Monday, 29 January 2018

Positive you Jurnal Part 2

Step 2 - Act Like the Positive You Plan

Start treating Yourself like as someone deserving of fun and recognition of our achievements or instead do you neglect yourself and withdraw from life? Experiencing enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment are an important part of everyday experience, which makes us feel good about ourselves and our lives. Treating yourself well will start seeing yourself in a more balanced and accepting light.

  • The first step to changing the way you treat yourself is to first observe your current life style.  Keep a record for a week or two of the activities you engage in each day and then rate the sense of pleasure and achievement (0-10) that you get from doing that activity. When you have done this, reflect on your schedule. what do you make of it?
  • When doing this activity it is important to remember that we are not talking about the big stuff but the everyday things that you find rewarding.  eg cooking a nice meal, doing some gardening,, going to the gym. By observing how your week is currently you will start to recognise your accomplishments and achievements and determine if you need to inject more activities into you life.
  • Once you have a good sense of what you week looks like you can determine what you would like to change.  In your Journal create a list of activities you would find fun and rewarding.  Each week choose two or three activities from the list. Plan ahead which activity you will do, when you will do it(date) and record your sense of pleasure and achievement BEFORE and AFTER each activity. this will let you know if the activity has been helpful. 
Remember that it takes a long time for an oyster to make a pearl from a grain of sand - so be like an oyster and start small.  In the beginning, the important thing is not what you do or how much you do, but simply the fact that your are DOING. Action is the first step, not motivation.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Positive You Journal - Coach Your Inner Critic

If you say you hear voices in your  head the general population think you are going mad.  But hey - that just is not the case. I think we all have different thoughts and voices swirling around in our heads at different times or what you might call "the committee”. I know I certainly do. And just like any committee or board of directors they occasionally call a meeting. All with different roles and profiles.  My board's regular members include - the critic, the coach, the child, the mother and the teacher.  there are also the fly in like adventurer, know- it -all and whiner. The voice that speaks the loudest and clearest is the chairperson of the board. Do you have a committee in your head and who are it's members? Who are you allowing to be the Chairperson?

Another way to look at though is to recognise that the inner voices arose as a protective mechanism to help us feel safe and happy.  tThe voices are usually operating under the premise that they are trying to protect you. One of the first steps to eliminating self-judgments and chatter is recognize you have the power, as Chairperson, to take charge of the committee and allow the voices of reason to put forward their point of view.  Heres how...

Coaching the Inner Critic

Disputing the "little devil on our shoulder" or the "inner critic"or 'the monster" is something everyone has had to battle with at some time in their life.  But for some it is a constant war when the "wee voice" in our head just keeps on saying negative things and just keeps on winning. But the inner critic is not always right - it just thinks it is.

It is time to turn the tables and encourage the Inner Coach" to challenge the 'Wee voice's" perception - it is by the way just a 'WEE voice" - and generate a new perspective on an old issue. 
A. Challenge Your Thoughts - Think about the times you have felt down about yourself - write these thoughts down. What have you been thinking? What were you doing at the time? What happened as a result?

Example: I was meant to go out to the social club. I started thinking about it and theses thoughts kept circling around in my head - "I've got nothing to wear that I look good in.  I'm not good at socialising. I can't make small talk with random people who are not really interested in me anyway". So I decided not to go out in the end. I stayed home and spent the evening alone in front of the tele feeling miserable. 

Now Ask Yourself - Let the Inner Coach have a chat with the Inner Critic. 

  • What evidence do I have to support or refute what I am thinking?What would my closest friend say to me now? What would I say if my closest friend was thinking this?What is the worst thing that could happen? What point of view seems more reasonable?
Inner Critic:  "I can't make small talk" 
Coach: "What constitutes small talk?"
Inner Critic: "Polite conversation about unimportant or uncontroversial matters"
Coach: "For example!"
Inner Critic: "Latest fashion, celebrity news, current TV shows or movies. That sort of stuff"
Coach: What knowledge do you have of this stuff? 
Inner Critic: I like watching new movie releases, watch a lot of TV and read widely.  So I guess I could carry a conversation about some of those topics if I had too. 

C. Positive Self - Talk
Create a list of positive phrases that you can quickly refer to to ease the doubts in our head.  Examples include : "Give it a go". "I can do this".  Keep referring back to your positive qualities list for motivation.
After using the phrases record in your Journal what happened.

