140: Journaling (Sort Of)

We are talking all about journaling. Jenny joins us to help us understand the benefits of journaling. Have you always thought journaling was just like keeping a diary of how you felt each day? Well there’s so much more to journaling. Artistic expression, keeping track of events, organization, lists, bullet points, etc. Journaling doesn’t even have to be writing, it can be audio recordings. There’s no wrong way to journal. Listen in to learn about the benefits of journaling, different ways you can journal, and share with us how journaling has helped you. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com,  or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com.

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

welcome back this is recovery sort of i am jason and i journal and i’m billy i’m a person in long-term recovery i too am a long person in long-term recovery personnel

jenny this is my best intro ever so we’re talking about journaling uh we you know we’re supposed to have a professional-ish person on to teach journaling but instead we got jenny because i tried to be very professional did not show up so the idea of journaling i guess what is journaling tell us what journaling is to start right so i’m glad we’re talking about this um because i’m such a fan of journaling and um i what is journaling for for me it’s it’s like my self-care management planner it’s like my number one self-care tool it’s i think my self-care stems from here um so for me it’s putting all the swirly thoughts in my brain down on paper it’s getting them organized and you know so sometimes that’s lists sometimes it’s like a brainstorm sometimes it’s like plans or goals um so you think of a to-do list as journaling yeah some of it’s to-do list it’s all of it so my journaling is like a whole spectrum of writing like like i’ll sometimes i’ll record details about my day that i don’t want to forget but that’s like kind of like the least activity i put sometimes i set out like plans or goals like i let myself dream or brainstorm um and then you know these will turn into stories or projects um it’s kind of like a brain dump and then it helps me sort and organize like especially like you know if i have like mixed up or confused emotions about something when i start to write it out it starts to come together and i it helps me be more organized about it and that’s what journaling is to me i mean interestingly i always thought probably i think like jason because of his comment he just made it’s like you write down your feelings for the day or some sort of you know what i mean like self-reflective stuff and i was listening doing research for this another guy talk about journaling very similarly to what you just said like he has times where yes he has a to-do list or he has a new goal that he came up with and he’ll just write that out like it’s all part of journaling is like organizing thoughts and doing different organizational things and i was like well i’ve never thought of journaling in that way i think in english class in like high school they called it free writing just you know like letting your mind flow and just don’t not worrying about punctuation or grammar and i’ll do a lot of that and then things come together and either help me understand a present reality or help me figure out what i want in a situation because sometimes i don’t know what i want i just have a whole bunch of ideas so journaling helps me hone in on what it is i want or what it is that’s actually present and not to get too off i don’t know if you have more questions but so one of the things this gentleman said about journaling in this way that you’re talking about is he uses a sketchbook he doesn’t use a book with lines on the paper because it’s not always just writing you know sometimes it’s a little drawing or sometimes it’s you know some doodles or you know bullet points whatever but he doesn’t use lined paper because he said the line paper tends to limit your brain and limit your thinking whereas an open blank page gives you more creativity and more openness i thought that was pretty cool yeah i totally did that and i have drawn in my journals too in fact you guys did an episode where we had to figure out your family’s purpose do you remember that there was like maybe an exercise you recommended like you asked billy like do you have a family purpose anyway i used that as a journaling prompt and worked out my family’s purpose from my point of view and i worked out in the journal there was there was drawing involved and like sketching and like

um you know circles pointing here and drawing there i have never heard a concept that i agree more with and it also hates so much i don’t want to [ __ ] write on online paper it’s gonna be everywhere it’s not gonna be straight

