I have kept a journal since I could write. When I was younger this process was largely helpful–my writing voice was always yearning for a positive spin. At some point, though, I lost that. This is particularly true when I am not doing well. During these times writing makes things worse. What is in my head finds no solace in being written down. If anything, the writing process escalates my dissatisfaction.
My reaction to becoming engaged (to be married) has been one filled with a lot of fear and a lot of anxiety. When I write these feelings down it only paralyzes me in even more fear. To address this, I have begun to journal in a new way for the last two weeks. I know writing can help me but I also knew that simply purging onto the page appears to have adverse effects. So, I have developed new ways to write.
I write my fear or worry down on the paper in black ink. I keep it to a sentence or two. And, leaving spaces between them, I write all of them out. Then I meditate for about ten minutes. After the meditation I choose another color of marker and respond to the fear or the worry. I imagine that I am a combination of the following: my older self talking to my younger self, my current self talking to a younger person that I love, myself as my own therapist.
It looks like this:
I am afraid that if I try to be “positive” that I am only obscuring the problems in my life.
Treating yourself well and taking time to be peaceful does not cause harm in your life. Meditating, writing and loving self talk only helps you. You know that negativity does not help because it stunts action–you cannot act in confidence when you are immersed in stress. You don’t have to be “positive” in the sense of ignoring everything–but you can find a peaceful place inside of you. Being loving and positive towards yourself and your life is the only way to find peace. From that place of peace, from that center, you can see things more clearly and then act. Negativity does not act–it is stuck. Being positive is not a cop out, it is the only way out.
I am really excited about this new method. This way, I can write no matter how I am feeling. When I can feel myself spiraling into complaining, worrying or irrational fear I can stop and use this method. It is nice because I don’t want to censor what is going on and with this method I don’t have to pretend to not be thinking or feeling a certain way. I can put it out there but then instead of just wallowing in it I can attempt to address it.
I’ve also been thinking about a podcast I’ve been listening to. It’s Oprah’s discussion of Eckart Tolle’s A New Earth. The first few chapters discuss how our thinking and our emotions can cause negativity in our lives if we allow them to take control. My nonstop worry and fear would be, in his words, my “ego.” This is the part of me who identifies totally with any and all thoughts that go through my mind. Taking all of my thoughts seriously and at face value causes stress as I create mountains out of mole hills. My emotional reaction to those would be, in his words, my “pain body.” This is the emotional part of me that is ready to over-react to any given stimulus and which remembers all pasts pains. So, instead of feeling a little bit sad about what happened on Tuesday, I take that trigger and feel the sadness of my entire life.
These ideas are easy for me to accept because I know when my anxious mind and my subsequent anxiety do not serve me at all. When I think about old journals in which I complain and make things worse–I can now see them as my “ego” and my “pain body.” Long story short: my fear & my worry as well as my emotional reactions to them are not useful in and of themselves. In fact, separating myself from that stream may be the only way for me to gain clarity.