D: Seek the support of professionals: If you feel that your current level of self esteem is impacting on your metal health.

Note: If the Inner Critic is putting on a tantrum about being challenged, and by that I mean getting even nastier and more persistent then perhaps you can put him/her in "time out" for awhile.  Write out everything the Inner Critic is saying on a blank piece of paper.  Then on the bottom write I'll get back to you on that and put it in an envelope in the back of your Journal.  Later when you feel less agitated/stressed, take out the paper and respond to the comments. 

I love being crafty in my creative Journal so I added a old dungeon and a knight in shinning Armour to keep guard over my "Inner Critic" to keep him in check while I got on with a few of the more important things in my day.  When I get the time and feel strong enough I will confront him with my Inner coach. 

Another strategy is to draw your inner critic - as a little monster - it takes the sting out of the negativity. It's a bit like imagining your audience naked when you have to give a speech so it's not so intimidating.  I'd love to see how you depict your inner critic.   

Part 1- Where to Begin

Part 2  - Embrace Yourself 

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Positive You Journal - Part 1

"Mirror, mirror on the wall 

who is the Fairest of them all"
                                                                                         Queen Grimhilde
Queen Grimhilde, better known as Snow Whites Wicked Stepmother or Evil Queen, obvious had some self-esteem issues.  The Evil Queen could not see her own beauty in the mirror, only the face of the Mage (genie). She constantly required confirmation from an external source (the magic mirror) of her fairness. In addition, asking the mirror also required a comparison with every other person in the Kingdom.  Just imagine how the story might have been if Queen Grimhilde was a self confident, self assured individual.  She would have only looked in the mirror to admire her good grooming and confirm that she was indeed well presented.  She would have known  that comparing yourself to others is a 'slippery slope" and of little benefit in building positive relationships with others (leads to envy, jealousy and negativity) and with yourself.

Note: Admittedly the Evil Queen had a few other serious issues beside low self esteem but bear with me for awhile longer please.I am getting to the point soon. It's just my story teller side getting the better of me here.

So the big QUESTION - Do you have the Queen Grimhilde complex? - Low self-esteem

I recently wrote  a post about the importance of a having a positive self -concept to being fulfilled and successful. In that post I did not examine or disuses how to combat negative self-esteem but focused  on what actions an individual might take to "pump up" or boost their self-esteem.  Another path that I'd like to explore today is the idea of promoting a balanced evaluation of yourself.  This means noticing and acknowledging our positive attributes and behaving like a confident self assured individual..

So to get a starting point, I'd like to encourage you to jot down a few of your positive qualities in your journal, and then read on. Some of the ones I have listed are: a good friend, able to see someones alternative view point, prepared to share possessions and a good sense of humour.

How easy was that for you?  Some of you may have really struggled to bring something to mind while others may have already written a full page. If you struggled, then perhaps you have a tendency to only pay attention to negative things that confirm a negative view of yourself or you rarely pay attention to the positive things you say or do or the positive comments you receive from others. While doing this activity did you feel anxiety, shame, uneasiness, sadness, fear? Did you think "What could I possibly write?""I have noting worth writing down". Other people might have less trouble recalling positive things about themselves but felt uncomfortable thinking or writing about them because they consider it as being conceited, arrogant or stuck up to think about such things. Do  any of these sound familiar to you?

A positive self concept and respect are important for a healthy and happy relationship, not only with others but also with yourself.  "If you have low self-esteem, true respect for another is difficult to manage because you are always going to making an inner comparison between yourself an another person - possibly with a twinge of envy. You might even find yourself reacting against the positive qualities your partner shows by belittling them in some way - either openly or just in your own mind", says Mary Jaksch, a relationship counsellor and author of ALL About Love.  She suggests that a  healthy sense of self worth provides you with a clearer perspective of your own and others views and behaviour.

Positive Qualities Journal?
If you struggled with the above activity or just want to improve your self esteem then I suggest keeping a Positive You Journal where you record all your  positive qualities. You can then use this Journal as a safety net and refer to this list when you feel yourself sliding into a negative mindset.

I suggest you purchase a Journal (or make one for yourself - I"ll be posting a blog on this shortly) purely for recording your positive qualities.  The Journal  will be a safe place for you to think about and then list all the positive aspects of yourself - all your good characteristics, strengths, talents and achievements.

This is the first of 3 posts on this topic and I hope you will join me on a journey of discovery - Positively Positive Me.

