How Journaling Can Help You Cultivate Positive Thinking Habits

Do you keep a journal? It’s a great way to think things through and find patterns in your life. It’s a great way to record memories and personal growth. It’s also an excellent way to cultivate positive thinking habits.

“Habits” is the key word here. How we think is a habit. We grow accustomed to seeing the glass half full or half empty. We make it a habit to focus on the good stuff or the bad stuff. To get better at positive thinking, we have to make it a habit, and a journal can help us do that.

When we sit down to write, we focus our mind. We force ourselves to examine what we’ve been doing or thinking. It helps us clear our mind and find the important stuff. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing in an old fashioned journal, in a word document or blog on your computer, or if you use an app on your phone. The process of putting words on the page helps us organize and evaluate our thoughts. That’s why it’s such a valuable tool when it comes to building new habits.

By sitting down with your journal each day, you start to examine what you’ve done and how well you’ve kept up with the habit of thinking more positive thoughts. The beauty of a journal is that it is private. You can be – and should be – completely honest with yourself. Record your wins, but don’t be afraid to admit when you’ve slipped up and went back to negative thought patterns.

It’s important that you realize when you do it. Until that happens, it’s hard to break those old habits. You have to realize when it’s happening. Once you do that, you can start to catch yourself in the process of sliding into negative thoughts. The next step is to stop in your tracks, realize what you’re about to do, and then find a way to turn it around. The journal will help you with that process by going back each day and examining when you did well and when you didn’t.

After a little while, you’ll see patterns emerge. Maybe you’re good about thinking positive thoughts until you come home at night. In that case, it may be time to figure out what’s giving you a negative vibe in your space. Maybe it’s small, dark, and too crowded. What can you do to make it a more positive and inviting space to live in? Maybe you find that you do well unless you get in contact with certain people. What can you do to change the relationship dynamic and keep from sliding back into negativity around them?

There’s a lot to be gained from journaling. Not only is it great for recognizing patterns and establishing new habits, but a journal will also document your progress. When you are feeling low and are wondering if all your hard work towards a more positive attitude is making a difference, go back and read earlier journal entries. You’ll see right away how much progress you’ve been making. It may be slow from day to day and hard to see, but over time all those small changes add up to something big. Give it a try!

Essential Oil: Build Your Dream™

Combining essential oils chosen by D. Gary Young for their connections to Young Living's history, Build Your Dream™ empowers and clarifies to help you find the way to achieve your dreams when used aromatically.  Diffuse up to 30 minutes three times daily, and gain the benefit of this blend of Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Blue Cypress, Sacred Frankincense, Hong Kuai, Melissa, Idaho Blue Spruce, Balsam Canada, Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood™, Coriander, Tangerine, Black Pepper, Bergamot, Frankincense, Juniper, Anise, Blue Tansy, Geranium, and Blue lotus.

Confidence Hack: Keep a Journal

It’s time for another confidence hack. These are the simple, and easy to implement little tips and ideas that I will continue to share with you throughout this 30 Day Challenge. I encourage you to give each of them a try as I share them. Try them once or even better, implement them for a few days and see how you feel about it. If it’s helpful, keep using the hack. If it doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of other tips and ideas along the way. The goal is to have a handful of tools at the end of the challenge that will help you continue with the new self-confidence and courage habits you’re building this month.

My tip for you today is to keep a journal. There are a couple of good reasons why you should start writing a journal and how it can help you.

The first is that it increases awareness and mindfulness. Sitting down to record what you’ve done and how you feel in a journal makes you stop and think about your day. Putting what has happened into words gives you time for reflection and a deeper understanding of everything going on. Writing or journaling can help you work through issues and problems and come up with new solutions, or at the very least a better understanding of them. It’s much easier to be confident and even courageous when we understand what’s happening.

Having a journal also gives you a record of what you’ve accomplished. If you’re feeling low and could use a boost in self-confidence, grab your journal and start browsing. It’s so easy to forget all those small successes and wins as time goes by. Keeping a journal where you record everything you are proud of is a great resource to have when you need to increase your confidence in yourself and what you can do.

How you keep your journal is up to you. Some people prefer to write in a notebook with a favorite pen. Others are much more comfortable typing away at the computer. Find a medium that’s comfortable for you and get in the habit of journaling daily. The format is up to you as well. Journal entries don’t have to be long, or take a lot of time to write. You can jot down a few bullets or lines that will serve as a memory aid for what happened that day. Or you can sit down and write long entries if that’s something you enjoy and if it’s something you find helpful. The most important part is that you start and figure out what type of journaling is right for you. Then make it a daily habit so you have it as a resource to build your courage and increase your self-confidence.

Don't Miss a Post!

Catch up on any posts you miss during the challenge. Here's the link: confidence and courage challenge posts.

