Mindful Journaling Changed My Life

For over a decade, I have felt like I was floundering. I’ve always been very sensitive (and pretty dramatic) and I’ve always worried because I didn’t have a solid career or life plan. I felt like I was aimlessly wandering through my life, and the thought of waking up 80 years old and feeling I’d wasted my life made me so anxious. 

I have always been hyperaware of how fleeting life is. I remember even as a child, I was scared of wasting time, and not living fully. We lost my dear Uncle Fergie during my teens, very suddenly, and I think this unexpected loss made me realise how unpredictable life is. 

As a result, I’ve always felt motivated to live my life fully. I have always wanted to take big risks, live adventurously, and go after exciting things I wanted in my life. 

This obsession with living a great life, and not wasting it, is part of what made me so anxious. I clung to this fear of wasting time so aggressively, that I let myself believe because I didn’t have a concrete plan, I was somehow going to get lost along the way and coast through my life.

This week, while journaling with the awesome Liz White’s Transformational Journaling Masterclass, I had the realisation that I’ve let anxiety and doubt completely cloud my vision. I hadn’t even noticed I have already been living my life the exact way I want to. 

I have made every major life decision based on how I wanted to feel. I took a degree based on my passion for literature and writing, and how alive I felt immersed in fictional worlds and beautiful poems. 

I moved to France for no other reason than I had always wanted to live in Paris. I didn’t worry about post-graduate studying or my career, and I simply moved to a country I had spent years dreaming of. 

When I chose to move to Canada, it was on a whim. While I adored Paris, I was feeling heavy and worn down by the city. I was craving silence and wide open spaces and clean air, but moving to Canada terrified me. I was heartbroken to be leaving, I was so torn. Paris set my soul on fire, and I remember so vividly thinking; “Why the hell am I leaving?’ I had no idea what was driving me to leave Paris and I wished my heart was calling me to stay there, instead of move across the world.

But my god, my heart and soul knew exactly what it was doing. I was guided by my intuition, the Universe, whatever you believe in; I was guided to Canada. I met Ben within a month. We were living together within 3, we were in love within 4, and were pregnant within 7 months of knowing each other. 

It was a crazy whirlwind, and scary, and exhilarating, and so perfect I couldn’t have dreamt it up any better.

We decided to embark on a life together as parents, after only 7 months of knowing each other. We loved each other so fiercely, and despite the fact we were taking such an incredible leap of faith in each other, I never felt more certain, calm and sure of anything in my life. 

Willow is the absolute light of my life. I could never, never have believed how deeply and completely I could love. My life is so complete with her and Ben. The decision to have a child, as a terrified unexpectedly pregnant 24year old, was based purely on how I felt. It made no sense to be having a child when I was in such an uncertain and transitory period of my life. It made no sense to have a child with someone I barely knew, in a country where I held a temporary visa and had never envisioned raising children or making my home permanently. 

Yet, I knew it was right for me. 

Unknowingly, I have been living my life so deeply connected to my soul, and my heart, and my intuition, but I let the voice of fear shout so loudly I missed the beauty and perfectly aligned nature of my life. 

I have spent years of my life berating myself for not knowing what career I wanted, for not knowing what I wanted to do. I had this deep yearning to do something, but I always felt as though I couldn’t quite see through the haze of uncertainty. I couldn’t fully see, feel and know what i wanted. 

But shit, I was doing it all along. I was picking a degree that excited me, I was moving to foreign cities that lit my soul on fire, I was diving into motherhood and a beautiful loving relationship; I was listening to my heart and soul every step of the way. 

I have doubted myself my whole life, I have doubted my worth, and my path, and I have spent so much time living in fear and doubt. But despite this I have continued to listen to my intuition and make my decisions based on love. 

I have loved myself my whole life, and I didn’t even realise. I continued to love myself even when fear told me I was unloveable. My sub conscious is so deeply rooted in love, that even the loudest and most scared fearful voice couldn’t shake my core foundation of love.

I feel like I’ve suddenly seen myself for the first time. I have already been living my life so aligned with what I want to feel. I have put my sense of adventure and desire to enjoy myself at the forefront of everything I’ve ever done. My worries and fears have simply been stories I’ve told myself. My soul has always known what I needed, and where I had to go.

This realisation makes me feel so empowered. It’s like I’ve completely removed all fear of failure from my life. I’ve already thrown myself into several situations that could have failed spectacularly. But every single time, I’ve found something more wonderful than I could have imagined. 

I don’t need to worry about what the future holds, or how I’m going to achieve everything I want to. Because I know that whatever feels good to go into, will turn out beautifully. 

