Hello and welcome to Motivation and Mindset Mondays! Today, let’s talk about healing negative childhood memories with journaling. Have you ever found yourself confronting painful memories of situations you experienced when growing up? Remembering these situations can be like re-opening old wounds and feeling the same emotions over and over again. Fortunately, you can use some very productive strategies to help you heal. One of those strategies is journaling – writing down how you feel and think.
Try these journaling techniques to help you resolve the pain of negative childhood memories:
1. Write about what you thought and felt.
Going back in time, ponder what the negative situations were like for you. Did you feel embarrassed when Dad pointed out your teeth to people? Were you angry about Mom’s consistent efforts to make you stand up straighter and taller? Write it down.
2. What are your current thoughts and feelings?
Next, use your current “adult mind” to take a look at the situation the best you can. What does your adult mind tell you about what really happened? Maybe you see things more clearly now. Was Mom or Dad’s goal to simply make you a “better person?” Jot down your current interpretation of the situation.
3. Document how the challenging situations affected you then.
How did you react as a child to what happened? How did you make sense of the trying situations then? Who, if anyone, did you talk to about the troublesome times? Mention them in your journal.
4. Ponder how the hurtful events from the past affect you now.
See if you can make any connections between your past and present. Make a conscious decision to better manage your feelings and behavioral choices now. Write down how you can manage your emotions differently.
5. Vow to gain understanding.
If it was a situation when your parent did something that you just couldn’t understand, can you make sense of it now? Maybe your father didn’t make you stay home from a trip to punish you – perhaps he thought you’d be exposed to something unsavory or even unsafe and he was hoping to protect you.
- Explore these possible explanations through writing in your journal.
6. Re-write your history.
Re-construct your childhood on paper how you would have liked it to be. It’s a learning experience to formulate how you would have liked your growing up years to have been different. Re-writing your history can also help you heal.
7. Make a conscious decision to overcome your past.
Whatever your old hurts, decide to disconnect them from your current life. This effort must be made consciously and with great thought. Write down how you can release yourself.
8. Recognize these events were in the past.
As you record your thoughts and feelings, make note of how long ago the situation or events occurred. Label them as “in the past” in your journal. Start a new section called, “In the present” and write about how you’ll respond to those types of hurts now.
9. Formulate a plan to let it go and move on.
In your writings, consider steps you might take to move on in your life and live more openly and without being tethered to your historic pain.
10. Give yourself permission to release the old, negative emotions.
In your journal, jot down that you no longer have to carry the hurt. Allow yourself permission to leave it behind you. You can even draw a picture of the tangled web of feelings and state you’re leaving all the pain right there between the lines of your journal.
Expressing yourself with pen and paper, or even on a computer, will help you discharge your troublesome feelings and move on with your goals. Live your best life now by using journaling to help heal old wounds.
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I really wanted to talk about this topic today because I wanted to share some lifestyle-based strategies to improve your overall mindset and mental health, which in turn improves your life. You must do the internal work to improve your overall health. You can do this by learning what motivates you and working each day on improving your mindset. Your thoughts control your feelings, which controls your behavior. You can cultivate certain behaviors and practices that will not only enrich your life, but that you can pass on to your family, friends, and community, so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
If you are familiar with my approach, I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle modifications, such as stress reduction and mindfulness exercises, can help you feel better about yourself and your life. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Tools For Motivation And Mindset
Although you don’t need a cushion to meditate, you may want to consider using one at some point. You could meditate in a chair, or simply sit on the floor if you want. You can also use pillows or cushions from your furnishings to try out. Cushion, chair, bench, floor – it’s all good. Eventually, though, if you’re not sitting upright on a chair, you’ll probably do well to buy a dedicated meditation cushion. The cushion will support your sitting posture and help you create an appealing mindfulness corner that will encourage you to practice every day. I recommend this meditation cushion and mat bundle.
If you struggle with stress, depression, or anxiety, keeping a journal can be a great idea. Even if you don’t have these conditions, journaling can enhance your life in many ways. Having difficulty processing your thoughts and emotions? Journaling can help clear that mental clutter and move towards a positive mindset. Research suggests that keeping a journal can have positive impacts on both mental and physical health. So, to start you on your journey, I recommend this self care journal.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet, regular physical activity, meditation and mindfulness, as well as healthy and supportive relationships are the best ways to support mental health. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
PPS. If you or someone you know is experiencing severe stress, anxiety, depression and/or other mental health issues, please contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889. This is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
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