Write a list of your Positive Qualities.

  1. To help you make a list of your positive qualities I have included the following Journal prompts:

    • What do I like about who I am?
    • What characteristics do I have that are positive?
    • What are some of my achievements - things I am proud of doing?
    • What are some of the challenges I have overcome?
    • What are some of the skills or talents that I  have?
    • What do others say they like abut me?
    • What are some attributes I like  in others that I also have in common with them
    • How might someone who cares about me describe me?
Remember to include everything. Don't judge that it is too small, insignificant, modest or unimportant.

 3.After you have added everything your list might look like mine or completely different. Remember we are all individuals with different positive qualities. I am adding mine just as an example.

considerate       good listener     helpful      reliable      good humured            fun        health conscious         animal lover      resourceful        adventurous               lovable       a good friend      avid reader       politically conscious    charitable    creative    artistic   active    outdoors person  strong willed  friendly                  responsible  determined      organised           appreciative               goal orientated       dedicated parent

4. For each positive quality you have written recall a specific example that illustrates that quality. Try to list as many as possible.  This way you will make each attribute you have written not just meaningless words on a page. Instead each attribute will become real, specific and a detailed memory of something that actually happened.

So for example:

  •   I sent my friend a get well card when she was sick good friend  
  •  When my friend was feeling upset and needed someone to talk to, I made time to take her                              for coffee (even though it was inconvenient for me).
  •  Baby sat my friends child when she needed to go away for work.

5. Up to now we have spent some time recalling past examples of positive qualities/behaviours/actions.  It is now time to turn to the present and acknowledge and recognise these attributes on a daily basis.  This will be an ongoing activity that will help you build a picture of who you are in the NOW.  For each day, set out to record three examples from your day that illustrate some of your positive qualities. Record exactly what you did and identify the attribute. Here is an example:

Day/Date        Things I Did                   Positive Attribute
Thursday         Played with the kids       Fun to be with
05/10/2016     Coffee with a friend       Good Friend
                       Went for a walk             Active/Outdoor

Start by noticing 1-actions per day, but try to build up form there, increasing it to 4,5 or 6. If you hear your 'gremlin" (that is, your negative self-belief) whispering critical remarks into your ear, flick this destructive creature off your shoulder). Review your list and say to the Gremlin - "so there".

6. Bonus Activity - Note down the moments when your partner's qualities shine through and remember that their character traits and skills are your treasures also.  Keep a record every time you see these qualities working  on your behalf. Congratulate your partner for every display of good quality: Make them aware of your appreciation. After reading "the Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman I have been giving my husband a Love note once a week to thank him for a courtesy he has shown me.  Showing my appreciation has helped me realise how much I have taken him for granted over the years.  If You try this activity I'd love to hear what impact if any it has on you or your relationship. 

I suggest that you set aside a special time to commit to the tasks in this post. Don't do them on the run, or while you are doing other things. Give it the due attention and time it deserves.  Journaling has a way of bring issues previously buried to the forefront of our minds and can be quite challenging to deal with on our own.  If any of the activities bring up issues for you please seek professional help.

Positive You Journal - Part 2 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Journaling's Journey - History of the Journal

“The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.” ―J.M. Barrie (Author of Peter Pan)

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When my husband’s aunt Beryl died several years ago she left him a blanket box full of photo albums, letters, journals and diaries she had kept from the years of her service as a missionary. Jim was her God-child, but had never really had the opportunity to spend any time with her.   I had only met her briefly on a couple of occasions – so knew very little about her.  After some years of contemplating what to do with all this material, besides allowing it to take up space in my sun-room or become dust to silverfish, I decided I would read through her treasure box.  And it was a treasure – a store of information that led me to uncover a life lived to the full – with love, adventure, joy, sadness, regret – the complete human condition.  I was amazed to learn that this gentle, English woman of faith had been a brave adventuress, living in remote parts of both Africa and India at a time when most women were expected to marry and have children.  Her writing captivated me, as it painted such a clear picture of her life and allowed me to glimpse a Beryl I had never imagined existed – A young and vibrant woman with an uncanny sense of humour and the ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. A woman of many facets.

Within her documents I was surprised to find that Beryl had always intended to write her life story during her retirement years. She had even drafted an outline for each chapter, starting with her childhood and finishing with her last furlong as a missionary teacher in India.  After discussions with Jim, and her remaining siblings, I decided to write her biography from her personal journals, interviews with family and friends and my good mate Google to fill the background information of significant events etc.  It culminated in “Journey of Faith” – the Beryl House Story. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to have a glimpse of a life well lived.

