If you know a smart chiropractor, naturopathic doctor, fitness trainer, nutritionist, or pilates expert, if they are helping you lose weight or get healthier, they will ask you to do a food journal. Many of you may have tried this as a way to increase your awareness about what you are putting into your body. In fact, several studies have shown that people who keep a food diary are more likely to be successful in losing weight and keeping it off.
But have you ever considered using a similar method to increase your awareness about yourself in general? In other words, instead of a food journal…what about a How Are You Living Journal?
Sometimes it’s hard to observe ourselves…like fish observing water. But there are ways we can gather this information.
Play the Researcher
Researchers are trained not to judge their findings: whatever they uncover, they observe it, sit with it, document it, come to know it. When you do this for yourself, the information can help you achieve your goals.
Sometimes observation alone can produce change. Sometimes it’s the beginning of a process. Whatever the case, I have consistently witnessed that…awareness rules.
Record the Moment
In the directions below, I detail how to start, and keep, your Living Journal.
1. Program an alert into your phone so that several times a day you are reminded to ask yourself these questions.
2. Jot down small notes about what you see. It’s best to do this in a given moment, rather than noting some things at the end of your day. What we think is going on with us and what is actually going on with us can be slightly different. We all have blind spots.
3. If you’re doing this alone, remember to look it over each week – just writing it down is not enough to bring it into your awareness.
When we’re working together, I ask my clients to bring the journal to our check-in.
4. Consider these questions. There’s no need to answer them all, but let them jog your thoughts to record what you’re feeling in the moment…
What is running through your mind?
What is going on with your internal dialog?
What’s the emotional tone? Mellow? Kind? Grumpy? Silly?
How might you describe the atmosphere of your head space?
What is your body language saying in this moment?
Are you breathing deeply or shallowly?
Do you feel tired?
Are you hydrated enough?
How would you classify what you’ve eaten today? Vibrant? Fine? Call the health department?
Take a moment to notice your body. Any tension areas? How do you feel?
Are you alone or with others?
Would you say you’re present or off in the world of thoughts?
What’s happening around you? What do you notice?
Any particular behaviors you’d like to note? Going to the gym? Moving your body in some way? Are you meditating? Are you in a bar with your buddies? Anything self-care related going on?
Assess How You Are Living
All of these questions give you information about the states-of-mind you hang out in, how you may be dragging yourself down or draining yourself of energy, how you are supporting yourself, how certain foods may be affecting you. It gives a snap shot of how you are really living.
After a week, take a look at your journal and take note: Has anything surprised you? What patterns have you noticed? What do you make of it all?
If we were in session, we would go over your journal together…