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Break-Through Journaling

February 10, 2017 by  
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Last week I talked about writing in a journal and I shared that I had written some of my very negative thoughts in mine. These are words and inner feelings that I had never shared with anyone. But what the journaling did for me and these thoughts was amazing.

A few days after writing these thoughts down, I re-read what I had written. Man, oh man … what a powerful reaction I have had in the days since.  It has lifted me up and has enhanced and improved my life almost like magic. I was so very surprised that just those few words that I wrote down on paper could have such a powerful effect on me and my life. Here is what I wrote:

“I didn’t have total follow through yesterday on my writing list of my intentions or goals and in fact I am finding that for a long time now I’ve not lived up to my self-promises and I see that I’ve been so very self-critical and have been berating and beating up myself cause I’m just not perfect like I want to be. I’ve been seeing that I’m very hard on myself and I really don’t forgive myself much although I forgive other people. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been feeling very good for going on two years. Maybe I ought to start forgiving myself and take more baby steps that really can turn into giant progress toward my goals like I’ve preached to my readers of my blog. Hmmm … I need to think about that.”

I was very surprised that, within a few days of re-reading those words, I began to feel so much better and noticed that I was not being so hard on myself. I kept thinking about taking baby steps and so now I am not inclined to berate and beat myself up. I think that this change of mind set must be due to my writing down my inner thoughts and that the act of writing it down changed something in my brain. What a breakthrough!

So, I would suggest you give journaling a chance if you haven’t already. Write down your inner most thoughts, especially the ones that you are struggling with or are getting you down. Then put them away and read them a little while later and see what your brain does with it. I’m sure it will get you to think about it and find a way to help yourself feel better along with being a great way just to get it out of your head and safely down on paper where you can, literally put it away for a while. At least until you are ready for your own journal break-through.10

The Super Power of Writing to Yourself

February 3, 2017 by  
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I’ve written about the huge value of keeping a journal of your life before. Writing about what you do, where you go, people you meet, and, probably most important of all, your inner most thoughts as you go through your life. I’ve kept a journal going on 55 years now. Yes, sometimes I go months without making any entries but still, I must say, I’ve made some major discoveries about myself and life in general from the entries I have made and they have helped me beyond what I ever would have expected.

Sometimes re-reading what I wrote years before brings me unexpected break-throughs. You know one of those ah-ha moments that really hit you hard and sometimes changes your life for the better. The latest breakthrough started when I began reading the “Life Story of Kathryn Baird Haroldsen” which are the writings of my mother, all gathered up and put together into a book by my father, Dr. Edwin O. Haroldsen, in 1995. Both of them have long since passed away but their writings still speak to me with great power.

Reading my parents’ words about their travels all over the world and their many great and exciting experiences was so very insightful for me. But when my mother shared on paper some of her inner most thoughts and feelings, it motivated me to get out my journal and put on paper some self-defeating and disturbing thoughts that I have had these last 2 years. These are thoughts that I haven’t shared with a single soul.

For some reason that maybe only our brains know about, when I later re-read my very negative inner thoughts it changed me and, surprisingly, did so in a very good and positive way. I now want to share that experience and the lessons I learned with others so they may have a positive breakthrough like I did that will help their lives. Next week I will share exactly what I wrote and how it began to change me and my life. In the meantime, if you don’t already, start journaling about whatever comes to mind. You never know what you might write down that will bring you your own break-through in the future.

Writing Down Your Fears to Defeat Them

October 7, 2016 by  
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Last week my blog was all about our great brains and what they can do for us, almost automatically, if we take time to write down our thoughts, goals, and ambitions. It’s a way to tap into our subconscious so it will release and make known to us what we really need in our lives. It can then help us set course and push us to keep plodding along to reach our objectives. And we can do all this simply by using a pad and pencil.

The author of the book Write It Down, Make It Happen, Henriette Anne Klauser, goes deeper into this thing of writing down what you want, saying we need to write down everything including the bad stuff such as our fears and anxieties because “writing things down can make ‘feelings’ speed bumps not roadblocks.”

I’ve never read anyone suggesting that writing down the negative stuff can be a good thing but this author says exactly that.

