How to Identify and Stop Self-Sabotage
Usually, when I first suggest this to someone I can hear their brain switch to the “stop listening: I’m not interested” mode.
Don’t do that.
Journaling is one of the best things that has ever come into my life.
It does so much more than reveal self-sabotaging patterns… this blog will let you in on my whole journaling process to reveal a ton of benefits.
I’m not going to try to talk you into journaling.
I’m just explaining why it works.
I resisted for a long time until I realized I was just holding myself back.
Toward the end of this blog, I’ll give you my own personal journaling practice which is part of my daily routine (stay tuned for a 2-part series on developing your own positive routine for success in the next 2 weeks).
Have you ever had a song stuck in your head or a thought (usually a worry) that just keeps churning around and around and around?
That used to happen to me a lot.
I come from a long line of skilled worriers and was taught to do it at an expert level; if it were an Olympic sport I’d get a 10 from the Russian judge.
Journaling helped me to get thoughts out of my head so I could dive into solutions.
When that thought or worry (or really irritation lyrics/ tune to a song) are clanking around inside your head like a quarter inside your clothes dryer it’s just making noise.
I learned through writing thoughts down I was giving my brain the opportunity to examine & develop them.
There’s science behind this, too (of course … don’t you know me by now?)
Thoughts do end up turning into things – it’s how inventors actually invent things.
The way those things develop is by getting the thoughts out of your brain and into a re-digestible form.
By adding a mechanical action to accompany your thoughts (writing) and then taking them back in using the additional skill of reading your brain is actually able to consider different angles and possibilities of the thought that originated within itself.
Quite fascinating… don’t you think?
When your brain takes in information – even information that originated within itself – it re-processes it.
Ever wonder why teachers have children write the same thing over and over again?
It’s to help the idea solidify in their brain.
By writing my thoughts down I’ve been able to consider them from different angles and either develop the good (and great) ones or toss them and move on.
This process helps lower stress and increase our ability to problem-solve.
Want to be smarter and more efficient? Journal.
During this whole process, another thought phenomenon happened to me.
I was able to more easily, thoroughly, and clearly dig into my own feelings.
So many of us ignore our feelings.
By exploring things we are thinking through writing and that re-digestion process I already went through, our brain automatically explores feeling thoughts about the thing it originally thought which you then wrote down, and is now revisiting through sight.
Another way journaling has helped me to develop a deeper understanding of my feelings is by forcing me to think about what’s actually going on inside myself.
I have lost count of how many people I’ve spoken with over the years with whom I have had this exchange:
Dr. Jane: “What is it you’re really feeling?”
Person: “I don’t know.”
Dr. Jane: “Let’s dig into it and name your feeling”
Person: “I just don’t know… I just don’t feel good about things.”
That’s not okay.
We’re intelligent feelings with a very broad emotional spectrum and unique personality traits. (Did you miss last week’s blog on why it’s so important to understand your personality? Read it here… this all goes together!)
Writing down your thoughts helps you to look at them and then determine your feelings.
Sometimes when I have one of those “blah… I can’t put my finger on it but I just know something isn’t right with this day…” days, I go straight to my journal and write down what I notice is missing.
When we’re feeling those “blah” times, it means we’re missing something… either there is something around us that is wrong or something we’re missing completely.
The emotional progression scale I published for you a few months ago is another place to go if you’re having issues identifying the way you actually feel about something.
It gives a range of emotions from the highest positive feelings to the lowest negative feelings… I challenge you to journal your thoughts and then take a look at that graphic to pinpoint exactly what it is you’re feeling.
When you take the time to name your emotions one of two things happens:
- POSITIVE: If you identify a positive emotion such as excitement or joy, the feeling intensifies. That’s because your subconscious mind knows you like that feeling. It’s the same thing as having a healthy helping of something that tastes wonderful and then having someone give you seconds… there’s more to enjoy!
- NEGATIVE: Identifying a thought or feeling that does not feel good helps your brain to minimize it. Your subconscious mind knows it does not like those things. I call this “naming the monster.” If you’ve watched any of GILD’s videos you’ve probably heard the example of the monster under the bed. If the monster’s name is Fang, you’ve given yourself a reason to be terrified… but if it’s Harvey… he’s probably not so scary after all. Even realizing a feeling, thought, or emotion you are having is as dark as hopelessness helps your brain to identify that as a “not today, satan” item and shrink it down to size.
