Do you have trouble recognizing your emotions? Have you noticed feeling like your emotions are “out of control”? Maybe you’re like me and prefer not to bring up the subject at all. I don’t even like emoticons; I feel like they mock me. Hiding from your emotions isn’t the answer, however. Unacknowledged emotions become trapped in the body, resulting in mental as well as physical illnesses. Emotional Baggage is one of the leading causes of disease today. Learn how to journal your emotions for true healing and well-being.
Most people have the idea that emotions “just happen to them” as if they have no control over them. Or they think circumstances dictate their emotions. They’ve learned to outsource their emotions to people in their lives, making others responsible for their emotions. This creates a dysfunctional relationship with their own emotions and people in their lives. An unpleasant result that leads to many internal open wounds. That’s why today, I chose to teach you how to journal your emotions for true healing.
Attempting to journal your emotions will not be effective without first understanding a few things about emotions. The whole journaling process will teach you plenty about how you create and process emotions. Additionally, having a basic knowledge of some common misconceptions about emotions, will prove invaluable in your journey to healing.
Emotions are a huge subject and you’ll never begin to journal your emotions for true healing if I attempt to exhaust that topic! I will briefly cover three common areas that impact emotions that most people do not understand. Emotional outsourcing, thoughts create emotions and emotional denial all impact our emotions in different ways.
The definition of “outsource” is to obtain goods or services from an outside or foreign supplier; especially in place of an internal source. If you “outsource” your emotions you give the responsibility for your emotions to someone or something outside of you. Examples of this would be saying “If my kids would just behave, I would feel less stressed”. Have you ever said something like, “If I could find a nicer house/apt, I would be happy”? If you find you make statements like these, you are outsourcing your emotions. If you need someone to act a certain way or for a certain situation to exist in your life for you to be “OK”; you are allowing those things to control you. Only you are responsible for your own emotions.
“True healing will always begin with your thoughts. Master your thoughts and you will master your life.”April Peerless
Thoughts create emotions
I’m constantly shocked by how many people do not realize they’re creating negative emotions by the thoughts they allow to take up space in their minds. Consider, if you spend an entire day thinking about not having enough money to pay your bills, that your house is too small, that you don’t have enough nice clothes or that you’ll never get a job you love, what will you feel at the end of the day? How about spending an entire afternoon thinking about all the ways things could go wrong, or “what if” things go wrong? How will you feel? What created the emotions you feel? The thoughts you allowed to take up space in your mind.
“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive ones.”Brene Brown
We can view emotional denial two ways. First, you refuse to acknowledge any emotions you feel. Second, you immediately seek to “remove” any negative emotion you feel. By refusing to acknowledge emotions you choose to hide from them. This only holds you captive to them because you can’t manage what you refuse to see. The best example of trying to remove a negative or uncomfortable emotion is seen in common reactions to anger. Most people will lash out or yell in an attempt to get rid of the anger, transferring it to someone else. We all know this doesn’t end well. You can’t get rid of an emotion that was created inside of you by projecting onto to someone else.
how to begin to journal your emotions
Find a journal you like. Keep it simple, you can either buy a fancy journal or use a spiral notebook. Keep in mind the importance of using whatever you choose regularly, so be sure to love your choice! I have gone back and forth from using a “pretty” journal to a steno book, it’s not the journal itself, but what it contains.
Set aside time daily or weekly, when you will not have interruptions for at least one hour. It depends on your schedule and felt need, whether you choose daily or weekly. But please don’t plan to do it less than weekly, you cannot obtain consistent results with a hit or miss mentality. Begin each session with a 5-10 minute period of mindfulness breathing, this will help you transition from distractions and relax you.
beginner exercises to journal your emotions
To start, try to tune in to what you are feeling in that moment. Just jot down anything that comes to mind. If you can’t name an emotion, describe how your body feels, are you tense? Do you have heaviness in your chest? Are you excited? Do you feel restless? Tired? Just write down anything that comes to mind, both positive and negative.
