About two years ago I read a book that was different than any other of the many journal writing books I’ve read, Writing for Emotional Balance by Beth Jacobs, PhD. I was really impressed—and I’m not easily impressed, but when I am—I really love to spread the word.
I liked the book so much that I wrote an article about it in this newsletter in February 2008. Then just a few months later, at a conference, I bumped into Beth Jacobs and I was even more impressed: Beth is knowledgeable, creative, and filled with insights about how emotions work and techniques and exercises about how journal writing helps manage emotions.
Beth, who continues to refine, research, and synthesize information about brains, emotions, and writing, is soon going to offer a six-week online, flex schedule course. The class is called Writing for Emotional Balance: Building your Emotional Skills. This is a fabulous opportunity and I’m not sure when we’ll have the class again. So sign up now!
Here’s another way to expand your journaling–to memoir writing. Have you ever thought about writing your life story? Memoir writing is cousin of journaling, but distinctly different. If you are thinking you would like to use your journals as a basis to write a memoir, I strongly recommend this free, IAJW members only, one-hour telechat with Linda Joy Myers on the topic: From Journaling to Story—The Joy of Writing a Memoir on Thursday, September 30. Linda Joy will guide you from the familiar territory of journaling into the world of story making. This telechat is for IAJW members only. Learn more about this telechat!
Not a member of the International Association for Journal Writing yet? Well, NOW is the time to join. The price is a reasonable $49 per year. Not only are you invited to be a part of live monthly telechats and interact with some of the best journal experts in the field (Kay Adams, Christina Baldwin, Lucia Cappachione, Eric Maisel, Gabriele Rico, Sheila Bender), but there’s a large and growing library of telechats to listen to, five-minute informational videos to watch, dozens of articles to read, visual prompts to spark journal writing, discounts for online classes and e-books, and more! Come take a look!
This month’s article is by psychologist Beth Jacobs. This is a preview of some of the work that Beth will discuss in greater depth in the online class which starts next week, October 5. There’s also an article about ways to customize the LifeJournal Daily Pulse input scales.
Two Basic Tools of Writing for Emotional Balance
By Beth Jacobs, Ph.D.
Experiment with the contrast of writing’s powers to let feelings out and bring feelings in. Think of the most upsetting thing that’s happened to you lately and use one page to vent. Just keep physically writing and let the feelings flow out.
On the second page, write a list of things that soothe you when you feel the overwhelming emotion you described. Include sensory experiences, people, activities, anything that can help you feel calm and comfort. Through these two pages, you’ll create a brief sample of how writing can help you find both release and structure. Infinite variations can be developed to suit your purpose or moment
Customizing Your Daily Pulse
By Ruth Folit
The Daily Pulse is a unique tool incorporated within LifeJournal that allows you to track your behavior, activities, and attitudes. With the Daily Pulse you can plot points of up to ten scales per day of your choosing. How do you choose what scales to plot? By default, LifeJournal2 has four scales–mood, health, energy, and stress. These are all subjective scales, where you rate can yourself on a scale from 1 to 10. However, you can customize these scales–both subjective or objectively–to suit your life.
First, consider what you want to track in your life. If you are curious about how you operate–how one aspect of your life affects another, the Daily Pulse is a perfect tool. For example if you want to know how working out affects your mood, you can keep track of both the amount of time that you exercise and your mood. Then display them both on the Daily Pulse Graph (click the Pulse Graph button on the application toolbar) and see if you can find correlations: When you exercise more, does you mood go up? If it goes up, you might ask how often do you need to exercise to keep your mood elevated? How many minutes do you need to exercise to see a change in your mood? And do you note that working out too much begins to negatively affect your mood?
If you are trying to encourage or discourage a particular behavior, track it. For example, if you are trying to stop smoking cigarettes: keep track of the number of cigarettes you smoke every day. As you become successful, you’ll see the trend of fewer cigarettes that you smoke, which encourages you to continue on that path. If you see that you are not sustaining the behavioral change, perhaps you can detect which life factors (stress? mood?) interfere.
Another thing you can track is whether a particular regimen–for example, medication, acupuncture, or physical therapy–is solving a problem. At first, you might think that recording this informaion isn’t necessary, that you can intuit whether a remedy is working or not, but sometimes change is subtle and you’ve forgotten how bad the problem was initially. Or, perhaps, the therapeutic remedy doesn’t take you on a short linear path to healing, but rather a circuitous up-and-down path eventually moving toward healing–but the overall trend isn’t clear. Along the way it’s encouraging to see evidence that indeed the remedy is trending toward healing, or evidence that tells you the remedy isn’t working, and it’s time to try something else.
It’s easy to customize your Daily Pulse scales:
1. Click the Daily Input button on the LifeJournal application tool bar.
2. The Daily Pulse Input dialog box opens. Click the button near the top left corner, that looks like the letter “I” with a blue circle on it.
3. The Manage Daily Pulse Scale dialog box appears. On the left side of this dialog box is a list of the Daily Pulse scales–both assigned and unassigned.
4. Click on the scale that you want to edit and then on the right side of the dialog box, make the edits that you’d like.
5. Click the Enter button to save each change, and then the OK button to save all changes.
End Quotes :
“The emotions aren’t always immediately subject to reason, but they are always immediately subject to action.”—William James
“Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.”—Brian Tracy