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What style of journaling has taught you the most about yourself?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Beach-Girl, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member

    I have been thinking a lot on how many ways I've been taught to journal throughout the two programs I've worked on since learning about TMS/PPD. I really love to free write, and do this every morning. I sit down with pen and notebook and start writing as I'm having my first cup of coffee. I sort out what's going on with me emotionally and also physically. I think it's important (at least for me) to notice and celebrate the mornings when I have no pain. I've thought about trying to tag these pages in some way so that I can see how well I'm doing. There are many mornings now when I awake with NO pain. I think, for me, this is huge. So I enjoy free writing quite a bit. And this habit is a nice change from jumping on my computer and checking my email and other things first thing in the morning.

    Dr. Schubiner has a method in his program that is really interesting. It's a dialog. You can dialog with another person, an entity, a part of your personality, anything or anyone you want.

    When I first saw this, I thought "how the heck am I supposed to do THIS?" I can't write a dialog (quickly) with "something" or "someone". How do I know what they'd say? (there are of course now wrong answers since it's coming from your subconscious) But I tried it and it blew me away. I learned so much from this style of jounraling that I try and use it in my free writes some mornings.

    For example one morning I had a dialog between my "inner child" and my "inner parent". And when I had finished I said to myself "Boy are they angry!" I made huge discoveries about each. You are then instructed to reflect on the dialog.This was really helpful too.

    I think I may have learned more about myself using this method than any other style of jounraling I've tried. I have written on and off in a journal since I was a teenager. But using this method really brought out feelings I had no idea I was harboring. It was really amazing.

    So I thought it might be interesting to hear how others like to journal and what has taught them the most about themselves.

    (And if you haven't tried this dialog method - I highly recommend it. I learned more in15 minutes than I did using the other methods that have been suggested in both the programs I've worked on. But again - this is just me.)

    Once again: How do you like to journal and what style has taught you the most about yourself and your TMS/PPD?

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  2. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    Hi BeachGirl,
    That's awesome that you are waking up pain free :)

    I haven't tried dialog yet...I mostly do free writing or the exercises from the Structured Programs. I make lists a lot of what I think is bothering me about various issues.

    Do you ever reread your journals? I know there are different opinions on whether to do this. I just reread a journal from when I was 24...it was like getting to talk with myself from that age. And I could see the seeds of many of the issues I have now were present at that time. Overall it was really inspiring...I tend to remember the worst about that time in my life so it was good to remember that there were other, positive things going on as well.

    :) Veronica
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  3. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    I love this post, I sometimes think emotionally- at other times ill write about the emotions. Sometimes ill focus on the issue for sure- love that.
    I have feel good journals, free write journals and so forth. I guess my question is what style of release do others use in journaling or acceptance.
    Ive often just pondered events that id other wise repress and doing this has helped. Anyone got a good idea to add ?
    plum likes this.
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I usually journal by thinking of someone or some event out of my childhood or later years.
    What made me angry, depressed, gave me low self-esteem, or feelings of being rejected or abused.
    When I began, I didn't think I had much repressed emotion, but more than a few came to mind.
    Then it became a matter of dealing with them, and most of that came with forgiving,
    myself as well as others.

    "No man is an island." We learn that through journaling.

    Talk to yourself. You'll listen.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  5. Dee

    Dee New Member

    Hi Beach Girl:

    This is an interesting question. I have done more than one type of journaling that has been effective in helping me deal with TMS. When I first started the program, I did a "stream of consciousness" type of journaling. I would just sit down for 5 or 10 minutes with a notebook and write the following:

    I'm mad about X.
    I'm sad about Y.
    I'm worried about Z.
    I'm anxious about B.
    I'm nervous about C.

    And so on....

    I didn't necessarily have to think about it. The words just flew onto the paper. I noticed that I could quickly fill up a sheet of paper with these lines. It showed me that I was worried, angry, and sad about a lot of stuff. Over a few weeks, I began to see patterns. When the same issues kept showing up, I was able to see where the real anxieties were hiding. It basically helped me put the puzzle pieces together as to what was contributing to my pain.

    In some cases, I would also add on. For example: "I am worried about the project that I have to get done at work. That is why my back hurts today. It is not physical. There is nothing physically wrong with me."

    This helped reinforce that I was physically fine. The more I could see that on paper and reiterate that to my brain, the better.

    In other cases, I would simply sit and write about the current goings-on in my life that day or that week. Now that I'm two years out from reading Sarno's books, I can typically feel when things are building up inside me and I know I need to get them on paper. I'll simply write about what it going on and what I'm worried about, etc.