She points out that it can be very liberating and beneficial to the human brain if in addition to writing down our dreams and goals we also write down our fears because as she says “writing is a good way to force negative emotional reactions into words and not stomach churning.” She used a friend’s apprehension about traveling to Europe which was overcome by writing her fears down, as an example. “Writing down your fears,” she explained, “takes negativity and anxiety out of the gut … she conquered her fears by writing them down.”

It reminds me of all that self-talk we do and how people who study the ‘chatter box’ in our head are always preaching and teaching us to push back and change the negative self-talk to positive chatter. Now we find that there is an additional way, and maybe a more powerful way, to do that simply by writing down our fears or basically having a place to park your worries.

She goes on to say “Writing separates the dream from the fear. Writing about your anxiety makes it an entity existing outside of your goal. Writing down your fears takes away their hold on you; writing out the reverse of your fears (and upping the ante, making the opposite statement not just the fear in reverse, but something even more attractive) empowers and energizes you to start thinking differently, to attract the kind of answers that, rather than keep you tied down, go with a worldview of solutions.”

Discovering this strategy of writing down the negative, the anxiety, the fearful thoughts really got to me and I’ve begun to put it to the test to see if it really works. My wife began planning for a trip to South Africa to do an African Safari. After setting it all up I began to worry about so many things that could go wrong–from catching a disease to getting stomped by an elephant to those small airplanes in a country that is not exactly into precision and safety checks. Plus, there were thoughts of getting mugged or robbed in some of the cities that are known for very high crime rates.

Writing down my fears and anxieties in addition to talking through my negative thinking with other people is beginning to make a difference. In fact, the very next day after I wrote down my fears and anxieties I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night with worry as I had been doing ever since we set up our African trip.

Wow … that was fast and it worked! It’s like taking worries out of your brain and putting them in a box. It really is that easy. Try it yourself!

 

Lesson from the Life of Billy Crystal

January 16, 2015 by  
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I want to continue discussing the theme we had last week on writing your thoughts, ideas and life into a journal. I have strong and passionate feelings about this process of making a record of your life, about having the ability to read over all those ups and downs and the lessons we learn along the way.

This past week, I read about the fascinating life and thoughts of Billy Crystal in his incredible autobiography Still Foolin’ ‘Em. He wrote the book when he was turning 65 and it’s really a great read. It’s packed full of very funny stuff but I was quite a bit more impressed by his deep thoughts and feelings on everything from his family including his wonderful wife, kids and grand-kids plus the big impact his father, mother and grandmother had on him, to his numerous famous friends and not so famous friends and business associates.  I’ll tell you, if you read his book you will quickly grow to love and admire this man. He inspires you and gives you some great insights into the human mind and behavior.

He and his famous friends certainly lived the philosophy of “feel the fear and do it anyway”. That is something we all need to remind ourselves to believe in and practice. I think most of us look at famous and really successful people and think that they don’t have great fears like us but nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone has fears, but the key to success and a great life is to plow right through those fears and “do it anyway”.

The other great lesson I learned from Billy Crystal, or I should say I re-learned and reminded myself to do more of, was the huge value of people networking. I was astounded at how many friends and business contacts Billy had. Even though Billy is super talented I don’t believe he would have soared nearly as high as he did without his people networking. I’m talking hundreds of incredibly influential people he got to know who helped him on his path to such tremendous success. And did he ever soar! His success was not only as a stand-up comedian but as an actor in all those wonderful movies, TV shows and even on the Broadway stage. He made us laugh which is so very good for our minds and souls plus he gave us so many hours of movie and TV entertainment. Now through his book, he is giving even more.

I certainly don’t think Billy is even close to being finished as he approaches his 67th birthday on March 14th of this year. The biggest lesson I think we should take away from Mr. Billy Chrystal is that all of us need to record our life, our activities and, most importantly, our thinking. This can be not only helpful to ourselves when we re-read what our thoughts were at different stages of our lives but also that your autobiography will be equally helpful to others. So keep making those journal entries and leave a legacy for your family, friends and everyone to enjoy as well as learning some great lessons from your own life.

