Read our guide to Reflective Journaling

Reflective journalling

Adopting a reflective journalling practice will complete your day with a recognition of the positive that’s rooted in reality. Consciously acknowledging what’s gone well allows you to let go of your demands and expectations of yourself as you let go of the day. Alyson Morley writes in more detail about her daily journaling which she briefly described in her podcast chat with Laura.

I have a daily discipline of making a journal entry, which I have dropped and picked up over a few years. I’m now on a continuous stretch since June and I’ve decided I will keep it going for at least a year. It’s easy to fit in to the daily routine and provides a regular reminder of my best self’s response to life.

My journal entries are a 3x3 – I write down, at the end of each day:

  • 3 lifeshocks* (moments that stand out) I’ve experienced during the day;

  • 3 acknowledgements of myself for actions/choices from the day;

  • 3 things I’m grateful for from the day.

I record three of my lifeshocks (which can be really little things as well as major events) because it helps me to notice how I’ve been during the day. If I found it a lifeshock that I was stuck behind a learner driver going slow on my way into work, was that because I was running late and then called myself ‘lazy, disorganised, a useless waste of space’ and worse, as I crawled along? Was I upset by a friend’s message because I blamed myself for not getting in touch with them more frequently? I don’t process every lifeshock in detail, but they give me a temperature check of my state during the day.

Then I write down 3 acknowledgements of myself, based on my choices and actions that day. If I’ve taken on a particular discipline, such as a target number of steps, I acknowledge myself for achieving the goal. If I consciously chose to reinforce behaviours I’m actively developing – not saying yes to every request for example, I acknowledge that. I acknowledge myself when I make time and space to connect with people and when I honour my commitments, meet deadlines and deliver as I said I would. Sometimes I acknowledge that I noticed not choosing or behaving as I would have liked and forgive myself for not hitting the mark.

The final trio is about gratitude – three things I’m grateful for that day. Again these can be the big things in life – beautiful landscapes, great art – or the very everyday – the perfect cup of tea, the first log fire of the year, a kind gesture. Over the last six months I’ve recorded my gratitude for art exhibitions, almost all the people I know, the places I’ve spent time in, the kindness of strangers, delicious food, hilarious jokes and family celebrations. It prompts me to consciously recognise positive events and it isn’t difficult to find three causes of gratitude, even at the end of “one of those days”.

What effect does this journaling have? For me, it rounds off the day with a deliberate recognition of the wins and joyful aspects. I positively reinforce chosen new behaviours, acknowledge the support and connection from others and see myself in the context of the world I live in. It reminds me that, at my core, I am a powerfully loving woman operating from a place of joy and compassion. And that’s a better end to the day than late news or a final scroll through my emails. Why not take this on until Christmas and see what you learn?

*I know “lifeshocks” is probably an unfamiliar term. It’s the name given by the More To Life programme to events that happen which we have a strong reaction to – usually because it’s something we don’t like. Lifeshocks are the moments when our demands, expectations and desires bump up against reality and we have the opportunity to realign ourselves with life as it actually is, not as we’ve been inventing it in our heads. For a thorough explanation of how to do this – and change your life – I highly recommend the book “Lifeshocks: And how to love them” by Sophie Sabbage, a senior trainer with More To Life.

Alyson is hosting her annual Yoga and Visioning workshop at Studio 70 on January 6th. Join her you get clear about your vision for 2019 and reflect on 2018.

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