    And I continue to do stream of consciousness writing, too. I felt particularly overwhelmed a few weeks ago, thanks to the holidays. I thought I had a better handle on the holidays this year, so I was surprised when I woke up one morning feeling very heavy with emotion. I felt like I could just burst out crying at any second, which is very uncharacteristic of me. I decided it was time to do a stream of consciousness and get to the bottom of all of the stuff that had been building up. Once again, I was able to quickly see just how much stuff had been piling up in my head that needed to get out.

    It just helps to get it on paper, no matter what format. I think that's the most important thing.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  6. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Beach Girl,
    Thanks for raising this issue. I started out journaling using the Schubiner 3-part method of clustering, followed by writing feelings, then processing those feelings. I benefited a great deal from this and had so much symptom-release that I stopped the formal program at that point. Then when I felt a flare-up, I would write out my current stressors/triggers and then explore the underlying emotional/psychological issues behind them. This worked pretty well. But recently I've been feeling a little "stuck", so I tried the dialogue method you suggested in your post, and that is contained in Schubiner's book. I found it interesting, and will keep this up for awhile to see what unfolds. Thanks for recommending it. It's always great to hear what is helping others.

    Happy New Year!
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  7. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is great Dee, I love it -- I often use this process for sure. I have too, it helps me process better too.
    And I seem to always feel relief if im getting anxious, thanks for being so specific.
    Bless You
  8. Waterbear

    Waterbear Peer Supporter

    I always hated journaling. In school, I loathed teachers who made it a class assignment. The journaling portion was actually very, very difficulty for me. I put off looking into TMS for about a month when I read that that was part of the treatment.

    However, during that month, my pain got so intense, I decided to try it. At first, I hated it and it didn't help me at all. Then one day, I was home by myself, and I started to write about a close friend who had said something that hurt me greatly a few months back.

    I think since no one was home, I must have felt safer, but while I was journaling, I sort of "shut off" my censor. I never swear or cuss. I'm always polite. I never want to hurt another's feelings. However, I started to write the most vicious and hateful things down in my journal. I suddenly became afraid because it was like a monster was writing in my notebook and not me. I then got a moment of clarity and said to myself, "stop thinking about it, just let it happen."

    I started writing again, so fast I was barely making sentences. I didn't care, I just kept going. My friend's comment had stuck deeply and had festered for months. I poured it all out. I filled 3 pages of hate, the purest and most terrible hate that I never knew I could feel.

    When it was over, my throat was dry. I had tears in my eyes. I had adrenaline surging through my body. I felt like I'd just finished a sparring match in karate. I felt amazing, my pain was barely there.

    Spent the rest of the night painting with the arms that should have been crippled with tendinitis. Since then, I really haven't had any arm pain, just a few hiccups, nothing major. I still have knee pain, but it's getting better too, but a lot slower.

    So what I took away from that experience, is to just "let go". Sure, mommy told me to be a lady but I was hurt and I needed to just get it out and truly get it out, in it's rawest form. Don't be scared to be mean. Don't be scared to write that you hate someone or something. I journal best when I don't really think about it.

    It's your journal and only yours. You don't need to explain it's contents to anyone.

    Btw: I feel zero anger towards that friend now too :)
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  9. Steve Ozanich

    Steve Ozanich TMS Consultant

    Journaling taught me a hell of a lot about myself. I couldn't stand journaling, and so I never did it. That taught me a ton about how fast my life was moving, and how little patience I had at that time. I wanted things quicker. That, of course, is one of the main reasons people have TMS. Push...push....push...push...gimmee, gimmee, gimmee.

    I also see it quite a bit from people, "Steve, I don't understand, I've been trying TMS healing for a month now, and no results!" It takes us a lifetime to get into TMS, one month or even six months may not scratch the surface.

    Journaling works and I always recommend it, but I was in full bore mode and couldn't sit down to even finish it. I would begin it, and then stop because I could see where it was trying to take me. They wanted me to cry and reflect, and let go. I saw the end and wanted to go straight there. This is the problem, we live in a fast paced world that demands answers in short time. All our TV shows solve their problems in a half hour to an hour.

    I'm always reminded of this by the scene in Bruce Almighty (no relation to our BruceMC, who is mighty, but not all). When Jim Carey finally decides he will listen to what God has to say, Morgan Freeman pushes that mop bucket across the floor to him with his foot. They began to mop the floor two-gether; the simplistic act of starting from the ground up, with the dirtiest of work. It's the humbling of the self that tears away ego to reveal the true self beneath.

    It all begins from the beginning. If you want to heal there is no easy way out. You have to start with the basics and do the grinding work, that's where the transformation occurs--within the hard work the spirit is forced to expand. Or as the good doctor once told me, "it's time for them (TMSers) to get to work."

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  10. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    I thought I'd bump this thread up - rather than starting a new one - as I would be really grateful to know what methods of journaling forum members have found to be the most helpful to them.