Look Back and See How Far You’ve Come

Realizing how far I’ve come and how much I can actually accomplish when I put my mind to it is always a HUGE confidence booster for me. I’m sure it’s no different for you. To be honest, there’s a lot each and every one of us has done over the past few days, weeks, and even years that we can be proud of. Yet we often don’t see it. There always seems to be so much left on the to-do list, the stuff we didn’t do, or the things we failed at often stand out much more than our successes. It’s time to change our perspective and focus on the wins and how far we’ve come already.

Reflection and Gratitude

The simplest way to make sure you see and notice what you’ve accomplished and how far you’ve come is to get in the habit of spending a few minutes either in the morning or right before bed for reflection and gratitude.

When you wake up in the morning, before you jump out of bed, while you’re drinking that first cup of tea, or even while you’re taking your shower, think about what you’ve accomplished and what you’re grateful for. I like this morning habit because it sets a positive and confident tone for the whole day ahead. If that doesn’t work for you, try it at night, before you fall asleep. Make it a daily habit and watch your confidence grow.

Journaling And Habit Trackers

If you’re the type of person who needs to see it in black and white to believe it, give journaling a try. Spend a few minutes each day writing down your wins. If you’re trying to establish better habits, try a habit tracker. You basically set up a grid with the habits you want to establish and little check boxes next to them. Grid paper and excel spreadsheets work well for this. Then, as you complete your habit for the day, you get to check it off. It can be very motivating to see a month’s worth of little checkmarks on your habit tracker.

With the journal, make it a point to go back and review your wins on a regular basis and of course whenever you need a little boost of self-esteem and confidence. Look online for plenty of journaling and habit tracker ideas. Give the ones that look good a try and come up with a system that works for you.

Your Own Personal Cheerleader

Last but not least, consider getting your own personal cheerleader. No, I’m not suggesting you hire a person with pompoms to follow you around everywhere. Instead, find a good friend or family member who’s encouraging already and ask them to cheer you on. Give them a call whenever you’re feeling low, or don’t want to do something so they can encourage you and cheer you on to give you that boost of confidence to do what you need to do. Of course they should also help you by pointing out how much you’ve accomplished already.

Filling Up Your Tank for the Journey

“Rest for a few minutes? Are you crazy? I haven't finished the dishes yet!”

“Sure the yoga sessions refresh me, but my youngest just told me about a school project that's due tomorrow.”

“Coloring makes me feel so good and gives me a sense of accomplishment. But it's such a silly little hobby and I have important things to get done.”

Do voices like these ring through your head whenever you think about taking time for yourself? And if you DO fight them down, do you feel guilty the whole time you're “indulging yourself”?

Do You Just Tape Over the Engine Light?

You probably already know that you need to energize yourself before you can help others. If you burn yourself out, you do no one any good. Putting yourself under constant stress by not replenishing your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical resources is like the time I was in college and drove my car without changing the oil. Huh. After awhile, it broke down. It was completely out of oil, and that does nasty things to a car's insides. According to the American Psychological Association, more than half of all women surveyed said they were “highly stressed.” That figure was up in four years by 25% from an earlier survey.

In fact, in a 2011 Women's Health article (April, p. 60), the author quotes San Francisco clinical psychologist Steve Orma: “Many young women think if they're not working every second of every day, they're lazy. They are ashamed of taking breaks and feel they're not a ‘good' enough person if they aren't pushing themselves to the absolute limit. It has become a moral issue.”

So how do we overcome those feelings of guilt about spending time on ourselves?

Pie Charts, Support and Journaling

A 2013 article in Women in Higher Education (January, p. 22) warns about the risks to women's heart health when high levels of stress are maintained. The author mentions several ways to reduce stress, but three methods stood out to me: look at how you spend your time, develop a support network, and keep a journal.

I don't generally get too analytical about how I spend my time,  but here's something I tried. List out your daily routine, and assign a rough percentage estimate of how much of your day you spend on each task. Creating a pie chart of those estimates can reveal how little time you spend on yourself–and what time you could divert to stress-resisting activities.

Friends and family are helpful as a source of support when you're reinventing or renewing yourself, but if they're also the source of some of your stress, or if they don't fully understand why you want to change your life and follow your dreams, turn to a support group. The reason I set up the Reward Your Success™ support group on Facebook is to bring together people who are going through the same struggles you are.

Keeping a journal is a good way to express emotional issues you don't feel comfortable sharing aloud. Some studies suggest, according to this Women in Higher Education article, that regular journaling can strengthen the immune system. I find journaling can be aimless, though, which is why I designed the Success! journal as a step-by-step guide. When you list your goals in the journal and reward yourself for completing them, you begin your journey with a sense of purpose.