straight lines and i don’t and i’m like i do i do line paper for sure but i mean but i i i’ll tuck you know sheets of paper in there well actually now i’ve moved to like electronic and i type it out so now i type it out because i um i have a lot of reasons why i type it out so i can um i type faster than i write my handwriting is [  ] my mom’s a teacher she’s so ashamed of me like my handwriting is garbage and like when i get really writing you cannot i can’t even read my own handwriting yeah i can’t spell either spelling i’m actually okay i just have terrible handwriting and um also with so with electronic format i can also like paste pictures or screenshots or quotes and um you know what else i can do too is uh search keywords so i keep it in like apple notes and if i want to look up a date or look up certain keywords i can go right to that journal entry so that’s been worked for me when have i written about when jason didn’t help me move and we looked at butterflies in the park uh so i’m not gonna do this justice at all and i wish my coworker lisa was here she could do this way better but basically handwriting has been proven to uh light up more of the brain i’m glad you brought that up so there’s more activity in a lot of different areas when you handwrite so there is a higher association with being able to remember what you write and also just the it activates the right side of the brain because to form letters is more of an art and so when you’re forming letters you’re actually pulling in your creative and feeling side of the brain not just your analytical side the left and the right which is why they think the handwriting portion of it is so key it does raise an interesting question so when you talk about lists and thoughts and ideas i do tend to write them down a lot but i do that on my phone in like a little notes kind of app but i do i don’t do like the little tappy input i do the swipe texting input and i’m like i wonder if that is almost as similar to handwriting right because you’re like sliding your thumb around the screen instead of tapping keys i don’t know i don’t know if they’ve ever done that research justification right quick with this [  ] let’s throw this one in too so um my friend larissa who wrote into the show she does journaling with audio clips so she does whatever in her phone saves audio clips and um that works for her it’s and i i can i totally get this so when she’s walking or driving she can talk into her phone and then um go ahead is she doing talk to text or is she recording audio clips audio clips and i’ll do speech to text in my cause i’ll journal when i walk sometimes i take an evening meditation kind of walk and i’ll i’ll audio or voice the text into my journal on the walks but she’s actually saving audio clips and when and that totally works for her because she’s that’s just how she processes better and she said uh at times when she reviews it she likes the fact that she can hear the tone of voice and um like the inflection helps her understand the situation with a thought to be honest though i would not say that as journaling i mean because i would almost say that happens in recovery meetings like that’s what people do and maybe that’s why there’s some benefit to that i don’t know i mean some people just get in there and ramble but some people you know like that’s i can easily see someone using that space in a recovery meeting as sorting through some thoughts and ideas and expressing them out loud for sort of you know review hmm i don’t i don’t know if it’s journaling or not but i feel like yes that’s a great thing to do yeah that’s like what we do in therapy it’s like that’s what i mean with the audio clips or the voice to text like that’s where i’m like how so the part we have always said about the steps that helps is that putting it on paper lets us see it from a third person view kind of like this idea that you know if somebody came up to you and was having relationship problems the answer or solution for them is evident to you but you can’t figure out your own problems because there’s feelings involved and in the way of seeing the situation clearly or through a different lens so you put it on paper and you get a different view of it just like if your friend was coming to you i feel like that’s kind of what happens in a therapeutic environment also what kind of happens when you say things out loud in a recovery environment like you’re if you’re saying it and you’re listening and you’re open to other people’s input about it like there’s that same kind of idea you’re getting a new lens for it and i guess if she’s going back and listening to it she’s hearing it at a different time in her life which makes it a different lens i guess my view of journaling had always been pretty narrow i mean even until we did research into this i would have never thought like to me it was always this you’re almost like a reflection of your day like a diary where you just reflect on your day or what happened that day that was stepped up journaling like yeah that’s more or less yeah and i never really thought of it much more than that i was over here debating i’m like well when you do voice to text you’re trying to speak very clearly and enunciate so that it gets all the right words in the text but when you just record your voice you’re using a more artistic flow and that’s going to be more useful than just i don’t know i agree i mean i think it’s i think because we all have different learning styles so it makes sense to me that we would have different journaling styles like what’s gonna what’s gonna benefit us the best so in this case larissa is a good audio person for me i’ve always liked words like even when i was a little kid i used to make lists like that’s just my thing i’m a word person um so it makes sense from for me to be on paper but so i still think audio journaling is a thing i mean captain picard audio journal right captain’s logs yeah 4.268.99 the future

so i i guess what i would say the first thing i’m learning right here right now with the idea that we can make lists and we can audio journal is the same thing i had to learn about meditation there was no wrong way to meditate and there’s probably no wrong way to journal like the practice of doing it is makes it right yeah actually journaling i think journaling and meditation for me are are very similar practice like i i kind of put them in the same same classification yeah what what works for you what what helps what benefits you the most how you know how what style benefits you the most if it’s just recording details about your day helps you manage your life better great like for me it’s definitely that free writing to figure things out that’s like the number one quality for journaling sure i have other things in there that i jot down and list but using my journal as a tool to figure things out is a lot like meditation to me using as a tool to figure out what’s real and what’s best for me and

so the way i tried to pick up journaling this year and i’ve had some medium success with that it’s on and off it’s been hard to implement i so let’s say this my judgment of its success is judged based on how often i would like to do it i would like to do it more regularly i think it is a good practice it’s something i want to pick up i feel like i’m in that beginning stages of trying to pick up meditation where you know i can’t get the regular practice like i get it i get it i write this week i write next week and then it drops off for a couple weeks and then i pick it back up and i’m like [  ] i haven’t done this for a month but i haven’t really gone into it with like topics or or some people love topics like do i have a couple of people i see that are always like oh give me a journal topic for this week and i’m like [  ] i gotta think of something real quick and sound profound um

but like i just kind of go into it with like maybe i have a feeling about something that day and i find it’s easier the days that i am having a specific like situation in my life i’m like oh i want to write about this just to put it on paper but there’s other days where i’m like i’m just going to journal just because i said i was you know commitment right and then i’m like what the [  ] am i even writing i’m just kind of that sounds like a chore that’s definitely yeah i i find journaling works best for me when i have kind of like a soft mind like when i’m relaxed like making it a chore like don’t forget to write i’m not gonna get it’s a task it’s like laundry like i’m not gonna get anywhere if my mind’s like it’s so journaling for me like in the morning when the house is quiet i’ll write down a few thoughts or like um in the afternoon before i have to do like the whole dinner routine it’s kind of like chill like the kids are playing video games after school and it’s like my moment to like sit down and figure stuff out or in the evening so yeah like when it when it’s like a to-do list item you know like gotta change the oil like force it’s it just doesn’t work for me i never want to write but does it do i have to go through that space to get to the space you’re talking about so like with meditation meditation was not something i really i wanted to be a guy who meditated and got the benefits of it sounds cool right i did not want to actually sit on any given day like the reminder would come with my phone i’m like [  ] man i gotta do this again but overdoing it and i’m you know well over a year of daily meditation practice like there are many days six out of seven probably every week where i’m like i can’t [  ] wait to that time when i get like that space where i know it’s in my day and i’m like oh yeah that’s gonna be great so i wonder if i have to go through this like forceful period of it right to get to the place where i start to experience the benefits because i will say so far i have not really felt any specific benefits that i can associate with having done it and i’ve said my experience has been similar i’ve done it a few times and probably never lasted more than like a week and i’m like oh this feels like torture i wonder if audio journaling might be better for you maybe maybe the speech detects or maybe the audio clips because you hate writing like if my husband walks in and out he sees me like clacking out on the i don’t even know ipad he’s like having fun with that term paper there you know like and uh because that is not his style at all like he thinks journaling is like torture and so but i bet you know if he thought journaling would benefit him audio journaling would be easier for him and he’s a star trek fan so i could just make that picard right just like that here’s here’s what i think i’m running into most in my resistance to journaling is that i’m going to have to take something else out like when you just sat here like i was thinking like through my day i’m like oh i have time between clients sometimes we make a journal then but i’m always like i just kind of want to space out for a minute on my phone i want to read news whatever answer a text but when you were talking about like being soft in the morning like i have this kind of i don’t want to say it’s rigid but this routine i do every morning i get up i have my coffee i do a little candy crush i do some words with friends i do my wordle right like i read the news uh i would i would have to give those up to take up that morning practice of like setting with my coffee and journaling that you know what i mean like and that’s really i’m committed to them yeah yeah and it’s not good it’s not good that i’m committed to them because there’s probably more benefit to just being with myself in reflecting and journaling but so maybe your journaling time is better you know uh the afternoon or evening i’m still giving up something right right you do have a very full life i’m always giving up so i don’t want to give up but that’s the idea of everything that’s good for us right we had to give up on these things that maybe aren’t so healthy even if we enjoy them obviously i’ve prioritized journaling in my life because [  ] you jenny it makes it it makes my life easier to have meditating and journaling how much better can you be than us i also don’t eat meat all right saint jenny the meat thing you can have that i’m not there um

