For the longest time, I struggled with a negative mindset. I constantly told myself what could go wrong would go wrong. And, I was usually right. When things did go well, I believed that it was luck or someone stepped up to help, or hey, maybe it was Halloween and reality was wearing a mask.
The problem was that I was in denial, in denial of what could go right, that things could be positive and that life should be better. Then something powerful helped change everything for the better!
I was at the end of my proverbial rope and I needed help. I had struggled so much, for so long and had fallen so low. I was in my late twenties, with so much of my life still ahead of me, but it was being wasted with a perception of myself that was self-defeating.
I finally crashed!
It was only then that I listened to others and finally sought the help of a professional therapist. The story can be read in my book, but for this post, I want to talk about one of two assignments he gave me.
One was to write a personal account of my life and the other was to start another journal detailing positive things about me and my life. He instructed me to write in the positive journal every day, regardless of how I felt.
But living the life I had it was very difficult for me to see any positives, to somehow be optimistic and so the concept of this journal seemed fake to me. A loose band-aid, if you will.
In reality, the positive journal changed my life.
This is what I did:
- I purchased a regular loose leaf notebook, nothing special.
- Every night before going to sleep I would write something positive about that day, what I had accomplished and something I looked forward to the next day.
It wasn’t easy at first because it was very difficult to get myself to focus on positives.
We all have negative, doubtful thoughts, but with me, they ruled and became stronger, louder once I started writing to counter them. “No, that can’t be, it’ll flip tomorrow and you’ll still suck!” – Believe me, I came up with some doozy excuses!
Denial can be extremely difficult to overcome, so it was good to see my therapist regularly at the time.
I stuck with the journal and discovered that a great many positive things did happen every day. Most seemed small, but I came to realize that none were insignificant.
This assignment also helped me understand something just as important:
What a self-fulfilling prophecy is.
When I focused on the negatives, I drew them to me like moths to a flame, but the exact same thing held true for positives. By focusing on positives I attracted them to me by my actions, my body language and finally even with my everyday speech and, of course, where it had started, with my writing.
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits was that journal writing reignited a love for writing that I had thought was lost forever.
Those are just a few of the reasons I recommend writing a positive journal and as I update this blog I’ll be sure to post more on this subject.
If you are interested, here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Start out by listing two or three things that happened during your day that were positive. Reflect on and accept them.
- Write two or three things you are looking forward to the next day. These are not things that must happen, simply things you are looking forward to. Try not to pressure yourself.
- Write about good things people have said and/or done for you. Then write good things you would like to do for others, not necessarily ‘in return’, but rather merely for the sake of doing them. Try to keep this as simple as possible at first, no need to overwhelm.
- As your journal grows I suspect your writing will become longer, more detailed as you ‘see’ more positives in your life and I recommend allowing this to happen. Who knows this may compel you to write your life story as a book, which is what happened with my other assignment. And, if I am honest, this assignment did become a major part of my book Writer’s Doubt as well (If you haven’t read it yet, I talk more about journaling in it and I hope you come back here and share your experiences journaling with me, too).
- Finally, try your best to incorporate this positive journal into your daily routine, perhaps at the same time and same place every day.
If you decide to start a journal or already have one, I’d love to hear about it.
Any suggestions / experience writing a daily journal? Share in the comments below.