Want to understand your thoughts and feelings better? This simple journal exercise could be just the trick.
When was the last time you stopped and thought about your emotions? Despite our emotions playing such an important role in our day-to-day outlook and decision making, we often forget to pay attention to how we’re really feeling inside.
But taking the time to look after and understand your emotions can actually be hugely beneficial for your overall wellbeing. Not only does unpicking how you’re feeling stop you from bottling things up – something which has been proven to be detrimental for your physical and mental health – but it can also help you to feel more in control.
Nicky Clinch is a maturation coach, mentor and author of the new book Surrender: Break Free Of The Past, Realise Your Power, Live Beyond Your Story. She believes journaling is an effective tool to help people gain deeper insight into their emotions and achieve a sense of perspective and focus.
“We have thousands of thoughts that go through our minds in a 24-hour period, and about 80% of them are negative, because the design function of the mind is to help us survive and look for any possible threat,” she says.
“The problem is that all these thoughts go around in our minds like a washing machine, and we don’t have any control over that or have any real context as to what’s real and what’s not, which can impact how we see and feel about things that go on in our day.”
Clinch continues: “We can use journaling as a way to begin seeing and gain a deeper awareness of what’s going on inside our minds.”
While Clinch explains there are numerous ways to start journaling, she believes the best way to dig deep and start to understand your emotions in a way that’ll help to relieve stress is by doing what she calls an ‘inquiry’.
To start your own ‘inquiry’, all you need to do is to ask yourself a targeted question. “They can be simple questions such as ‘What do I feel today?’, ‘What do I need today?’ or ‘Why am I so angry now?’” Clinch says. “Writing down a question for yourself opens things up, and your mind will be ready to start looking for answers. Then, you can start writing down anything that begins to come to you.”
While these questions may seem quite simple at first, they allow you to become more conscious of the thousands of thoughts and feelings that are going around your head on any given day. In turn, Clinch says, this helps you to let go of unnecessary tension and make informed choices about how to move forward.
“When you take the time to use your journal to really inquire what’s going on, it’s like someone coming in and cleaning your glasses – suddenly, you’re starting to see things that you couldn’t see before,” she explains. “Your journal allows you to become more conscious and therefore make more non-emotional, objective decisions.”
Examining your emotions may seem scary at first, but it’s a great way to feel more in tune with yourself and what’s going on in your life. So, what are you waiting for? Grab yourself a notebook and pen and get started – you’ll thank yourself later.
Surrender: Break Free Of The Past, Realise Your Power, Live Beyond Your Story is available to buy now.
Images: Getty/Hay House UK