can you specifically point out for you like in your body can you tell this is how i feel being the person who journals regularly versus the pre-journaling jenny like was there a time when did you feel different then can you specifically be like oh my god ever since i started journaling there’s like with meditation i’m like yeah man when i meditate regularly billy and i have talked about this on meditation episodes like there’s a huge [  ] difference you at least see it when you stop meditating right nothing else yeah you feel it so i think it was about three years ago that i’ve been really committed to journaling i think journaling’s been part of my life on and off but then having formal i used to do paper you know journals like cute little like decorative cover style with lines um and i did those i did those for a while until it was like a habit so i guess i so i started meditating regularly about four or five years ago so then journaling probably started three or four years ago and i have been committed so i have a ton of those paper uh journals on my shelf from seasons past and then i moved to the iphone ipad you don’t burn them no no the one thing i read the guy keeps each year gets its own book and you keep them all you go back and look that’s what i was going to recommend actually is to break it up by season so these these books like there’s no rhyme or reason to them like you know there’s no color coding you have to open them and see what dates they are but it would be easier if i was like this is my 2019 you know whatever and now when i journal in my ipad um i do break it up by season and you like because otherwise you have like a a note that’s like miles long so like i i would say i recommend to people break up your paper journals audio files or you know notes into like seasons so you don’t have a huge file it’s just easier i would recommend trusting the universe like buy a book and when that book gets filled up maybe that like your life doesn’t change because the year flipped over it goes through changes whenever it changes so just trust the universe has that that’s what i did like i would fill up a book but it would just kind of end on an odd date and you’d have to start like october 15th you know like a new one like i wish i was a new season maybe maybe that’s just my organized mind and maybe that’s why journaling does work so well for me it’s because i like being i’m always picturing that as a great time like if you’ve been journaling about a certain thing throughout the length of this book like a change you want to make in your life and now you’re getting your new journal book it’s like i think now’s the time to make that change and so okay don’t follow the universe that way yeah yes i don’t know um so i i had a i saw a person at one point that it wasn’t their journal was not more of a typical what we would think of journal it was more just kind of like thoughts and doodles and stuff like that and some of them maybe they weren’t real thrilled about the way they felt like it kind of like that resistance to looking at the dark side like we talked about with dave but they would totally burn them after they were done they didn’t ever want to be unfound or anything that’s funny when i did step four and five with a a sponsor we burned it and i was like i wish i had that stuff back you know like that was part of her ritual and i was like that’s cool we’ll do it and then i wished it was back so i i had this thing and this is coming up for me you talk about looking back at them like for me i want the benefit of journaling to be in the writing of it because i don’t ever plan on reading this [  ] again like that sounds like work for sure i’m like i’m not going back and reading i there probably 75 of it i don’t look back on because it’s more like a tool in that i’m getting the words out and then i’ll make maybe at the end of a season or cycle i’ll put like a summary you know but most of it i don’t look back on and then the summary’s there if i need it so when did you go from paper journaling to the tablet why probably about a year ago and it’s because i wanted to be more organized and it’s i wanted to um put screenshots and pictures in there and it’s easier to do that than printing it out and pasting it in a book and the iphone’s always with me so when i’m driving if i have a thought i can shout it into the phone yeah and that works better for you you haven’t noticed any like you don’t feel like you’re missing something or you don’t feel like you’ve lost anything from the benefits no i don’t i do like jason brought up about like activating the right brain and i’m really i’m curious about that i do kind of side projects like i’ll journal about something which will spawn maybe like a creative project on the side which will require me to like draw and um i’ll do that outside of the ipad and just kind of keep that on my bookshelf you know oh you know what i’ll end up doing is taking a picture of it and putting it into the electronic file does your journaling ever involve vision boards yeah like vision boards or so yes you’re you’re smirking i i’m like this is gonna sound critical of myself but it’s not meant to be okay i’m not artistic in the way we think of art like i i don’t draw particularly well i can’t get the picture that’s in my head onto the paper in front of me in any fashion that looks anything like what the [  ] i’m looking for um so i’m just that’s not like me and so i feel like vision boards are constantly a thing we do at therapy trainings and stuff like that and mine and i don’t care like i don’t give a [  ] but they look so terrible can you do digital vision boards that’s what’s gonna show you i mean i can’t slap some [  ] on the paper this is my vision board it’s the background of my phone so i made a vision board like you know i did the brainstorm in the journaling and then i made my 2022 vision board and i made a collage on the background of my phone so that’s always right there i’m sitting there with my co-workers we’re cutting out magazine stuff and like this one lady who has magazines this lady has like 30 000 stickers she’s like professional vision board maker and i’m sitting next to her and i’m like glue sticks slapping some [  ] on i’m like oh come on get in touch with your inner five-year-old my creative artistic side of somewhere else it’s in like talking and you know verbal ways and writing like i can creatively write or or putting this podcast together like the editing and stuff behind that like that’s where my artistic side is and i’m fine with that i don’t judge me for not being like a drawer or whatever how do y’all say that i think that’s correct

