All Problems Are Self-Made
We all have negative thoughts. Life is not always rainbows and daisies. But most people believe that happiness is the absence of negativity and problems. Happiness comes from confidence – confidence that you can do anything you set your mind to and overcome anything. This is exactly what a regular journaling practice can help you do. You will become confident to find answers for yourself and solve your own problems.
Journaling is a super-charged, very focused and dedicated way of solving your problems.
I have neglected journaling for a long time because I had the belief that it would just amplify all the negative thoughts and feelings I was busy with already. I was afraid to put a flashlight on my messed up mind and have my mess black on white.
How does writing down my problems make them go away? I thought journaling is banal and childish.
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However, over the years, I have learnt the true power of writing things down.
My self-coaching and journaling practice has transformed my thinking and beliefs. I have uncovered limiting beliefs and stories that did not serve me and that I have carried around without questioning them. I have discovered hidden inner strengths I was not aware of.
Journaling does not solve your problems directly, but it helps separate the actual facts of your life from the drama you create around it. It’s not the problem that is the problem, it’s the drama.
“The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem.” – Captain Jack Sparrow
I love talking about strategies and problem-solving, as this is something I have become very good at, both in my professional as well as personal life.
So today I want to share how to use the self-coaching and journaling tool for yourself.
Step 1: Thought Dump
I find the best way to kick off a good journaling session is to just write everything down that comes to my mind. I call that a ‘thought dump’ or ‘thought download’.
Once it is out of your head, you can have a more objective view on it. Your brain will be able to focus better because it doesn’t have to keep ‘chewing’ on all the stuff that is in your head. Most of the thoughts we have spinning everyday are just ‘thought drama’.
Just sit down and dump all your thoughts on paper. Get it out of your system. Just do some free-writing, completely without judgement. Don’t read back what you wrote, forget if it makes sense, whether the grammar and spelling is correct… just write everything down: what is happening, what you think and what you feel about it.
Step 2: Reflect
Now here’s where the rubber meets the road: Once everything is out of my head, I can reflect on it. The main question I ask myself is “Why am I thinking that?”
As most of our thoughts are just drama and worst-case scenarios fueled by fear and doubt, it is extremely helpful to have some quiet time to reflect on what we keep ourselves busy with all day, ‘wasting’ precious energy on it.
Building awareness of what you are thinking and why you are thinking is the first step to changing how you think about things and replacing your thoughts with better ones over time.
Step 3: Remove the Judgement
Most of the time, we think negative thoughts, add some drama to it and then pile suffering on top of it by judging ourselves for our negativity.
A girlfriend of mine is quite interested in personal development, so she called me one day saying: “But I should not be thinking and saying such negative things, or I will manifest more of it!” Many people do that. They have negative thoughts, then judge themselves for having negative thoughts and force some fake positivity on themselves they don’t believe.
You cannot fake optimism. And you cannot force and judge yourself into it. You cannot hate yourself to love. Your brain is so much smarter than that.
Yes, thoughts and words matter. How we think and what we say and feel creates our reality. But in order to change it, you cannot ignore the negative feelings. The only way is through. You cannot skip any chapters.
Have compassion with yourself. Don’t punish yourself for having negative thoughts. We all have them. It is how we process them what matters. Which is exactly what you can become extremely good at.
Step 4: Ask Questions
The most effective way to solve problems and process negative thoughts is to ask yourself questions.
We have been conditioned to always look for answers outside ourselves. We ask teachers, our parents and friends to tell us what to do.
The truth is: you have everything you need inside you. No matter who you ask for advice, it is just their version of reality. Honestly, understanding that nobody has figured it all out and we are all just winging it, was completely life-changing.
Learn to rely on yourself for answers. You can do that by asking yourself questions.
I find doing this in the evening before going to bed puts your brain to work and it comes up with the most amazing ideas out of nowhere.
While we sleep, our brain is very busy processing all the things from the day. I find I wake up with a totally different energy when I think of something positive before going to sleep.
As you lie in bed preparing for your nightly slumber, remember that the last thought you have in your mind can last up to four hours in your subconscious mind. – Dr. Wayne Dyer
I totally underestimated the power of my brain until I woke up one morning and had a glorious solution to something I was obsessively thinking about for weeks.
Forget “I Don’t Know”
Most people’s default answer to anything is “I don’t know.” This is just laziness and staying stuck in confusion and overwhelm. More often than not, we DO know.
Our brains are the best search engine in the world – better than Google. You just have to know how to use it. If you ask the right questions, your brain will go to work and activate all its capacity to find an answer – one that does not come from someone else.
Asking your brain questions is a powerful tool that will take the negativity out of your thoughts and focus on finding solutions instead of adding more drama.
Using your own brain to answer your own questions will make you a better thinker. It increases your confidence in your capabilities and wisdom so you will never think “I don’t know” ever again.
The most important thing is to ask useful, open-ended questions. So instead of saying “Why does that always happen to me?” (your brain will focus on finding answers to that and confirm your hypothesis), ask yourself:
- “How can I…”
- “What can I do to…?”
- “If I did know, what would I do/say/think?”
Step 5: Repeat
Practice makes perfect. Thinking and using the power of your brain is a skill you can learn and practice. The more you use the steps above, you better you’ll become at thinking, observing your thoughts and tapping into your creative power. This is true leadership.
Journaling is not just a profane practice. Don’t be fooled by the its simplicity. It has been a real gamechanger for me. If you want to master your mind and your mindset, start journaling and coaching yourself.
Gain Back Control Over Your Emotions
Journaling and reflecting your thoughts puts you in the driver’s seat of your emotions. It works for every area of your life: money, relationships, career, or health.
We cannot always control where our thoughts go, but a regular journaling practice will help you identify the limiting beliefs and thought drama as such when they bubble up instead of defaulting into self-pity and thought-looping that drains your energy. Instead of ignoring and judging your emotions, use them as fuel to your inner wisdom to find solutions to your problems, and not evidence.
You can become the master of your thoughts not by repeating random affirmations but by first treating the root cause of your ‘problems’. Trying to change your thoughts and feelings by forcing yourself to stop negative thoughts does not work.
Take a few minutes a day just to observe your thoughts, increase your awareness of why you are thinking and feeling that and ask yourself high-quality questions.
Being proactive about your own thoughts and separate your ‘problems’ from the drama you create about it is the most important thing you can do for yourself.
Get Your Free Template
Need more ideas for useful questions to ask yourself? I have created a gorgeous template for you to use and prepared over 100 journaling prompts (=questions) for you to use right away. Download the free Money Journal here and start journaling today!