
Weak Worthless No good Unloved Alone
Unattractive Victimized Sinful
Are inferior Have no power Are hateful
Create sorrow Abuse love Abuse the opposite sex
Are undependable Abuse power Like getting hurt
Are victims Deserve pain Are weak
We will always be:
Poor Misunderstood Stupid Disliked
Releasing Negative Feelings and Beliefs
Sometimes when we don’t know what to do with our feelings, they can seem overwhelming. The following nine suggestions show what you can do with your feelings rather than keeping them inside, where they can hurt you and others. It is time to stop that pain! There are ways to get those feelings out that don’t involve hitting, starving or stuffing yourself, creating an illness or acting them out in some way that will only cause more dis-ease in your life. Start now to to break those old, destructive and hurtful patterns of taking unresolved pain out on yourself. After you’ve released some of your feelings, give yourself a break. Praise yourself for doing good work, for possibly closing a chapter in your life. You may also want to record the experience, and any insights you may have had in your journal.
1. When you have feelings of hatred ,anger, resentment, sadness etc. towards an institution or person, write a letter expressing exactly how you feel. You do not have to mail it, the important thing is that you express your feelings.
2. Share what you are feeling with a counselor or trusted friend.Sometimes we want someone to hear our feelings though this is not always the person with whom we have a grievance.
3. You can put a chair in front of you and pretend the person or institution is sitting in front of you. You could even put a picture of them on the chair. Say everything that you have ever wanted to say to them about what they did to you. Don’t worry about their feelings. Take care of your feelings. If this is someone who has abused you in some way, visualize giving the offender back their shame, pain, and humiliation.
4. Drive to a place where you can be alone and yell and scream as loud as you need to. Say everything you need to, until you feel a release of your inner turmoil.
5. Get a plastic bat and beat your bed, couch, or a strong pillow with it, use something soft so you won’t hurt your hand. Scream "NO", "I won’t let you....... hurt me, humiliate me........".whatever you need to take back ,as loud as you can, and reclaim your power.
6. Sing. As loudly and outrageously as you want.
7. Cry. Put on sad music, go to a sad movie, wallow in old memories, what ever you need to do. Just let those tears out.
8. Do something physical. This could be dancing, jogging ,running, swimming, walking fast, playing a sport, bicycling, doing yard work, etc. Anything physical really helps.
9. Go outside, even if it’s winter. Be out in nature, you will be more grounded. Talk it out to the universe, it will really help to work out that fear, anxiety and anger.
Each of us has a child within, a part of us which is sensitive, vulnerable, playful, sweet, innocent, giggly, squirmy, creative, lovable, curious,smiling, and filled with wonder. Even if you don’t allow yourself to express this part, your inner child is still there--- wanting and needing attention, recognition ,acceptance ,love, nurturence and joy.
Developing a relationship with your inner child is very important for your healing process. If your inner child was wounded, not getting all the love or positive recognition it deserved, there is a good chance that that this same inner child is still very needy today.
You may be wondering how to recognise your own inner child. When you are in a situation that has brought up feelings of fear, anger, rage, sadness, confusion, despair, hopelessness, or terror, ask yourself how old you feel. Ask your child where it is, what is happening, how they feel. This is helpful in knowing if you’re reacting from the child’s or the adult’s feelings. You can do this in your journal. In one column on the right with your dominant hand, ask you inner child questions. In the left column with your non dominant hand ( use crayons or markers) let your inner child answer.
Warning - We all have a "critical parent" within us, that may try to sabatage this experience.They may say things like:
"Hurry up, you’re too slow"
"That’s a stupid thing to say"
Listen to your inner parent with the realization that the way it parents your inner child reveals something to you about how you were parented as a child. Simply take note of what it is saying, without feeling like you have to act on it. Go beyond the critical voice by paying attention to your inner childs own needs for affection and recognition, right now, they are more important than meeting the needs of the inner parent. It is up to you as the adult , now to give that child the safety, the protection, the reassurance, the attention, the acknowledgement that he/she (you) did not get earlier. Think about any small children you know right now. If they came to you needing to feel safe, loved and acknowledged, how would you provide that for them? You are going to have to learn how to give this to yourself.
Meet your inner child. Go to a park or somewhere childish and happy. Using your journal, let your inner child draw a picture with crayons/markers etc.with your nondominant hand. Let them pick the colours.If they are feeling angry, the picture may be mean, scary, unhappy or angry. Assure your inner child that this is ok, they can express anything they wish. Ask your inner child questions with your dominant hand. Let your child answer with your non dominant hand. Ask what they would like to be called. If you have not previously looked at the wounds of your inner child, he or she may not be very happy when you first make contact. They may feel very hurt, neglected, mistrustful, sad , alone, ashamed and unwanted.
Allow the child to say anything that they need or want to say. Give them all the time and space they need. Your child may want to tell you how lonely she has been or how hard it was when you were little. (Remember to watch for the voice of the critical parent, record those messages in your journal with your dominant hand.)
When you are ready to finish your dialogue with your inner child, tell them that you want to become more aware of them through out your daily life. Ask her for a code, a way to let you , the adult, know that she wants or needs to talk to you. For example, maybe they will think of the colour red. When you hear or sense an inner nudging of red, grab your journal and ask "whats up?"They will always have something to say!
Love this inner child. You’re the adult now. You can give your inner child everything they ever wanted or needed. Nuturing this relationship can fill up those empty spaces inside. The unmet needs of your inner child will no longer control your life. You will feel more complete.
A Picture of Your PastUse your journal to begin making notes about your childhood. Use photo albums, old toys or mementoes of your childhood to help you remember. Ask grandparents, family friends, old school friends if they remember any stories about you as a child.