    I have been doing some of the writing exercises on the Curable app and I've recently started doing 'dialogue' journaling as suggested by Beach-Girl (the originator of this thread) which seems to be the most productive so far for me, in respect of my being able to see things from a different angle/perspective and, in doing so, to feel the emotions associated with the stuff that I'm writing/dialoguing about.

    I am aware of the different methods of journaling shown on TMSwiki, i.e. http://www.tmswiki.org/ppd/How_do_I_journal%3F#Free_or_Fast_Writing (How do I journal?), and I have also tried 'stream of consciousness' journaling al la Julia Cameron (as mentioned and kindly detailed by Plum in another thread) however, it would be great to know if anyone has found an innovative approach (or variation to any these known techniques) that has really 'hit the spot' for them - in the hope it may also 'hit the spot' for me too.

    Thanks in advance for any advice/thoughts on this.
    plum likes this.
  11. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    These days I do a lot of targeted journaling (I'm a member of a women's lunar yoga circle and we tease through different, dedicated themes each lunar month). It was thanks to the cyclic nature of this writing that patterns emerged.

    In the beginning my approach was very much as SteveO describes, a combination of can't be arsed and I know this shit enough already. I humbly retract this egoic stance in the spirit of to know and to not do is to not know.

    When I reflect on the days when I religiously followed Julia Cameron's Morning Pages, I have to note my obsessive tendency to focus on the same subject. It would colour the page every single day. From that I learned how intense and obsessive I could be, something I labelled as 'passionate' back then. I disguised this fervent and highly-strung energy behind the illusion of free-writing. Oh the games we play with ourselves...

    As with so many methods we adopt in "trying to heal" the main insight seems to be the spirit with which we engage the endeavour. Intensity is one. Finding the perfect method is another. Procrastination yet one more. Oftentimes it's less about the content and more about the context. Less about the emotions explained and explored, more about the ambient emotion that you take to the page.

    Journalling can really shake you down in unexpected ways. I view it more as gardening less like archaeology these days.

    Thanks for bumping such a fascinating thread.

    Plum x
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  12. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    I really like how you view and put this, Plum...I have been endeavouring to journal, but it's hard for me to knuckle down to it (my brain/mind of course is rebelling)...However, thinking of it as 'gardening' and less like 'archaeology' immediately lifted my spirit/attitude towards it...I'm not a great lover of gardening, but there are some less arduous aspects of it that I did like doing, e.g. potting up plants, doing a bit of trimming with the secateurs and picking fruit and berries...I'm going to hang on to that image (and if from doing a bit of 'gardening' I end up delving deeper and discovering King Tut II's tomb, so be it!). Thanks, Plum. xxx

    P.S. Has anyone ever told you that you should be a writer? - I'm sure they must have as you always put things so beautifully :).
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  13. westb

    westb Well known member

    I've been a journaler for a couple of decades on and off, long before the joys of TMS, having read Julia Cameron's Artist's Way. But it's been only since I stopped working in 2009 that I write nearly every day, and I still stick with the recommended 3 pages. I like doing it, or rather I can't imagine not doing it. The style varies. Most days it's free writing, and sometimes when I'm feeling sluggish I write down the question "What Needs to be Written Today?" or "What Wants to be Written today?" Something always comes, often banal, sometimes not.

    Occasionally, maybe 2 or 3 times a year, if I'm feeling very anxious and stressed about a particular issue I'll do a "Letter to God" which in effect is saying I can't handle x (whatever is going on) over to You (whatever God is), please help. It's a way for me to cut off the ceaseless rumination in my head. I then burn what have written and scatter the ashes outside in the garden. Other times I'll do letters that I don't send to people who have been important to me in my life, often who have since died.

    But mostly it's free writing. I've recently started to incorporate a daily gratitude list, prompted by some of Rick Hanson's work of focussing on positive feelings and sensations about my life. I put down the positives of the past 24 hours and why I appreciate them.

    I always burn what I have written; should I get knocked down by a bus I don't want anyone finding it. It's very private.

    I'm someone who sometimes has a) a hard time recognising what I'm feeling and b) having someone I trust enough to tell. I feel I'm pretty weird in a lot of ways and not everyone is up for that. So writing them down clarifies my thoughts and helps get them out of my head. I've started using a pencil rather than a biro recently. The number of horrible disposable plastic-y biros I was getting through definitely wasn't helping the environment!
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
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  14. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    Plum, BM,

    Thanks for bringing this topic to the fore. I read SteveO's entry and recognized my own tendency to want to rush through, finish up and be done.