Personal documents have been written since the beginning of written language. In fact, recorded history is in many ways a journal – someone’s impressions, thoughts, ideas and feelings about events.  Both historical and literary books are often reconstructed accounts from documents such as ship logs, diaries, letters and journals. As was the case with my booklet - “Journey of Faith”.

So how did Journaling come about? Here's the story so far...

The Journals Journey

  •  As far back as 56 C.E., in China, journals were written and then archived as historical documents.
  • In the West, during the Renaissance when the image of the self-became important, Augustine of Hippo (a Fourth Century bishop and theologian) is credited with having invented the literary genre of autobiography. He wrote the classic work, Confessions, which documents his own religious conversion and growth in Christian spirituality.
  • In tenth-century Japan Heian court ladies kept the pillow book (so named because it was placed in the bed chamber or perhaps in drawers of wooden pillows). These records incorporated factual accounts, dreams, fantasies, and poetry.
  • Japanese also kept travel diaries which were mainly comprised of poetry.
  • In contrast, the western travel diary (which came much later) was primarily a narrative stressing what the traveller has done and seen.  Examples include the ship log books of James Cook and William Bligh, whose reports were later published, and gave an concise account of their adventure (chain of command, navigational insights and other facts).
  • Samuel Pepys’ diary, written between 1660 – 1669, was possibly the first known diary. He not only recorded current events, but described the people he met and his impressions of them, the local gossip and the other minute details of his daily life.  Entries were characterized by immediacy and self-reflection.
  • During the French Revolution (19th Century) diaries were referred to as “journals in time.”  The Journal focused more on "self", with an inward focus on confession and passion. The “journal in time” provided the author an outlet to explore/question traditional values, existing literary forms, government, and even the relationship between the sexes.
  • Over the past 100 years, as writing has become a more universal skill, journal writing had taken hold as a common practice among both professional and non-professional writers. 
  • During the 1960s and early 1970s, journaling came into its own as a tool to be used more widely.  In the fields of psychology and psychotherapy, journal based writing was (and still is) used as a part of therapeutic treatment, encouraging people to look inside themselves, to analyze and document behaviours and feelings, and to explore dreams while the Women’s Movement encouraged personal writing as a way for women to achieve power and voice.
  •  In 1980’s, personal journal writing had been linked to creativity, expansion of consciousness, and the deepening of spiritual awareness and growth.
    My Art Journal
  • Diaries, in today's world, are also used in both formal and informal learning situations and include dream logs, autobiographies, spiritual journals, theory logs, and interactive reading diaries.
  •  In the  21st Century  journals are used to record our creative processes (art journals), vacations, our goals, genealogy and much more.

Like the journals of history and The Beryl House Story, we should think of our journals as a way for future generations to see what we were struggling with at the time and to know that their dilemmas are not too far removed from ours.  So put pen to paper, and document your own “inner and outer” world (for your own personal learning and growth) and as an everlasting memorial for future generations to mull over and possible glean an understanding of what life was like then, and just maybe, use to make significant changes to their own life.

Do you have a dairy that belonged to a relative or significant other that documents significant historical events or personal revelations?  What impact/influence has reading these accounts had on you? I’d love to hear from you and your story.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Journaling - A Healthy Habit

Does mention of the word “journaling” conjurers up images of old aunts, arty types and those awkward adolescent years? Or do you immediately think of work related activities such as diary entries and field notes – a necessary evil associated with keeping the boss happy? If you work in the human service sector or are a teacher or a nurse you will know what I mean.   

For me journaling is second nature.  Over the past 30 years I have kept the following journal:
  • Work journal when employed in the human services sector
  • Daily diary
  • Various Travel journals
  • Weight loss and food diary journal
  • Pregnancy journal
  • Family history report
  • And many more

 But for most people in today’s busy world, they only record what you must.  In an effort to change this habit/mindset I’d like to share some recent research on the health benefits of documenting our thoughts and feelings.   It has made me glad I take time out each day to journal – I may be able to skip the gym a couple of times a week and journal instead (hahaha).  