Some questions you may ask yourself are:
What messages as a child did you receive about expressing your feelings?
Where you encouraged to speak your mind or to keep quiet?
What did you do when you felt fear, anger, sadness, discouragement, or when your feelings were hurt?
When you did express your feelings, did anybody listen? Did anyone care?
Look at the ways you were taught to express positive emotions such as joy, excitement, happiness and love as well as the negative emotions.Were your needs and wants respected?
What sticks out as the most painful memory?
Were you allowed to be a child, or were you expected to assume responsibilty?
Was there physical/emotional/sexual abuse in the family?
Were there family secrets you had to hold on to?
Write it all out, all of it, the resentments, the anger, the sadness. Don’t concern yourself with the good times, since these memories are not going to cause physical problems.
Write down which negative beliefs you picked up about yourself when you were a child.
Childhood Health HistoryRecord in your journal with your dominant hand , any health problems you had a a child other than the usual childhood diseases. Do you still suffer from any of them? Ask your parents if there was anything unusual happening around that time. List emotional events that coincide with the illnesses.
Have your inner child use your nondominant hand to write about their impressions of the past. Remeber we are looking for stored memories, feelings, fears, anxieties, attitudes, beliefs and emotional pain (including memories of physical or sexual abuse). Reassure your child that it is ok for them to express themselves, that you will protect and love them. Along the way if the critical parent shows up , record their comments on a separate page.
After doing this exercise, do something physical or fun to work out these emotions. Talk them out with a trusted friend or a therapist. Don’t think you have to do this alone.
Concious secrets Divide your journal page in two. List one column "Conscious secrets stored inside", label the second column "Physical aches and pains".. Divide your journal page in two. List one column "Conscious secrets stored inside", label the second column "Physical aches and pains"..
In the first column write about any secrets you have been keeping, as you do so, note how your body feels and write this down in the second column.
Other peoples secrets
Divide a new page in your journal and write "Others peoples secrets" and "Aches and pains".
Record secrets other people have asked you to hold for them or which you feel you must keep.
Notice how your body feels and record this in the other column.
Take a break and go outside and do something fun to clear yourself.
Secrets of the Inner child
Put your crayon or pencil in your nondominent hand and ask your inner child what secrets he/she is holding inside. Be patient,gentle and loving, tell them they are safe, record any critism from your inner parent.
Creating a Safe Place
When you have competed the above ask your inner child what it needs to feel safe. Do what you can to create an emotional atmosphere of safety and love in your mind.
After completing this work, sit back , take a few deep breathes and relax. Read these words to yourself:
I am an adult now.
I can protect myself.
I will not let anymore pain happen to me or my inner child.
Just sit and feel the safety of these words and their promise. Know that what you have said is true.
Record in your journal any emotions or memories that came up for you when reading over these lists. If the subject of addiction did not seem to apply to you, you might want to note how it affected someone in your life, either in the past or present. Note any thoughts you have about them. Note any techniques you have for distracting yourself or for getting away from uncomfortable feelings.
Why do Nice People get Sick?
There seems to be a strong link between illness and not being able to express ourselves.Being a nice person and helpful is great but not if it is at your own expense.You take all your energy to be there for others , depleting yourself in the process.Usually what follows depletion is illness which is often the only way you can feel cared for. Codependent people lose a sense of themselves and rely on other peoples wishes and desires to make deciscions. By fusing with someone else this way , the other persons needs and wants become more important than our own. When we are asked what we want, we really can’t say.
Codependent people have a difficult time putting themselves first because they believe that it is being selfish or self-centered, which is a no-no.Codependency is cunning because it masquarades as loving concern, selflessness, nurturing, ect. But it’s roots are buried in low self-esteem. Focusing on others first, fusing with others, feeling responsible for other peoples lives....this way of life will make you silently resentful, envious, angry, hateful and miserable, and you already know what happens to all of that negativity sitting inside your body. Read this list of the characteristics of codependency. If you find that you relate to them you may want to take an assertiveness course to learn how to say "No"!
Following is a commonly used list of characteristics of codependency.
- My good feelings about who I am stem from being liked by you
- My good feelings about who I am stem from receiving approval from you
- Your struggle affects my serenity. My mental attention focuses on solving your problems/relieving your pain
- My mental attention is focused on you
- My mental attention is focused on protecting you
- My mental attention is focused on manipulating you to do it my way
- My self-esteem is bolstered by solving your problems
- My self-esteem is bolstered by relieving your pain
- My own hobbies/interests are put to one side. My time is spent sharing your hobbies/interests
- Your clothing and personal appearance are dictated by my desires and I feel you are a reflection of me
- Your behaviour is dictated by my desires and I feel you are a reflection of me
- I am not aware of how I feel. I am aware of how you feel.
- I am not aware of what I want - I ask what you want. I am not aware - I assume
- The dreams I have for my future are linked to you
- My fear of rejection determines what I say or do
- My fear of your anger determines what I say or do
- I use giving as a way of feeling safe in our relationship
- My social circle diminishes as I involve myself with you
- I put my values aside in order to connect with you
- I value your opinion and way of doing things more than my own
- The quality of my life is in relation to the quality of yours
There is something about commiting your thoughts to paper, that makes you focus on them. You will be surprised at how once you start writing, the words just start to flow, first a trickle, then a downpour. As they used to say"let it all hang out". Getting it out of your head and putting it where you can look at it objectively will give you the tools to move forward in your life and heal old wounds.
Give your inner child a hug for me!
Did you like this post? Share it! Tweet it! "Like" Sage Advice on Facebook! Thank you, your awesome