This post inspired Episode 12 of the Everyday Confidence Podcast
As most of you are probably aware, I can’t help but evangelize about the power of Journaling.
Regularly writing your thoughts down, actually getting them out of your head has so many benefits. And especially when it’s part of your plan to improve your confidence, or self-esteem.
Why is journaling so powerful?
Really, there are several reasons. On a general note, scientific studies, have shown that your conscious mind can only hold around seven chunks of information at any one time. (A observation initially put forward by George Miller). And now, some studies reveal that number may be as low as four. If any of those chunks are on worthless, inconsequential ramblings, get ’em outta your head! Leave some space for things that’ll help you solve your issues.
Also, journaling can be very calming. So for simple ‘goodness’, writing in a journal helps you to…
- Leave room in your Prefrontal cortex for useful thoughts.
- Focus the thoughts you do have.
- Reduce your stress level.
- Do all of your complaining, and not worry that someone’s going to be upset with you!
For building self confidence and growing your self-esteem, journaling has some super powers.
- You can track your progress toward your confidence goals.
- You can write about your inner-most thoughts and desires.
- It allows you to learn more about yourself.
- You can write down all of your tasks and projects and the journal will keep you accountable.
- It’s somewhere safe to face your fears
- You can look back over time and see how much you’ve grown.
- It saves you paying for a therapist!
When I speak to people about starting a journal, most of the push-back I get is because of one, or two things. Either, they don’t have the time, or they don’t know what to write about.
So, I’ve got a few thoughts to share about those things…
The first issue, is time
Many people believe that to keep a journal, you have to write every day. And writing will take a considerable amount of time. Time they simply don’t have.
It’s true, that the most benefit will be gained if you can do it every day. After all, you have negative thoughts every day, so it makes sense. But, it doesn’t have to take a long time.
A few years ago, I started asking my clients to complete a 60 second journal. It was simply to answer four questions every day.
- What did I do well today?
- What did I struggle with today?
- Is there anything can I do, to improve things next time?
- What am I grateful for today?
The only rule is that you must spend no more than 60 seconds on each answer. If you set yourself a time limit, your brain immediately identifies to the most important points. It’s when you ruminate on an answer, that time slips by.
Clearly, if you’ve got more time, you can expand the answers. You could write explanations on how you dealt with the situations that arose, or what you gained from the experience.
You could share how the problems from the day made you feel? Or, maybe brainstorm ways of preventing them happening in the future?
What should I write about?
Now, with the ‘lack of time’ element taken care of, the second issue is not knowing what to write about.
That’s where journaling prompt come in.
Here’s a few to get you started…
- What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
- When do you feel the strongest/most confident?
- What is one compliment you struggle to accept?
- Think about a person you admire (family member, friend, celebrity, etc.. What qualities do you share with them?
- What would you say, is your best physical feature and why?
- Name one activity that always makes you feel good.
- What Is your greatest talent, or skill?
- Write about the last time you were proud of yourself.
- What’s holding you back from pursuing your dreams?
- What would it take to overcome that/those obstacle(s)?
- How do you sabotage your self-confidence?
- Write about the last time you overcame a fear.
- What would success look like for you?
- What is it about failure that scares you?
And, if you ask Professor Google for some ideas, I’m sure you’ll find hundreds of others.
Any other tips?
My first tip would be to just decide to try it. It’s something I’ve done everyday for years. And although it may seem that nothing good can come from spilling my thoughts onto paper (or in my case the keyboard), it’s amazing how much can be gained from it.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never written in a journal before, if you’ve no idea what to write about, or even if you don’t think you’ll be able to do it everyday. Start with a 60 second journal and build from there.
Everything is simpler if you can make it a habit. So, try to set a specific time every day for journaling (even if it’s only for five minutes).
They say it takes approximately three weeks of regular, repeated action for something simple to become a habit. So why not try it for three weeks and see what happens! (BTW, if you miss a day, you have to start again 😉 )
If after all this convincing talk, you’re still not sure, let me know what’s holding you back in the comments, or drop me an email.