    I re-began journaling in January 2017 and found it very productive. I was religious about the practice, writing every day, sometimes 2x per day (Hanscom's suggestion I believe). After four grueling months of writing, I woke up one morning and my debilitating sciatica was gone!! Yeah, I thought. Well.....what happens then, I slack off, think, what is there left to write about. I'm bored with 'me' (so to speak). Yet, there were still myriad other pains, shoulders, hip, back, leg, that were nagging me for more. I wanted nothing of this. I wrote sporadically after that and alas, I still have a remaining right hip, thigh pain.

    So, guess what, this thread, and your renewal of it BloodMoon, have inspired me once again.

    My journaling had been mainly a stream of consciousness but I think this time I will try the dialogue approach. I was trained, many years ago, in voice dialogue. Getting in touch with our inner parts. Very effective. Why did I not pick up and do this? My inner procrastinator? My wounded child? My lazy self? etc. etc., This is what I can explore.

    Thanks for the timely nudge.

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  15. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    Good idea to burn what we've written to prevent anyone else reading it @westb - I like the idea of it too though from the kind of 'ritual' aspect...out with the old - in flames and puffs of smoke.

    I'm going to take a tip from you to do a gratitude list as part of my journaling...I was reading that it's a good idea to end journaling sessions on an up beat note, which I was finding hard to do, so writing about some things I'm grateful for will be just the ticket - Thanks for mentioning this.
  16. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    You're welcome, Lainey - re the timely nudge :)

    ...And I'm grateful for your reply as it's inspiring to hear that regular persistent journaling has worked really well for you in the past.

    Re not thinking to use the dialogue approach when you kind of ran out of steam with the stream of consciousness journaling: I think that it's often hard to see the wood for the trees when it comes to 'advising' ourselves what to do...Even when things we've experienced in the past have been helpful, it seems to me that our brains have the tendency to kind of 'pigeon hole' them for some reason, which stops us from making the connection. It will be interesting to know what conclusion you come to about this.

    Good luck on your return to journaling :). I hope it will help you get rid of that remaining right hip and thigh pain.
  17. westb

    westb Well known member

    You're welcome, and yes, I'm a great one for ritual and find it a powerful tool.

    Rick Hanson, whose writing dovetails so well with Alan Gordon's programme, puts emphasis on staying with the feelings of gratitude, positivity, pleasure, joy when they arise, taking the time to let the feelings sink in and not being in a hurry to move onto the next thing. I try and do that now whenever something positive happens, not just when I'm journaling. I've spent so many years feeling fear and anxiety and frustation as the accompaniment to my days that it's a strange, rather unfamiliar sensation to sit and notice good feelings. My brain has been out of practice, obviously ....
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  18. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'm with you with all of this...I recently bought one of Rick Hanson's books and in it he was saying how the brain has a natural tendency to act like teflon for good things and velcro for bad things and the practice of 'taking in the good' helps to overcome that tendency. I never got on with mindfulness meditation before but, since reading about 'taking in the good' I'm applying it in another way too - that is, in making a point of noticing the 'nice' aspects of things I don't like doing...Today I had to clean out and wash a number jars which was a little bit of tedious task which I was rushing through, but then I got to noticing how pretty and colourful their lids are (they're decorated with a floral motif and are lovely turquoise blue colour) which I had notice when I original bought them, but I had 'lost sight of' it in daily use.
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  19. Mike1601

    Mike1601 New Member

    I haven't journaled consistently as of recent but I really like a method of writing called 'webbing' (I think there is also another name for it) that is in Dr. Schubiner's book about anxiety and depression. This is not traditional journaling per se in that the writer is not writing full sentences in paragraph form. This ends up looking like a web or chart of words and phrases that you connect to each other. This is performed for 5 min and your thoughts/ideas are written down quickly without thinking about your writing. In the end, this was extremely insightful for me and I think it really can develop self-awareness about your symptoms and the issues that are really driving the symptoms (fear, anger, sadness, etc). I haven't heard of stream of consciousness as mentioned above but I'm wondering if these may be similar.
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  20. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Mike :). Thanks for your input. Yes, I think 'webbing' is also known as spider or cluster writing. I was thinking that it would be especially good to do on the days when knuckling down to journaling is feeling like it's just too much to face. This happens to me all the the time, so I will try 'webbing' - thanks for the suggestion.

    Stream of consciousness journaling is where you just write down anything that comes into your head with no editing and not bothering about spelling, punctuation or necessarily forming proper sentences either. Spider writing/webbing writing sounds similar with regard to the latter plus that you just splurge out what comes to mind. (Here's a short article/blog about stream of consciousness journaling https://medium.com/@gauravonomics/handwrite-a-stream-of-consciousness-morning-journal-every-day-dda022ef254e (Handwrite a Stream of Consciousness Morning Journal Every Day).)
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018

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