i think this podcast is a sort of journal because we are all exploring these topics you know sometimes like in real time we’re like discovering stuff you know yeah yeah i guess benefit out of just talking through some of these ideas and hearing different perspectives and it helps me sort out some of my ideas oh this is our group journal this is the year 2022 journal for us um it is yeah so i don’t know i was just curious about the vision board thing but yeah i don’t particularly that i’ve been better with allowing myself to be creative and not comparing like i don’t give a [  ] about how it looks but yeah i don’t every time somebody’s like we’re gonna do a vision board i’m like yeah my funny story about this vision board is uh it includes a picture of me right because it that represents some healthy self-worth so my phone had to go to the rip uh i had to take it in to get it like uh worked on and the dude the clerk the technician like saw my vision boys like why the hell does this girl have a picture of herself as the background you think that’s what he thought maybe he thought man i wish i had healthy self-confidence and i had made a picture of the back of my phone myself is on my background it’s me and my wife oh yeah i this no i don’t know what he thought but podcast is not ready for what my background is currently honestly um tell us about journaling so we can move away from that um so my journal is private nobody else sees it like i don’t share that with anything it’s not like this podcast where the whole world can listen to our public journal but keep your dark side i do it just like knowing it’s always private and hidden i can i feel safer there i can say anything and i know i’m not going to be exposed like i don’t you know you know those little diaries when you were kids that had like the little tiny key yeah this one’s serious yeah this one needs a password yeah my kids had a voice activated one one time it’s like a voice activated lock for their and then they kept getting locked out of it because they were a little and stupid and forgot the word and their voices changed and then they couldn’t open it anymore you know i i so i don’t want this to feel critical of you because it’s do my best go ahead um but it was interesting to hear you say that and i do the same thing so this is not a judgment of jenny it’s an exploration of us right but like you kept your recovery status quiet for a long time and it’s been through working with us on this show that that has changed a little bit and you’re like out and free and you’re not living in the illusion anymore and i’m like but there’s part of you you want to keep hidden still and not be out and free and not living in the illusion anymore and don’t get me wrong me too right like i i got my [  ] that i don’t run around shouting from the rooftops there’s no doubt about that but i’m like man why do we rob ourselves when we’ve only experienced the positives of even though there’s always a backlash to some extent but like it’s still freeing for us who gives a [  ] yeah well and it’s so it’s the journal allows me to at least show to my laptop my ipad rather you know like so it does feel you know tim cook’s reading that [  ] he’s like jenny what was you thinking girl

but i guess yet journaling in in the process of journaling it is like you know maybe i’m getting there maybe by practicing telling my journal that nobody reads i’ll be able to tell other human beings and live for free how do you know your husband ain’t gonna read that one day i don’t know but he’s really i don’t think he wants to know to be honest i don’t i think i don’t think he wants to know oh i’m not going to lie right and i i’m not trying to cause marital issues but that didn’t sound like i trust him enough that he respects my life and privacy that sounded like he doesn’t really give a [ __ ] about me or what i’m thinking i was like damn you need to journal about that that was rough i might journal about hearing that i don’t know what to say that but i think he doesn’t like if i leave my phone out he doesn’t pick it up and look at it like he just doesn’t doesn’t care to know he’s got his own issues i guess i don’t know what else about journaling what else about journaling um in the recovery community that i you know got clean or abstinent or found recovery in the 12-step world there’s a lot of people well at least there’s some people who do talk about the idea of journaling but even for a more universal aspect of it i mean we write down a lot of our steps in narcotics anonymous and a a there’s a couple of them that they write on right so there’s this form of journaling built into the steps to some extent you know especially you think about four and six and looking at yourself eight writing down these harms you’ve caused ten the idea of like this inventory on a a daily basis which it says doesn’t have to be formally written but you know we we do say that you don’t really get a clear picture of yourself unless you’re formally writing so i don’t know i guess recovery does sort of guide people towards this idea of journaling but i do feel like it’s very step dependent and it’s not considered like something you should do all the time just like when you’re there oh yeah you should well not i mean i don’t how much of that is more of just the current practice of that because i think in other fellowships they don’t write the way that we do at least not in this area and i’m sure different areas do it differently so being a part of some so i’m not super familiar with the the aaa practice exactly how it goes down i do believe they write on a couple of steps four eight yeah but just knowing like going to some other fellowships um for different things and they they follow more of the aaa model i guess i don’t know if it’s exact to the aaa model but like the one fellowship i was in their first step is more like what we consider a fourth step like you generally just write down your life history from birth to present like everything just write your life story and then therefore looked more like this chart of like what did you do who was harmed by it uh there’s another column i can’t think of and then it was like what was at the core of that harm was it selfishness was it greed like what was behind that so there four was kind of like four and five and a chart version almost like getting to the core nature of what was going on uh and i think they wrote on eight as well but yeah so i i i guess that’s more a-a-ish i can back you up that was my experience i didn’t do i didn’t do much writing on eight maybe some loose journaling but i was in outpatient rehab for and we i had these little workbooks for one through three and it was super helpful for me because again i’m a word writing person i did one through three when i finally got a sponsor too the n a program they write all kinds of yeah that’s what it is well it’s funny because my my brother did n a my brother’s also in recovery and um he did n a couple years before me and when i found out about the n a workbooks because he was he kind of had the same stance as you guys like oh you don’t really do work this is this is how you get sober and um he showed me his na workbooks i’m like i would love to do that because um the little workbooks i did in rehab were really helpful and cool and i loved the prompts and you know and then um of course i did one through three again with a sponsor and then four i used like a spiral bound notebook the charts that you described um and that was super helpful for me but then by eight we didn’t i didn’t have many more writing projects unless they were self-imposed this episode has been brought to you in part by voices of hope inc a non-profit recovery organization made up of people in recovery family members and allies together members strive to protect the dignity of those that use drugs and those in recovery by advocating for treatment harm reduction and support resources and mentoring please visit us at www.voicesofhopemaryland.org