Physical and Emotional Health
James W. Pennebaker, a lead researcher on expressive writing at the University of Texas at Austin, has found that when we translate an experience or secret into language by writing it down, we essentially make the experience graspable. "Emotional upheavals touch every part of our lives," Pennebaker has been quoted as saying. "You don't just lose a job, you don't just get divorced. These things affect all aspects of who we are — our financial situation, our relationships with others, our views of ourselves. ... Writing helps us focus and organize the experience."  Writing about these traumatic events/situations can uplift both your mind and body and alleviate the negative effects of stress on the body.

According to Pennebaker, it’s also been proven to strengthen the immune system’s cells. Not only does writing make you less likely to get sick, it also increases chances of fighting specific diseases like asthma, AIDS and cancer. 

It can even make physical wounds heal faster. A study from 2013 found that 76% of adults who spent 20 minutes writing about their thoughts and feelings for three consecutive days two weeks before a medically necessary biopsy were fully healed 11 days later. Meanwhile, 58% of the control group had not recovered. 
The study concluded that even one hour of writing about distressing events helped participants make sense of the events and reduce distress. Since starting this blog post I’ve become aware there's a Center for Journal Therapy dedicated to the mental health benefits of regular journaling, both in therapeutic and personal settings

Another 2005 study found that the kind of "expressive writing" often connected with journaling is especially therapeutic. The study found that participants who wrote about traumatic, stressful or emotional events were significantly less likely to get sick, and were ultimately less seriously affected by trauma, than their non-journaling counterparts. It doesn't take a big time commitment to reap the benefits of journaling. Expressive writing for 15 to 20 minutes a day three to five times over the course of a four-month period was enough to lower blood pressure and have better liver functionality. 

Studies have also shown that the emotional release from journaling lowers anxiety, stress, and induces better sleep.

If that hasn’t convinced you then you can find additional longer term benefits of expressive writing at

Improves Language Skills – and improves the IQ
 A report by the University of Victoria noted that “Writing as part of language learning has a positive correlation with intelligence.” The report goes on to say, “One of the best single measures of overall intelligence as measured by intelligence tests is vocabulary.” Journal writing provides a safe place to experiment with new words and thus build our language skills.  In addition according to a Stanford report, “Writing has critical connections to speaking”.  That’s probably why teachers (part of curriculum)  now encourage students as young as 8 years old to journal.

According to neurologist and teacher, Judy  Willis, regular writing can help you learn to process and communicate complex ideas effectively. The practice of writing can enhance the brain's intake, processing, retaining, and retrieving of information. Through writing, students can increase their comfort with and success in understanding complex material, unfamiliar concepts, and subject-specific vocabulary. When writing is embedded throughout the curriculum, it promotes the brain's attentive focus to classwork and homework, boosts long-term memory, illuminates patterns, gives the brain time for reflection, and when well-guided, is a source of conceptual development and stimulus of the brain's highest cognition.

Harness Your Creativity – not just for arty types
Journaling is a great tool for unlocking creativity amongst anyone and everyone. In fact, this study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine used writing as a treatment for HIV patients found that writing resulted in “improvements of CD4+ lymphocyte counts.” That’s the fancy way of saying: the act of writing actually impacted the cells inside the patient’s body and improved their immune system. In other words, the process of journaling doesn’t just make you feel better, it also creates real, physical changes inside your body.

In our always–on, always–connected world of television, social media, and on–demand everything, it can be stupidly easy to spend your entire day consuming information and simply responding to all of the inputs that bombard your life.

Practical Benefits – Yes men can do it too
  •  Keeping a journal can serve to document your achievements (and mistakes)
  • Provides and account of your day (yes I did get that done)
  •  Keeps track of your goals and your progress towards achieving them
  • Allows you to pick out patterns of behaviour/thoughts
  •  Builds confidence as you look back over what you have achieved
  •  Strengthens self-discipline committing to writing in your journal daily
  • Writing about problems provides an opportunity to explore unexpected solutions and see   alternative viewpoints.
  • Get to know yourself better and provide future generations with an insight into you personally.

 Press the PAUSE button and “take a break” from all the incoming signals of the modern world. Open a blank document and start typing. Put pen to paper and write without thinking — “stream of consciousness” writing. Express yourself in some way. Your health and happiness will improve and we’ll all be better off for it.

Thank You for taking the time to read my post.  I hope it has inspired you to commit some of your thoughts to paper.  If you are already a journal junky or been converted then I’d love to hear your thoughts on the benefits of writing your thoughts and feelings.