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People talk a lot these days about the benefits of journaling. They say that journaling can be highly effective for helping people process their emotions. Seems easy enough, right? Well, simply writing your feelings down on paper can be effective, but to get the most out of the journaling experience, consider experimenting with different methods. In this blog post, we will focus on one particular journaling method, called Morning Pages.

Morning Pages

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way and many other fabulous books, offers a powerful way to express your feelings through what she named “Morning Pages.” The way it works is simple. In the morning, when you wake up, the very first thing you do is sit down at your desk with pen and paper in hand, and you write. NON STOP. Until you’ve completed four pages.

What?!?! Four pages?!? Why so many? The reason is this: during the first couple of pages or so, you’re practically vomiting all the garbage in your mind onto paper (yes, vomiting!). All the negative thoughts and emotions, misunderstandings, irrational beliefs, complaints, and hurts you carry around with you…they’re usually the first to come up and out on paper. So let it rip!

The trick is to KEEP GOING—by letting it all out, you give yourself the space to get beyond the negativity, and toward the truth.

But don’t stop yet! Once you’ve expressed that part of yourself, you can finally get to the heart of the matter and find out what it is you really want and need. As you keep writing, you may start to feel a shift in your energy. Perhaps you feel a sense of relief, a greater connection to love and joy, or maybe even an insight about yourself and your life. Whatever it may be, the important thing to note is that you keep writing until the negative charge has dissipated. When you experience yourself residing in either a neutral or a positive place, then you know that you’re done journaling.

Congratulate yourself!

Written by: Anita Avedian, MFT

Many people wonder how a situation escalates so quickly. Questions such as, “What happened?” or “How did he end up leaving?” are asked, yet there is not much success with finding a fulfilling answer.

We live in a society where immediate gratification is part of our daily lives. It is a great challenge for many to take the time to reply to a triggering email or an upsetting voice message. We want to respond right away because the pain is so intolerable. Unfortunately, this is a journey of digging ourselves into a deeper mess.

Reacting

When we react, we are emotionally charged. This is not a good time to reply to the email, or return the phone call. I challenge you to hold off from replying to the email until the following day. In fact, write the draft without sending it, and reread the draft the following day. You will notice how harsh, defensive and/or attacking the initial email sounds. Maybe it’s not that harsh, however my guess is that there is a difference between the initially drafted email and the final email written on the following day.

Responding

Responding rather than reacting requires for you to wait until you have cooled off, and worked through the issue, prior to replying to the situation. It helps to explore and understand what really bothers you about the situation, and if appropriate, you can share your wants or needs with the person. During the waiting process, you can either journal through your own destructive thinking and hurtful feelings (remove comma) or call a trusted person to share your feelings and brainstorm, in order to productively handle the situation. This practice will increase the likelihood of saving important relationships and friendships.

How To Do It Differently

For example, if my supervisor criticizes me at work, I will feel angry and resentful, and I will act withdrawn (reacting). How I can respond is to recognize that my work does not have to be perfect, and that my supervisor was probably only trying to help me (responding).

Another example: I receive a disturbing email. My reaction is to write an entire page in return, defending myself, and venting my frustrations. The consequence would be potentially losing a friendship. On the other hand, when responding, I would journal through my anger, fear, and concern, and work towards understanding what the email triggered in me. Maybe ask myself, “What was this really about for me?” Once I gain some insight, and also try to recognize the writer’s point of view, I would write an email expressing my thoughts and feelings respectfully, and negotiate by requesting my wants.

If you are interested in learning more about reacting versus responding, you can contact one of our clinicians to work with you.