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so if you’re in any form of recovery and interested in answering step type questions but maybe the step working guide and narcotics anonymous is does not feel specific for addiction well it’s really specific and i feel like i don’t want to say it’s surfacy but a lot of the questions are like very specifically um but there’s a 12-step book out there that’s more open and more kind of therapy feelings-ish background-y uh it’s called a gentle path a gentle path through the 12 steps or a general guide to the 12 steps is by patrick karns really interesting i worked through it i loved it i just felt like it was really open and explorative and you know involved a lot of stuff that maybe a specific to a fellowship book wouldn’t that’s cool it’s like recovery light no no no it felt like the opposite oh it felt like recovery deep recovery heavy not like okay it was like it was very explored it was more like therapy kind of recovery instead of just like you know suck it up and stop using drugs it was like where in your family history what kind of feelings did this evoke in you when you dealt with your caregiver like that kind of stuff okay that makes sense i mean i would i would encourage anybody in recovery in any program to have some kind of journaling it’s i just feel like it’s like a great tool to get to know you i don’t i don’t know who it wouldn’t work for whether you are a writer or an audio person or pictures you know whatever style of learning you do best find a way to use that to like have a conversation with your brain is tick tock a video journal yeah for some people i’m sure it is is social media a form of journal and that’s an interesting like you can look back here’s your memory from 10 years ago what you were thinking like yes and i’ve used social media as a tool to see where my headspace was at in the past instagram not facebook it’s easier to look up instagram pictures it doesn’t help if i don’t ever post anything on facebook yeah i don’t either i could tag you guys in some random memories just to [  ] with you yeah that was back before i knew jenny i used to post and now i don’t even want to ever see what i post oh yeah i’m doing that now too so as i’m going through like facebook will be like memories from whatever i’m like deleting stuff like i’ve long since deleted like drunk jenny days but then there’s other stuff like that was not funny you deleted that oh yeah i do not want memories coming up of me like all huh wow tired-eyed and slurry-looking facebook wasn’t around so i don’t know how unattractive it would have been and and i could see the draw to want to remove that and especially in early recovery when i had nothing else to do anyway spending hours deleting all that [  ] would have probably worked but i i mean i feel like just thinking about it right now it’s probably no different like my posts from 2007 are probably hard to know who i am right what’s the difference do i need to delete that or do i need to not so much be reminded of it but know that yeah that’s awesome it’s beautiful that change happens through a lifetime yeah i mean i can go through and see the picture and be like oh great i’ve changed delete thanks okay we’ll see i’m the other way like i wish there was more pictures and stuff of me using like i don’t have almost any because i didn’t like myself i didn’t like people taking pictures of me obviously phone cameras weren’t around all the time so it wasn’t as many pictures but if people were like pulling out cameras i’m like don’t take pictures of me you know like my family i’m not in very many family pictures at all you know like there’s just not a lot of pictures of me when i was using i want pictures from when i was using because i don’t have many either but i want some at like the lowest points because like what the [  ] that is such a testament to the transformation that can happen in life i’ve almost thought about trying to get my mug shot pictures because i don’t know how you get them dude i look like a [  ] skeleton i mean my cheeks were sunk in i was gray it was hard and i’m like yeah that would be oh my gosh we have homework now everybody get a picture of what you look like i don’t have anything i’m always jealous when the people put their like before and after recovery pictures i’m like i can’t do one of them like i don’t have any pictures of me and the couple i have them like they’re not bad enough i know it was worse than that they were at decent points if people were still taking pictures i can’t believe there’s no pictures of me like drinking and driving and puking out the window right no pictures of that anyway back to journalists