On dark or dull days – especially any days I just can’t muster up a lot of thoughts to journal – my journal provides to me my very favorite benefit of all.
There’s proof that really cool things exist in my life.
A long time ago when I was going through a tough time a friend told me that when I couldn’t “find the strength to pray” I could visit a certain section of Psalms in The Bible. “They’ll do the praying for you,” she said.
My journal serves this same purpose for me… not necessarily in prayer (or just in prayer) but overall.
Journaling is written proof of your history and successes.
When you’re journaling, you’re making a personal history of you that you can revisit and see proof of how awesome you are, have been, and that gives hope of what can and will be again.
Just as it has provided to me different viewpoints on thoughts that originated with me, it also helps me with communication.
Writing down your thoughts and your understanding of other people’s thoughts during a disagreement can help you solve arguments… or in other words:
Journaling allows you to find solutions to problems.
Don’t stew over things.
Writing down your thoughts helps you to come up with sensible resolutions to conflicts.
Writing down details of disagreements also helps you to find patterns in behavior so you can employ different tactics to bring about positive change.
When your current circumstance seems too big of a mountain to climb, take off your hiking boots and pick up a pen.
Then look back in your journal at issues of the past and see if there is anything you can learn from them to help with your current issues as well.
…but wait… there’s more!
Okay, so maybe I am trying to convince you to journal… a little bit.
It’s up to you…
There are health benefits to journaling as well because of the stress-reduction effects:
- Stronger immune system
- Reduced asthmatic symptoms
- Reduced arthritic symptoms
- A greater degree of emotional stability
- Reduction in depression
- Increased self-esteem & self- awareness
Dr. Jane’s Journaling Process
My journal is part of my daily routine which I’ll go into more in the next two weeks during our 2-part series about how to create an effective (and personalized) morning routine for yourself.
- The exterior is rubber & has a snap closure so it’s less likely I can beat it up through my travels.
- There are different sections: If anything, I’m organized.
- It’s customizable – the cover is clear so it looks like whatever I want it to look like.
- It is refillable.
Choose whatever journal you wish: the only bad journal is no journal at all.
There are five sections in my journal:
- Scary Dreams
The gratitude section gets five bullet point entries (minimum) each morning.
Practicing active gratitude helps reduce depression and stress and boost your overall mood.
I highly recommend it.
If writing down things for which you’re grateful is too much of a commitment to start, guess what?
I’ve simplified it for you with this pre-recorded guided 10-minute morning gratitude practice.
If your mornings are too hectic for that, not to worry, nay-sayer! I’ve headed you off at the pass with this pre-recorded guided 10-minute evening gratitude practice.
I’m really serious about this, obviously, and am willing to meet you where you are with the topic!
Whenever anything good happens I write a bullet-pointed entry in this section.
Did you read that?
I’m not even writing full sentences here, people.
Don’t over-complicate this.
Whenever any abundance enters my universe, I write it down: I find a quarter on the floor, a new client joins our practice, someone sends me a positive message or a gift, I realize the opportunity to send a positive message or gift, I’m overwhelmed with love of my family, friends, or pets… get the idea?
This section looks a lot like the evidence section: bullet-points.
It’s simple and literally takes seconds.
These are goals that are so big that sometimes it makes butterflies and possibly reptiles become active in my stomach.
Writing them down makes them real.
When you write down your dreams you can create plans to achieve them… and then they become reality… and then you’re literally living your dreams. (Do this!)
Sometimes this section is made up of bullet-pointed items, and other times I write longer things.
Go with what works.
Go with the moment!
This is for notes.
It’s pretty simple- I write down dreams the second I awaken, I have my journal with me at all time and take notes in this on all sorts of topics.
I got that super durable one so I could toss it in my bag and take it with me.
I can spill on it… who cares!?
Because my journal is a ringed binder format, I can take the pages out and sort them later in another journal I have for notes to go in for future reference. That journal is also tabbed (and labeled… tabs and labels make me happy. I ❤️ organization.)
Stay tuned for instruction on how to develop your own daily routine.
As I’ll detail in the next couple of weeks’ routine setting blogs, please don’t feel the need to copy everyone else’s practice; however, it’s helpful sometimes for us to get ideas about what other people are doing so we can give it a whirl to see if it works.
If you are serious about your personal development and are ready to talk about having a coach and mentor, let’s do it… here is a link for a complimentary consultation and we can figure out your best next-steps.