Great Insights from the Best Teacher

January 9, 2015 by  
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Have you started writing in your own journal yet? If you haven’t, I’m going to try to persuade you to start doing it. Why? Because of the many, many benefits you’ll get not just at the time you write them out, but also down the road. This will be especially true if you write more about how you are feeling and what is quietly running through your brain from day to day.

In addition to writing your thoughts down, you will also want to record what you are doing including those steps you are taking to reach your goals. By writing out your thoughts and feelings as well as your goal items, you will no doubt find, as I have, that the biggest benefits come later when you re-read and revisit those thoughts that were running through your brain at different points of your life. You really can experience some major breakthroughs and some life changing and life enhancing discoveries just by looking back and seeing where you were and what you were doing at various times in your past.

I’ve been keeping my “thought journals” since I was 19 years old. I will admit that as I go back and read some of my thoughts and reasoning it’s down-right hilarious, but I’ve been shocked more than once that some of my recorded thoughts as a young 19 year old are rather profound. It’s so interesting to me to actually learn from myself, from my own words, concepts and thoughts that I had long ago forgotten. Many of us try to learn more about ourselves and want more insights into our minds and our lives. With more insights into our minds we can make big improvements to our lives. And who doesn’t want to be happier, healthier and wealthier? Well, that is what journaling can help you with.

Now as we begin a new year I think it would be the perfect time to start your own “thought journal”. If you are already journaling your journey and recording your thoughts and feelings, keep it up. And maybe now it would be good to take some time and re-read some old entries and see what you can learn from yourself. You may even come across some old goals that you logged but forgot about and it will make you realize that it’s time to hit the reset button on those goals.

I just re-read some of my thoughts and thinking from early 2012 and they certainly got me jump started for this new year. Maybe the best teacher you will ever have is actually you! But you do need to pay close attention to yourself and to you inner thinking and be sure to capture and record those thoughts and feelings. Then you will be able to revisit in order to learn and discover great insights from you, one of your greatest teachers, at a later time.

The Gift of Journaling

January 10, 2014 by  
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One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is the gift of a “journal of your life”.  I’m talking about something much more important than just keeping a diary.  Yes a diary is part of it–recording where you go, people you meet and what you experience–but to make it life enhancing and with maximum meaning, you must write and record your inner thoughts, not just what has occurred. Things like your biggest dreams, goals and ambitions will help you define what you were thinking about in prior years. You can find these insights to be extremely valuable when you go back and review those years.  It’s like having your own personal time machine.

 

In the last few days of 2013 and the first few days of 2014, I’ve had such a wonderful time  reviewing my past experiences including my trips, the people I’ve met, my various goals as they changed and re-focused over the years and, most importantly, my inner thoughts along the way. Think about it–what a great thing it is to be able to relive and bask in all that was great this past year and also have the opportunity to learn some valuable lessons from both the good and the bad stuff that happened. Sometimes it’s like reading about a totally different person; in many ways you are a different person now than you were a year ago.

Also try to take the time–usually at the end of a year or the beginning of a new year– to go back and revisit myself when I was a 30, 40, 50 or  60 years old.  In fact, I can even visit myself when I was 18 and 19 years old since that’s when I started my journal.  Believe me, some of my thoughts back then were down right funny and crazy. Sometimes, especially as I visit that 35 year old Mark Haroldsen I am embarrassed and don’t even like that guy.  Wow, was I ever a hyper driven self-centered business and real estate warrior.  That guy was so full of himself and with so much physical and mental energy! (I’d sure like some of the energy now but without the huge ego.)

If you have not kept a journal of your life before now, it’s not too late. No matter what age you are, be sure to write down what you are feeling as well as your inner most thoughts including your relationships, dreams and goals. Record your successes and failures and what it caused your mind to think. Express in detail your positive and negative thoughts, your great fears and your great strengths.   And when you use your own personal time machine and later review your journal, be it months or years later, I promise you will reap great rewards and learn so much about yourself. You will be thrilled that you took the time, even it is done just weekly or monthly or even once a year. I think to know yourself is probably the biggest “gift” that you can give yourself and to journal throughout your life is one of the best ways to do just that.