Are you ready to challenge yourself? Here, I give you some effective mindfulness based practices that you can start doing already today! All you need is an open mind and you’re good to go.
This week’s challenge is about writing a self reflection journal. You might already be familiar with gratitude journals, for example. Therefore you might think that this is nothing new and might want to skip this, but I still suggest you to keep reading and decide once finished, whether you will accept this challenge or not. This is something different than the usual ones, I promise.
What is a self reflection journal?
Self reflection journal is a journal that you write consistently – usually on a daily basis for a certain period of time – to reflect on your experiences, thoughts, emotions, and even sensations. It is all about writing down about what you have experienced or felt that day. Even though these things are written down, the purpose is not to spend too much time on overthinking or analyzing what you write. Instead, it is about writing what first comes to your mind when you think of the moment you choose to write about. There is no right or wrong way to write a self reflection journal – because you do it for yourself and nobody else – however I will provide you some guidance on the questions you can ask yourself to help you take all out of it.
Why should you reflect on pleasant & unpleasant moments?
As you already know, there are many kinds of self reflection journals out there available in books or on the Internet. Majority of those focus on aspects like gratitude, self love, appreciation or self care, for instance. It is no secret that those journals help you to raise the aware of the people or things in life to be happy about and appreciate every day. Also, those can provide great help for some worst or sad days. I fully agree on all that. However, in this self reflection journal we are going write a bit from another perspective. We will be reflecting mindfully, which means adding body sensations, emotions and thoughts related to each of the chosen moment.
Why are we doing it this way? As important as it already is to recognize the positive and negative moments, it is very useful to dig deeper and observe, what happens in your body and mind especially during those intense (pleasant or unpleasant) moments or experiences. By understanding what happens in your body in certain moments, you start to recognize some emotional and physical patterns that most probably are triggered automatically, without you even realizing it. This further leads to our goal of accepting different sensations, thoughts or emotions as they are. And without first observing, you cannot accept. How could you accept something that you are not even aware of? This is the reason why we are self reflecting mindfully.
How to do it?
This week we focus both on positive and negative; the purpose is to track pleasant and unpleasant moments. However, in the sake of clarity you can for sure extend the writing period into two weeks; first week writing about the pleasant moments and the next one switching to the unpleasant ones. How to do this and what exactly should you write down on a daily basis? Below are the questions you should ask yourself. Remember that these are only for your guidance, and in case you feel like you want to add something, feel free to do it! The most important thing here is to include your body sensations, emotions and thoughts related to the pleasant and unpleasant moments. Try to reply as detailed as possible, following your intuition and first thoughts that cross your mind:
1. Description of the moment (choose at least 1 moment per day)
2. Were you aware of the moment once it happened?
3. What did you feel in your body at that moment? Different sensations? In which body parts?
4. What kind of thoughts and emotions you experienced during the moment?
In case you find it difficult to answer all of the questions, for example if you cannot remember how you felt in your body during a moment you chose to write about, that’s ok. You can try to remember the next time you experience a similar moment. Be kind towards yourself.
To finish, I want to highlight that even though this self reflection practice might at first sight seem to be very easy, you might get surprised in case it actually isn’t. Especially, once reflecting on those unpleasant moments, it might not be easy to turn back and reflect on possibly very intense thoughts or emotions that you most probably wanted to forget already. If it feels difficult, remember that you are doing this for yourself, moving day by day towards accepting yourself.
x Mari Susanna