i guess one of the other uh it’s it’s helpful i don’t review too much but by writing it down i can see patterns of behavior and that that’s really helpful too like um and it’s like this isn’t really my story but i know some people get like seasonal affective disorder i mean there’s other patterns that if you you know like if if you write it down it kind of commits it to memory i think you mentioned that in the actual writing process you commit to your brain more even in the electronic audio by just acknowledging it just makes you pay attention it’s more mindful i guess you know like and you can see more patterns and that’s why i think it’s super helpful for people in recovery i mean and mental health in general but you you want to see like what are your tendencies like oh my gosh i just i was writing about that last month what’s going on you know yeah and one of the benefits you know i was looking at benefits of journaling and one of them was keeps memory sharp journaling helps keep your brain and tip top sheet not only does it boost memory and comprehension it also increases working memory capacity so you know obviously you probably know our like our memories are for [  ] on their own and you can have an incident happen in front of three people and ask them two days later and they’ll give you three different stories of what color the hat was what color jacket the person was for you know and i guess journaling is a way to help improve that well and we tend to think that when we remember something repeatedly we’re remembering it but every time you remember something you’re remembering the last time you remembered it which changes it even further it’s like the telephone game right whisper you’re remembering a story right not even remembering remembering a memory right when i used to work i knew this woman in hr and she she had a journal like a spiral bound journal on her desk and she just wrote down basic facts of who saw her what day and maybe like a general idea of why and it was a super useful tool because i guess hr office is pretty busy but if she had that very basic facts it just helped to remember the facts and then i guess the other colorful parts she had other places to remember that or whatever but um just that kind of bare bones journal was a really essential tool for her work just time date person why well it’s interesting what i’ll call the side benefits of journaling because i found quite a few too which i i hope to bring up as we continue this episode but like if you just asked me what was the importance of journaling or what’s the benefit of it before any of this like my original thought is probably like self-exploration like self-reflection the space to just kind of look at myself from a different place so instead of that place where i always am that judgment that you know critical eye like it just lets me put it on paper and kind of think of it differently i would never think of like memory or some of the other things that i found that it does for you i’m like huh i guess it does do all that organization like i would never think of organization as what i would journal for that’s interesting to me it’s also a joy to see memories too it’s not all like painful stuff like sometimes it’s fun to go back and be like oh yeah that’s when my daughter’s play was you know like so it does have you know like i’ll put pictures of like favorite memories in there so it’s not all like painful stuff and that’s the benefit of the digital version is that you can put these pictures or these cap you know yeah photos or whatever in there you could draw a picture of your daughter’s dance recital you could draw a picture mine would be like a couple stick figures yeah uh but like with all things it just gets better with practice and it’s super personal like how you do it is you know like it has what works for you super personal so i’m interesting another benefit that i read and i don’t know if for me it’s a big deal because i am i struggle with anxiety was it says it reduces stress um have you noticed any benefit of that for you yes because knowing where i’m at reduces stress when i’m like floundering or confused if i’m in a situation that i don’t quite understand and the writing about it helps me sort things out naturally i’m going to be less anxious about it this is all i could think of when you were talking about pictures of dancing this dance logo design fail this is probably what i would end up drawing as a dancer it took me a minute i had to squint yeah but because it’s you i knew where it was going right right that’s a old jazz dance logo i look at too much internet obviously you do so uh i saw that journaling can reduce anxiety they did a study where people with various medical conditions and anxiety wrote online for 15 minutes three days a week over a 12-week period and they had increased feelings of well-being and fewer depressive symptoms and it continued to improve during the 12 weeks that they journaled why i they don’t know but just writing things down lowers your anxiety there you go billy yeah i imagine it gives you a more realistic perspective i mean in my head things seem so important or that you know the the level of importance i’ll place on different ideas or concepts is very different than what it looks like in real life you know what i mean and so writing it down probably helps just make it more real but then also help you see like a path forward or a path and if you yeah if you think about it uh you know if you’re holding something in that makes you feel bad about yourself and never like it’s kind of like that idea that i felt before i even use drugs like i can’t show myself to these people around me or they’ll hate me the way i do but if i can go to billy or jenny and say man i’ve been having this really like what i feel is a shitty thought about something i want to do in my life and they’re like no i totally get it like that situation you’re in like if they normalize it i now have to carry less of that burden right um a lot of what happens in a therapy session even though we like to think it’s all this fancy [  ] it’s just the fact that people have a space to vent right and journaling can provide that like you can vent in a place where you’re not gonna get judged yeah and i felt that about meeting same way like i think a lot of times when i go in and share about difficult stuff in a meeting i’m not necessarily looking for the people and there’s solutions to my problem you know what i mean like the goal of me getting it out isn’t to fix it for for anybody there to fix it but i’m usually by the time i share it out loud some sort of answers or solutions or what i need is already coming back to me right just releasing it well and that’s i i think um you know you talk about going into a meeting and doing that that was one of the most critical things for me early on like i couldn’t go into the doctor’s office or the the church brunch uh you know the pancake social and talk about how you know i i punched that old lady in the face for a hit a crack right for her purse like but in a meeting people be like yeah yeah

