...and how do I fit it into my busy day? Invest 10 minutes in yourself and explore these questions with me.
Curious about why you should start a journal writing practice? In less than 10 minutes, I share a few examples of how I've used my journal, and three benefits I've experienced as a result. This is the first in a series of short videos I'll be sharing about the practice of journal writing. This video covers the why, and in future videos I'll share the what, where, when, how, and even the 'who' of journaling. Please comment below with your questions or challenges relating to journaling and I'll incorporate them into future videos!
Sometimes I go mining through old journals to see where I've been, how I've grown through life experiences and difficulties, and to observe patterns over time. Life offers many opportunities for us to learn the most valuable lessons and it's up to us to choose the path of learning and insight. For a long time, my choice was to blame other people for my unhappiness, refusing to see how I was creating it myself. I embraced the role of victim and was addicted to my misery. I kept saying I wanted to be happy, but I wasn't doing much of anything to allow happiness into my life. Instead, I counted all the ways people did me wrong and I carried around a lot of grudges and unforgiveness.
When I decided I was ready to let go of all that heavy baggage, I agreed to let Life show me what I most needed to learn. I was then gifted with a number of people who pushed my buttons and many challenging situations to struggle through. In my journal, I wrote about what and who triggered me, but rather than just blaming the others involved and letting emotions like irritation and anger permeate my writing, I started using a more self-reflective approach, exploring the source of my emotions and what they were exposing about myself. Then I started to see how all that *inside stuff* was directly impacting my reactions with others, often in negative and unhelpful ways.
Using my journal to reflect on this over time helped me see how much I needed to heal within myself. The more I see, the more I heal, and the the more I heal, the easier it becomes to handle challenging situations and interactions with others in a healthier way. The life lessons we most need to learn will keep resurfacing until we see what we need to see about *ourselves* and open up to healing old beliefs, attachments and wounds, even when it feels vulnerable or scary to do so.
Presence. As a recovering perfection-seeking, people-pleasing over-achiever, I did everything quickly so I could check it off the list and move on to the next thing. I wasn't fully present with myself, my life, or the people in it. I numbed my feelings by over-consuming food, purchases, and sometimes alcohol. Though I was trying to numb the pain, I ended up numbing feelings of joy and love instead.
A huge lesson I needed to learn was that in order to feel fully alive and really enjoy life, I needed to become more present. For me, that meant learning to slow down and moving at my own pace. I chose to completely cut out alcohol for awhile, I'm learning to eat from a place of awareness rather than emotion, and I stopped binge shopping. I'm learning to be more present with myself, too. When I chose to stop numbing, I started experiencing a lot of strong emotions. Now when they emerge, rather than trying to escape them, I let myself feel them and inquire into their source. I explore what I truly need in that moment to support myself. I'm turning to healthy self care practices such as journaling, meditation, and nature. I pay attention to the little things, noticing even the smallest sources of delight.
This has been a huge shift in how I approach my life. Going through the process of unlearning and relearning, most things felt harder and took longer. Change is hard and personal transformation can feel downright terrifying. Along the way, I often felt lost, confused, and alone. But by sticking with it and allowing myself to evolve, I'm releasing that which no longer serves me, including old beliefs, fears, and patterns of behavior. I'm stepping into my true essence and am allowing the blessings of true joy into my life. I now feel deep gratitude for even the most difficult life lessons because going through each one taught me more about myself and made me stronger, preparing me for all the good that's yet to come.
For highly sensitive people, everyday life experiences can feel like a huge struggle. Little things that don't bother other people can completely overwhelm us. (Jenn Granneman)
How true this has been for me! I carry embarrassment and shame about how I've reacted to various situations when feeling overwhelmed. At first, my strong and very negative reactions were because I didn't know I was highly sensitive and I didn't understand what I was feeling or why I was feeling that way. I just knew there was discomfort and I reacted with any defense mechanism that was within reach.
As I learned about and explored my sensitivity, I started to practice responding differently to situations. Instead of lashing out, for example, I'm practicing speaking up about what I need, or what is making me feel overwhelmed. If I feel unrealistic demands have been placed on me, I say why it's challenging and offer up an alternative that's more realistic. If I'm feeling overstimulated, I'll remove myself from the situation if I can, or figure out what I need in that moment to reduce the stimulation.
Some days I get through the hard stuff feeling pretty good about how I handled everything. Other days, not so much. I've noticed when I'm tired or hungry, it's harder to respond thoughtfully. And some days, things happen in such rapid succession that I don't even realize I'm overwhelmed until after I've lashed out.
Learning to live with my sensitivity has been very challenging, and I've learned that I can't use it to excuse away hurtful behavior. The more I understand it, the easier it becomes to work with it and integrate it in more helpful ways. I still make a lot of mistakes, reacting from the place of my strong emotions rather than pausing and choosing a more helpful response. But I'm quicker to notice it, apologize, and move forward more productively. I'm learning to be more compassionate and forgiving of myself, too. 💜
I read awhile back that once we decide we're ready to learn how to *really* love ourself, the universe will conspire to help us. We'll encounter all kinds of experiences, circumstances, and people that will help us see all the ways we are not. We'll be forced to examine what's going on inside our mind and our heart and study our reactions to the situations we experience and the people we interact with. We'll have to face all the old stories we believe about our worth and our lovability. We'll come to see how self-critical and self-judgmental we are. We'll see all the ways we hold ourself back and sabotage our own joy.
