Am I in love or am I in fear?
Nicola and James have been dating for almost a year. The early months, full of easy-breezy times and headline romantic moments has been a joyful experience. These days Nicola finds herself in a state of panic and confusion.
A constant worrier, she starts to come up with imaginary concerns about whether or not James is the one. She tries hard to have fun, but the inner ruminating distracts her from enjoying the relationship. If she only knew a way to clear out the mental and emotional jumble!
Writing through the fear
Nicola’s yoga buddy Eloise picks up on her increasing talk of being unsettled in the relationship. Nicola opens up to Eloise of her relationship jitters. Eloise asks Nicola if she’s tried to write out her feelings in a journal. “The last time I wrote in a journal was in grade school. It was a series of drawings with me and my family. I pretended the journal was my best friend. Why do you think journaling would help me now?”
Eloise shares that journaling helped her get through her recent breakup. “When my wellness coach spoke to me about it, I thought it was a boring idea. But I wanted to get over my heartache and got tired of hearing myself blubber every day. Journaling became my private healing guide. I could write or draw out what happened that day about how I was feeling.”
After a few more days of feeling poorly, Nicola remembers Eloise’s suggestion. She picks up a journal and writes one word at the top of the page:
She writes the following message:
“I am tired of worrying about my relationship with James. I want to feel happy like I did six months ago. Here is the difference between how I felt then and how I feel now.”
Wait a minute!
Nicola stops writing. She looks down at her words and realizes her brain is taking the lead and pulling her in the wrong direction. She writes these statements about herself:
“You’re too ugly/fat/boring to keep his interest.”
“You’ll never meet anyone, so why even bother?”
“You’re going to lose him because you’re so desperate.”
“You can’t trust James. He’s looking for someone better than me.”
“Get out before you get hurt.”
No wonder why I feel so terrible. Look at what I have been telling myself! She puts down her journal, takes a deep breath and goes for a long walk. She lets the fresh air touch her skin and the sun warm her heart.
Nicola visualizes her first journal entry. Although she is self-conscious about writing down so much negativity about herself and the relationship, she also feels peaceful for the first time. This is a sensation she hasn’t experienced in a while. She stays curious about the peaceful feeling and chooses to try another round of journal at the end of the day. She wants to see if journaling is the reason for her new feeling.
Nicola lets out a big sigh and writes this word at the top of the page:
The journal entry following her declaration of love says:
Well it looks like I have some work to do around love. If I want to be in a relationship with James, I need to get rid of what is in the way of loving myself.
Eureka! Upon writing those last two words, Nicola’s heart feels lighter. She reads her next words out loud and with confidence:
I am worthy of love.
I am perfect and complete.
I am steady and strong.
I trust myself. I trust James.
I am excited about being in a relationship and James and choose connection over insecurity.
Nicola sends a text message to James.
“Hi. I think you’re wonderful. I am so glad you’re in my life. Looking forward to seeing you soon! Xo”
Before she sleeps, Nicola dedicates her journal to Eloise for showing her this helpful way to care for herself.
A personal enlightenment tool
Getting feelings out on paper can help us sift out what is happening inside us. We can pursue an objective (third person) perspective on our experiences and decide on a game plan of keeping or letting them go. When we take the time for journaling we make room for change in these five healthy and hopeful ways.
- Making room for mystery by unraveling uncertainty Like Nicola, we have the capacity to be curious and mystery-driven by life or lost and drama-driven. One path gives us fuel and the other drains us. Journaling shows us which path we are following. We may not yet feel like moving with purpose, but the clarity alone creates a calm effect in our minds and bodies.
- Making room for exploration by undoing expectationsNicola expected James to cure her loneliness. Fact is, only Nicola can release loneliness out of her system. For some of us, loneliness is a crutch we have been carrying for years. The willingness to explore this side of ourselves is a courageous act. There is a way out of loneliness, and journaling helps identify solutions. By exploring (not expecting) the possibilities in finding the other side to loneliness Nicola is on her way to solid ground.
- Making room for understanding by clearing commotionUnderstanding why and how we make choices, behave and feel is a complex process. Nicola realizes her negative statements create inner suffering and impact the growth of her relationship with James. She sees that her fears are a problem. By thinking this way day after day, the mind and heart accumulate painful thoughts and don’t stop to purge them. We end up in a state of commotion and make little room for understanding and compassion. Even five minutes of journaling can reveal how much noise lives in us.
- Making room for creativity by conquering limitationsCan you see how Nicola has put the relationship in a box? Can you see the labels on the box called “Unworthiness” “Skepticism” and “Rejection”? When we describe ourselves in these ways we have the choice of staying in the box or asking our imaginations to do something else. After Nicola’s walk outside, her imagination opens up and she decides to tap into love instead of living in limitation.
- Making room for present by clearing the pastJournaling is a great present-moment activity. You may write about the past but you can’t stay there. Most times, we don’t like what we are writing or we may get tired of seeing the same words on paper. A blank page is a special opportunity to write something new and step into a new reality. Journaling can help us move forward and puts us in touch with our authentic self.