what street was she on she’s still there every day i might need some money later he got me thinking though because about how we share in meetings um and maybe my journaling really uh took off as out of necessity because it was right before covid that i started journaling more seriously and then it became like really dependent on it because we were all home so much so i kind of became my own meeting at a necessity you know sharing stuff maybe i don’t have to think more about that but and i i want to ask you this because i don’t know i have never been to a no it’s not true i’ve been to one meeting you’re at but you didn’t say anything um uh in in the 12-step world um there’s a tendency for people who get some amount of time or recovery or respect where they feel like they can’t talk about the tough things in their life anymore almost and i i don’t know this but i’ve always got the feeling i wonder if you go into the the dharma meetings that you go to and don’t necessarily share about any of the gritty stuff it’s more like oh this is what i’m trying to practice this is the positive parts of jenny like i think you’re definitely right and i’ve been thinking about that lately how like i because i i lead most of the meetings um because nobody else wants to um but they say i do a really good job um but yeah i end up being like the smiley positive leader up front and i don’t share the yucky stuff um and i know that’s becoming an issue i’m trying to find other ways for that but journaling helps you become aware of this yes as a matter of fact it has uh but i do like i’ll share the tougher aspects or the challenges in the journal and then i do come to dharma you know with you know i guess you know smile on my face we got a lot we get a lot of new people too and i don’t want them to walk in the door be like you ready for this [  ] you know like so i do i do tend to do that and that’s the other reason like i mentioned i was like should i go try 12 steps for a little bit again just to shake things up but yeah limited on time well and the reason i asked is because one of the other benefits i read about was strengthened emotional function which you know by writing about things and bringing them out we’re like oh yeah i do see this almost like you talked about earlier like this pattern or i see myself thinking this certain way and i can sort of begin to do something with that yeah and i mean and you know what i know this is an issue with me i have trouble getting criticism but if i tell my journal i don’t get criticized you know like sometimes i don’t want people’s advice some people i don’t you know there’s people in meetings who like i respect the recovery but i do not want your advice i don’t want you commenting on my [  ] you know like i just want to get it out so but i i gotta i don’t know i need there’s some there’s some toughening up emotionally i need somehow some solution huh yeah i get that like that’s one of the things i don’t really want to share a lot in a meeting about something i’m actually going through because generally those aren’t the people i necessarily really want their suggestions like i go straight to the people whose information i want i don’t need to put it out in an open format like that like the people who i’ve really i’m like oh man i really wonder what they think about this and how they would handle it so i can get some more information i just go straight to those people like i don’t really need and i don’t even know how often i really all the time need that like i don’t know if it’s journal or self-reflection or a higher universal power but like i mean i feel like generally after a while we kind of know where we stand on morals and values and what priorities matter to us and like you know you can kind of sit back and just think about it a little bit and step back from it and it’s like that’s kind of evident that i need to do yeah i mean i i do shared meetings but i don’t i like i get a little bit perturbed when people try to start giving me answers but i know that’s going to happen and i just most of it doesn’t matter patience and tolerance yeah you just whatever i try not to do that because i want to do the same thing to other people when they share about where they’re at what they’re going through oh well let me tell you how to fix that right now i got all the information you need you know i want to do the same [  ] thing so i recognize it it says journaling helps with brooding so if you write about an emotional event you can break away from non-stop cycle of obsessively thinking and brooding over what happens but apparently the timing matters because writing about a traumatic event immediately after it can make you feel worse yeah so it’s more about the brooding not the actual event that reminds me of writing a letter and not sending it have you guys ever been prescribed that like write the email but don’t send it tell people that all the time okay i don’t think i’ve ever done that no no it’s about you know i guess it’s about well you’re the doctor but it’s about getting it out and then you don’t have to follow through it just helps cool you off well generally from my perspective we just start with just write the letter that you would never send right make it icky make it nasty make it dirty say all the [  ] you really need to say and then after you do that then we’ll talk about if you actually want to send a letter and how we can navigate writing the letter that you could send but like first let’s just get that [ __ ] out be ugly yeah i’ve also heard um write the letter to your future self you know like of what you are proud of accomplishing i guess this goes on along with goal setting but you know uh i guess have your future self write you letter now like

i can tell how you feel about that well no the one way you talked about it like that write a letter to yourself in five years about where you’re at and being thankful for the things you’ve accomplished in those five years and this that and the other like this idea of like it’s almost like visualizing yeah a future outcome and i’m like i mean it’s not terrible but i don’t use it much so with your goals do you just is there like a random time they come up in your journaling or do you do them at the beginning of the year or oh um yeah i guess i’ll i’ll do it with like the seasons you know like you know new year’s seems like a good time to set like goals for the year you know well the guy that recommended the uh book the sketchbook also like he was saying what he does is in the beginning of the book he writes goals i think one of the interesting things he did and i thought this was fascinating is he has the number of days until he turns 90 and that is till and it counts down you know each year do i have to be alive when i turn 90. because yeah infinite numbers how many days you have left in your life until you know you’re going to be dead i mean so making the most of each day and then he has that in there contemplation of death the countdown and then hit his goals and stuff and i thought wow that’s interesting that might [ __ ] me up said you would have to yeah i think i might do it though that sounds really if i remember tomorrow is there an app for like that for that 90-day countdown there’s probably a countdown there’s countdown apps i’m sure oh yeah can you imagine that popping up as a notification every morning right 28 000 more days till you’re dead

yeah so i mean for him that was beneficial but and then there was some other stuff but he did all those things like on the cover of the book so when you first opened it that was like the first thing and then journal through the rest so i thought that was interesting yeah i like that that’s cool i might journal about my death anyway uh it creates awareness so writing down your feelings about a difficult situation can help you understand it better the act of putting an experience into words and structure allows you to form new perceptions about events so i think this goes back to the idea of vending it in a place where it’s not going to be criticized right when we have to actually it’s one thing to walk around with this vague feeling of not liking ourselves for punching the old lady but it’s a whole nother thing to write it on paper well what actually happened what did it go why did i do this what was i feeling as it went on right did she stab my kid well maybe i was supposed to put like you know what i mean there’s a whole lot of other aspects to it and you can step back from it again i think it’s really that stepping back that really helps a lot that’s a lot of the therapy process just different perspective and step away from the body get away from your brain for a little bit yeah yeah well that’s probably why meditation goes so well with journaling i would imagine because you know meditation for me is similar it’s like i’m sitting back and watching all this [ __ ] swirling around in there yeah how much of this is nonsense like how much of this is completely useless wasted energy oh my god therapists are like brain police step away from the thoughts ma’am gonna need you to step back i don’t like that