“Leaning into uncertainty is my superpower” rings true. I make exceptionally wonderful life choices when I listen to how I feel, and make scary wonderful choices.

I can’t recommend Liz’s masterclass enough (and yes, that’s my gushing instagram message on her landing page). I used her prompts, and recommendation of mediating before hand (her free guided meditation can be found here) , and within half a page of writing all the above came tumbling out. My heart was racing, I was shaking, and crying. I was blown away to realise I’ve always loved myself, and I’ve always known what to do. I spent years putting myself down, but under it all I was still loving myself completely and building a beautiful life. 

Taking time to quieten your mind, and explore what’s going on is so powerful. I’d never journaled after meditation, or with the techniques Liz sets out. I only had to scratch the surface, and suddenly I could see everything more clearly. 

So I challenge you to take some time out, find a quiet spot, spend 5 minutes breathing deeply or using a guided meditation, before pouring your thoughts onto paper. You might be surprised at what comes up when you give your mind the room to stretch itself. 

Why You Need A Gratitude Practise In Your Life

I’ve learnt over the years that one of the most powerful tools I can use to pull myself out of a bad mood, is to be grateful.

When I first heard about gratitude lists, I kinda scoffed. It doesn’t sound like much, and without ever trying it, I decided it was nonsense and didn’t work. 

Reading about people who were always optimistic, and sat down to write about things they were grateful for, made me angry. Like anyone can be happy all the time?

I’m not sure why it made me angry. I guess I felt attached to my anger, for want of a better word. It is easier to be angry about something, or everything, than be vulnerable and admit that something is hurting, or you don’t feel happy. 

It’s waaaay less scary to blame your unhappiness on the traffic, the hot weather, the idiots you encounter, than admit to yourself your mindset is the problem.

It took years of slowly building up my self-confidence and self-esteem, of examining why I felt angry so often, and resolving to heal some of those issues, before I could fully recognise how in control of my thoughts and feelings I am. 

I have come to appreciate over the last few years, especially since Willow was born, how valuable practising gratitude is. When I am feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or stressed out, it helps bring me back to centre and calms me. 

Regardless of how I’m feeling, I try to write a gratitude list every day, or at least a few days a week. It’s easy to get yourself into the habit of mental health care like this when you’re feeling upbeat, so that when it’s difficult, or you’re tired and overwhelmed, you already have your established habits to fall back on. 

I suggest jotting down three things you are grateful for before bed, or in the morning before work (or both!) and why you are grateful for them. 

For example; I am grateful for my house, because it is a warm, safe, dry and comfortable place to live. Noting the ‘why’ really helps hone in and pinpoint your gratitude. 

You could rattle off “I’m grateful for my house, my job, my family”, but without really examining why you are grateful for each thing, the gratitude doesn’t impact you as much. We’re aiming for the warm and fuzzies here, so really focusing and getting to the root of your gratitude is important. 

My top three tips for starting a gratitude list are:
 

Use a sweet little notepad, or diary that you love

I’m a total stationary geek and have been known to have at least five empty notepads on hand at any given time. There is something so delicious about buying fresh, clean, beautiful stationary (or is it just me…). Having a special place to write your gratitude lists can make the whole experience feel more special and sacred. 
 

Start small

It can be difficult to shift your mindset after a long time of focusing on the negatives. I know I struggled to begin with. Even if you only start with one thing each day, that would be wonderful. If you’re struggling to think of something; what happened to you today that was pleasant? “I’m grateful for my barista at Starbucks because they were friendly and made my delicious coffee just the way I like it”, or “I’m grateful for my bed because it is warm and comfortable.” Who doesn’t love their bed after all? Find something little you can be grateful for, and after a while your mindset will shift and you will see more and more good around you.
 

Be consistent

 Like any habit, you can fall out of the grateful mindset. I am guilty of feeling good and forgetting or putting off my gratitude practise. Right enough, days, weeks will pass, and I’ll find myself grumping about nothing and being a grouch. When you have a designated time each day to reflect and be grateful, it really does affect your overall outlook and ability to find and feel joy. Similarly, when you neglect this practise, you can slip into old habits and find yourself being frustrated and grumpy. 

 

Think of your gratitude, and positive mindset, as a muscle. If you don’t train it properly, it will not be strong. Work at it steadily, and you will find happiness and a joyful outlook will become your new normal. 

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Have any of you tried starting a gratitude practise? Or do you have another habit that helps you stay grateful? I’m always interested to hear how people keep themselves feeling good, so pop a comment below, shoot me an email or connect with me on Instagram!