I wanted to share something I was tasked with by my therapist that I thought was completely ridiculous and terribly uncomfortable … But so very useful and effective: Positive Journaling.
I would venture to say that many people with very low self-esteem participate in the practice of negative self-talk, often without really even being consciously aware that they are doing it. Negative thoughts about the self, the world and really just about anything and everything that we encounter in our day-to-day lives can become quite overwhelming, drowning out any positive thoughts that may emerge. It’s really a battle won by majority-rules. When the majority of your thoughts are critical, eventually a change in thinking can be of utmost difficulty. Yet changing our thinking can be so powerful.
So I was tasked with keeping a daily journal of positive thoughts about myself. I couldn’t do it. Months later I was was again tasked with this impossible homework assignment. A few days went by before I finally started it … I completed three entries before I gave up. Weeks later, I was again advised to do this very difficult thing — only this time my therapist started it for me. She told me to write down three sentences that she gave me — her words; her truths. These were to become my mantras; I was to re-write them in my own words, knowing they were truths that she spoke to me; three tiny, seemingly insignificant truths that contained positive words that were about me. I was to re-write these few short lines with the knowledge that these positive things were true thoughts, proof that someone else believed in me, and that it was perfectly acceptable to know and believe and think these things.
I re-wrote these things, I read them back to myself, I reminded myself of them when I was feeling glum. Suddenly, as if magic happened, I found myself starting to be reassured and to allow myself to really see and hear the negative self-talk that was happening in my mind. I caught myself putting myself down when I least expected it. My eyes opened. She was right. She was so completely right and I didn’t see it until now. Clarity is a brilliant gift. If I could wish anything for anybody, it would be the gift of being able to see things — to see the self — with clarity; to see our true selves and be reassured that we are not as terrible as we believe ourselves to be, and to see the wonder that others see in us; to know that we are amazing beings that are loved and worthy of awe, adoration and love.
Convincing the self of these things, however, can be a challenge. It might possibly be my biggest challenge — more than the mourning of both parents, the extreme loss and division of divorce; more than any physical challenge I have encountered.
Yet I am determined.
Something triggered a thought in me just recently — I thought that I am so privileged and fortunate to have had so many of the wonderful experiences I’ve had this year. At the end of 2014 I hit the reset button on my life; never in a million years would I have thought at that time that I would have experienced everything that I have so far experienced in 2015. I went home and I made a list. I wrote down the experiences I was so fortunate to have had on just that one day. Then I thought about my week, and the experiences I was fortunate to have throughout that week. And then I was on a roll — I jotted down everything I experienced this year that I never thought I could do; everything that seemed impossible until it was done and everything that brought me joy.
I noticed how many things I accomplished that were very personal, seemingly impossible goals for myself. I was dumbfounded. I went to bed at peace that night, my tormented mind comfortably calm for the first time in a while. I finally saw the power of this completely ridiculous and terribly uncomfortable task.