We'll be invited to look at every obstacle and challenge as a lesson in self love. We'll be asked to explore our choices and actions and inquire how we could love ourself better with different choices. We'll be encouraged to discover our own truth and listen to our inner guidance. We'll be invited to take better care of our mind, body and soul, to discover our true needs, to set boundaries and stand up for ourself. After years of not doing this well, it'll feel really hard, selfish even. We'll worry about what people will think and we'll fear pissing people off.
This kind of deep personal transformation is challenging for anyone. Letting go of old behavior patterns, old beliefs and stories, and old ways of thinking about ourself is hard. We're losing the very identity we spent our whole life creating. But when you're a highly sensitive person, it can feel excruciating. We may not know what to do with the strong waves of emotion we feel. While we're in it, we need to practice self-appreciation, self-compassion and self-kindness. When we come through the other side, we can look back and see what we learned and how we've evolved. Learning to love ourself is a continual practice. Sometimes we'll do it really well and sometimes we'll fail miserably. But we'll try again. Because we *are* worth it.
I've been in a bit of a slump lately regarding my work. After a lot of reflection and journaling, I discovered that I've been holding back and playing it safe. There is some stuff I've been doing that doesn't light me up the way it used to. And I was having a hard time with the idea of letting it go because I feel like I *should* continue doing it. We're taught not to quit.
But, one of the first things I learned as a coach (which I still struggle with on occasion) was that we have to stop "shoulding" all over ourselves. We need to release the things we do only because we're worried about what other people think or because we're trying to meet other people's expectations. We need to do what's right for us. And sometimes that means quitting.
This morning I took a little "time out" and facilitated myself through an intense visioning session to get clear on what I *do* want. I have a desire to more fully integrate my passions into my work and I included those ideas into my vision. Just writing it all down and claiming it was both freeing and empowering. Now I'm standing in my home office, feeling energized and inspired!
So my encouragement to you is this: pay attention to how you feel about the stuff you do. If something isn't making your heart sing anymore, can you let it go? Explore what you *do* want. Write it down. Feeeeel the excitement. Then do something, even if it's a baby step, to move your vision forward! We are the author of our own life and if a chapter isn't working, we can rewrite it!
Lately, I've been paying attention to the areas of my life for which I feel less energy and lower excitement than usual. Usually when this happens, I try to analyze or think my way into an answer. We're generally solution-driven people. We want the answers so we can just get on with it already. But sometimes, Life wants us to slow down, to wait, to go with the flow and to let things emerge naturally. And it's challenging to do that when we're used to taking action. We want answers!
This time, instead of pushing for answers and taking swift action, I've been just noticing and observing for awhile...paying attention to what specifically energizes me and what it is that's draining me or causing low motivation. I've spent a good portion of my day today just softening into a new level of receptivity, being open to what I'm noticing, how I'm feeling, and allowing the meaning behind those feelings to sink in. I've kept my journal close by and every now and again, do a little writing to support the new awareness that's brewing.
By allowing this space and time and letting things emerge naturally over the last couple of weeks, I've come to a level of clarity today that I wouldn't have reached otherwise.
Somewhere inside us, the answer is waiting. Waiting for us to slow down enough to be *able* to hear it and waiting for us to be *ready* to hear it. We need to be okay with *not knowing* for awhile. Because if we *think* our way into an answer, we'll likely miss or dismiss the truth. Slow down. Stay open. Pay attention. Be receptive.
My home office. My creative space. My sacred space. With this being a multipurpose room, I had previously partitioned off separate sections with furniture and plants. Good intentions, but I had been feeling cramped and blocked in here. It looked busy and felt heavy and tight. I moved my desk against the wall and shuffled several small tables and bigger plants. Now I and the energy can move freely around the room. This is important because my creativity, my spirituality, and my work are inter-connected and I want the energy to flow freely among them. I often physically move among the different areas throughout my day as well. If I'm feeling blocked in my work, I might get up and do a little journaling, meditation, or art making. Or sometimes I'm making art or journaling and get an idea for my business that I want to capture. This new design will facilitate that free movement.
I removed 2 pieces of furniture that weren't visually appealing or providing the functionality I needed, an awkward bookshelf and the card table I was using for art, and ordered replacements for both. Aesthetics are important in a space too, because if I hate to look at a piece of furniture, whether I'm aware of it or not, it creates negative feelings everytime I am in the room which blocks the positive energy.
Our home should be our sanctuary, a sacred place where we relax and rejuvenate. And if it's not providing that, then change is needed. I notice that I'm already feeling lighter when I walk in here. If you have a space in your home that's not working for you, take a step back and notice what it is that's not working. What do you need the space to provide? How do you want to use the space? How do you want to feel in the space? What small changes can you make to improve functionality, flow, or aesthetics?
Sometimes weekends are busy, but don't forget to take care of you this weekend! I'll be working much of this weekend so I can move a project forward, but I'll still make room for self-care. I'm starting this morning with my coffee and my journal and am looking forward to a long walk later (and tomorrow too). I've got a massage scheduled for tomorrow and there will be a bubble bath or two this weekend. I'm also hoping to make a little time for creative expression and get my paints back out. All these little things are nourishment for my heart and soul and help me get through a busy weekend feeling more calm and centered. What is it that helps you feel calm and centered? Self-care practices needn't be complicated, sometimes the smallest things can help us reconnect with our heart and center back in on our self. What does self-care look like for you?