Second, write down an incident from your day. Taking a few moments to do this will help you relax and tune in to your mind and body. The incident can be pleasant or unpleasant; you are learning how to journal your emotions for true healing, it’s helpful to include all emotions. Honestly, focusing on positive emotions will help you to be more open to exploring the uncomfortable ones.
Fun Emotional Awareness Activity
This activity is fun to do and can be done anytime in your journey. A great “icebreaker”, I like to suggest it to beginners, but I also use it sometimes when I have trouble getting started or am particularly stubborn about facing my emotions. As you try this activity often, it increases your emotional awareness, so you notice the more subtle signs of its presence. To do this activity, simply pick an emotion you currently feel, or one maybe you felt earlier in the day. It can also be one you can’t quite “label”. Then answer these questions:
- If this feeling was a color it would be ____________
- What type of weather would this feeling be? ___________________
- If I drew a landscape of this feeling it would look like __________________
- What type of object would this feeling be? __________________
- If this feeling were music, it would sound like _____________
exercises to distinguish patterns and create freedom
As you practice writing down emotions, incidents from your days, and increasing your awareness through the Fun Emotional Awareness activity you will grow in identifying your emotional make-up. Then you can begin to explore specific patterns and creating freedom from past behaviors. The following exercises will help you to explore the emotions you started to recognize in the earlier exercises.
Defining Emotions Activity
Emotions are generated by thoughts, but manifest themselves through physical sensations. For example, tense muscles, “butterflies” in your stomach or loss of appetite are common physical manifestations of anger, sorrow, or anxiety. Finally, remember thoughts create emotions, then emotions create actions, those actions then lead to a result. For this activity, you will be considering these parts of your emotions to better understand your patterns.
Take one of the emotions that you identified in the earlier activities and describe the components.
- Describe what thoughts you generally think when feeling this emotion. Be specific; don’t just write down, I am thinking sad things. Include memories that may arise.
- Notice body sensations; what physical sensations do you notice when feeling this emotion?
- When you feel this emotion, what actions or reactions occur? For example, when angry, do you yell, or storm around? Do you “pick fights” with friends or family?
- When you feel this emotion and allow your normal “actions” or reactions, what are the results? Taking the example above for anger, when you yell or pick fights, what is the result?
Create An Emotional Anchor Exercise
For this exercise you will be writing a brief paragraph about a time when you experienced a positive emotion. By completing this exercise, it creates an emotional anchor or reference point to provide perspective during difficult times. By writing this memory down in your journal, you reinforce the positive emotional experience, reminding yourself there is life beyond bad emotions.
After deciding on your experience fill in the blanks below. While you can simply write about the event, this method will help you focus on the entire emotional experience more fully.
I remember a good feeling__________(when). I simply felt _________. (Describe the feeling in a few words). I was _________ (where) and I remember noticing __________(something sensory). It was a time in my life when I was doing _______ (activity or general description). I’ll never forget _______ (people, weather, surroundings). I know I’ll never be exactly there again, but I know I can feel that way again.
“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”Sigmund Freud
MOve Toward True Healing
After working through these exercises for some time, you will begin to accurately identify your emotions. It took me weeks before one day I was driving home from work, and I finally recognized the physical sensations and thought pattern so familiar to me, was FEAR. Until that point, I could tell you my thoughts, and physical sensations, but not identify the emotion connected to them. It was a tremendous breakthrough for me, because you cannot release or heal unnamed emotions. Now I knew what fear felt like in my body, and I released it.
Once you become good at identifying your emotions, you then begin to notice the thought patterns that create them. This helps you correct poor thought patterns and manage your mind, anticipating triggers. The trickle down effect of this shows up in more controlled responses and results. Ultimately you freely release emotions trapped in your body which leads to physical and mental healing. Learning how to journal your emotions for true healing will become one of your most valuable resources for well-being.