Have you ever felt stagnant in life? Or you continually catch yourself stuck in a funk? If so, this week's blog is just right for you! We will be diving in and talking about the impact that consistent reflection can have on our lives, specifically looking at our emotional reactions to different circumstances and how that can impact our happiness....or lack there of.
You're not alone if you sometimes feel like you can just never catch a break in life or that there is always something coming up that interferes with your hopes, dreams, goals, etc., you're continually having mood swings and having a hard time snapping out of it, or the biggest one....the thought of "Why does this keep happening to me?"
If there is one thing that I had to name that I feel like has had the most impact on me throughout my personal growth journey, it would definitely be daily reflection and the action that comes from it. This has really has been a pivotal practice, not only in my life, but in the lives of many of my clients, coworkers, family members and friends. It has led to and ability to break free of a lot of negative/unwanted patterns and feelings, along with people and situations that did not serve me. (Note: this is an ongoing process that continues to evolve along with us)
When we think about our lives and the many ups and downs that we go through, we must start to think about trends. Do you catch yourself talking more negatively about your job than positively? Do you catch yourself getting irritated with your kids or significant other over small things that maybe should not elicit that strong of a reaction? Do you have relationships with family members, colleagues, or friends that just feel draining? If so, then it would probably be in your best interest to start some daily reflection and thought work in some of these areas that altogether could be bogging you down.
So, let's get into one form of reflecting that I feel like is the easiest one to start with when wanting to dive deeper into this work.....journaling.
Journaling can be a simple and smooth entry into the world of reflection. Capturing thoughts in a journal can help identify patterns in our thoughts and feelings that we may not fully realize otherwise, which is why this is one of my favorite reflection techniques that I use daily. Below you will find some tips on how to get started with what I like to refer to as Emotion-Based Journaling.
To get started, commit to 10-20 minutes a day/every other day (whatever works best for you) to set aside for journaling. Really commit to holding this time for yourself, as it will play a pivotal role in your personal growth.
Think about the different feelings you had throughout the day and jot down those feelings and the circumstances that led to those feelings. (Note: let your thoughts flow organically without judgement & note as many details as you can. After reflecting, you may realize that there was something else that led to that emotion, but don't worry about being too analytical or "perfect" when jotting your noticings down.)
After letting your thoughts flow for a bit, reread what you wrote and choose one emotion to focus on for that day (whether that be a wanted or unwanted feeling) *Feel free to do more than 1, but you don't want to overwhelm yourself at first.. Remember, small shifts lead to big change.
For a wanted feeling, we want to focus in on what exactly led to that feeling and how we can draw more of that feeling into our daily lives.
Here is an example from one of my journaling sessions: "I felt really energized and inspired after going on a walk and catching up with one of my good friends that I hadn't seen in a while."
Reflection/Action: Now this could be as simple as being more intentional about staying in touch with that friend (or others) that are energy-giving (vs. energy-sucking <--we'll get into this more in future blogs). If you wanted to take it a step further, you might dissect and think about what was it about your conversation on that walk that left you feeling energized and inspired? How can you incorporate more of that into your routine? Be intentional and right down one action step to take within the next few days (ie: get another walk scheduled in your calendar)
For an unwanted feeling, we have to dive a little bit deeper to get to the root cause.
What do you believe was the circumstance that caused this feeling?
Is this feeling a pattern that you continually feel or a new feeling that came up?
What were the thoughts running through my mind when this feeling came up?
Now that I'm out of the situation, do I have any other thoughts that come up or the same thoughts that I had in the moment?
Here is an example from one of my journaling sessions: "Today I felt really drained and upset as I read several negative comments on the local news feed about teachers, accusing them of being lazy and not caring about their students." I noticed that I immediately wanted to respond to these comments to tell them that this is the farthest thing from the truth, but also battling with myself and these thoughts and I was thinking that it won't even matter...they will think what they think and is that worth my energy to get into a FB battle at 6am to start my day? ...definitely not. So, what I did decide after reflecting on this feeling and the fact that it ended up lingering until mid morning and sabotaging my whole mood, was that starting my day with social media surfing was not serving me in the slightest...and actually had been a pretty detrimental habit that I started over quarantine. So instead, I now prioritize healthier options to start the day, such as: reading, affirmation writing (for this specific reflection, I may write them specifically about myself as a teacher), listening to my favorite podcast, going for a walk with my son, sipping my morning energy or working out. Such a simple shift that has made a substantial impact in my life.
Now, this is just one simple journaling exercise to help start developing a more reflective mind. As time passes and you continue to work on reflecting, you will become more cognisant of your feelings, thoughts, circumstances and will start to more quickly recognize what is serving you and what needs some tweaking.
If you're feeling like you'd like to explore this more with some guidance along the way, feel free to reach out to me and we can work together through the specifics of what's really going on in your life and how to ensure that you are adding in more of what brings about those wanted feelings in your life, while minimizing the unwanted feelings that continue to come up.
As always, PEACE, LOVE & HAPPINESS.
Until next time!