what are you gonna say oh i just like really it’s in like meditation um because meditation strengthens you know focus and concentration and applying that to your journaling and then i think they go hand in hand and then when you have a stronger focus you know what’s going on in your mind you’re writing it down you can bring that back to meditation and it just i think they help each other they work together like peanut butter and jelly i like peanut butter and jelly do you journal or do you yeah do you journal when the mood strikes you or do you have a time for it and if you do is it like i journal that meditate or i meditate then journal yes all of that so sometimes yeah so sometimes when um uh if the moment strikes me that’s what’s so convenient about recording it on my phone because it’s usually always with me i can jot down what’s come to mind but then there’s other times when i’m like i’ll tell my family like i’m gonna go journal for a bit you know like and i’ll set aside time and um and then there’s other times where i go i want to get deep and i’ll you know set the mood you know like meditate a little bit maybe light a candle you know have a little cup of tea because i want to get comfortable you know if i have incense i usually don’t but you know i want to get comfortable because i want my mind to relax and get into something you know a topic that i’ve picked up from conversation something that’s been on my mind something like you know an instagram therapist brought to mind and i’m like oh i want to explore that you know so highly disappointed in your lack of incense use i’ll guess i don’t yeah if i have some i’ll burn it but i don’t know i need a big buddha picture nonsense and then maybe i’ll start journaling i think

well that’s true but i still have to go find it uh it regulates emotions so they did brain scans of people who wrote about their feelings and it showed that they were better able to control those emotions better than those who wrote about a neutral experience i’d also found that writing about feelings in an abstract way was more calming than writing vividly

it encourages opening up so writing privately about a stressful event could encourage some to reach out for social support continuing what you said earlier you’re practicing for when you’re ready to be more open about this figured it out all by myself so here’s one you don’t not know i didn’t it can speed up physical healing so they did a study on 49 adults in new zealand and found that those who wrote for 20 minutes about their feelings on upsetting events healed faster after a biopsy than those who just wrote about daily activities do they write about the biopsy uh feelings on upsetting events so probably i mean if the perhaps you have interesting experiment but isn’t that crazy that just speeds up your physical healing uh they also did one where college students wrote about stressful events were less likely to get sick compared to those who wrote about neutral topics like their room oh man that’s cool so it increases your well-being physically as well physical immunity so how to start how to start i i think i mean do you have a recommendation i’m open to yours because i don’t necessarily believe these they’re just written on this okay so i would say how to start would be just start you know with a paper journal or the electronic one like we talked about or audio and just start recording events in your day just like real simple no judgment just be like today you could be like recorded podcast with the guys had an omelette for lunch you know and just start somewhere do not judge what you’re writing and i didn’t try any of them or check them out but they’re journaling apps too that will give you prompts yeah topics and things to start on and i think you will become naturally curious about your mind i think as you start writing about your day you’ll start clicking like together some things or be like you know i saw this really interesting documentary and that makes me wonder about this and i think just recording bare facts don’t judge yourself it doesn’t be perfect or beautiful or even interesting your curiosity will naturally lead you to delve more into your own mind that’s what i believe i already like that more than anything that’s written on this page and i am actually going to try that because i the part of my problem is i’m like well i got 10 minutes for my next person do i really have time to sit down and get into one of these page long journal entries and maybe i’ll just pull the [  ] book out and write a sentence all right a couple i’m going to try that thank you you’re welcome so this says try it on paper first it says writing with pen and paper helps you process feelings better it’s also easier to add drawings but go with whatever you’re more comfortable with and is more convenient for you it says make it a habit by picking a time a day whether it’s the first thing you do when you wake up or the last thing before you go to bed commitment doesn’t exist don’t even bother with that suggestion uh keep it simple when you’re first starting out keep it simple journal only for a few minutes and set a timer i like jenny’s idea better so [  ] this website do what feels right there’s no hard and fast rule on what you should write it’s your space to create whatever you want to express your feelings don’t worry about spelling or sentence structure or what other people might think some people may prefer to write only if something is bothering them but you should do what feels right for you write on anything while a beautiful notebook might inspire some it can intimidate others you’re free to use [  ] lineless paper if you’re a goddamn psychopath but it could be specific scraps of paper your phone uh if you don’t like writing you could even try a voice memo imagine that larissa is onto something uh get creative you may not be sure where to start with journaling or you might be reluctant if you’re not fond of writing billy but journaling doesn’t have to be just about writing sentences try different formats write lists make poetry compose a song write a letter draw some art or try bullet journaling you can also find journaling prompts online such as billy said or on apps that might inspire you try expressive writing writing about an event that was stressful or emotional for you may be more beneficial for your mental health than just diet rewriting is that different than diary writing i don’t know start a gratitude journal giving thanks is good for your mental health start off by listing three things that you’re grateful for these can be small things like a walk in the park delicious cup of coffee or good weather it can be a list full sentences doesn’t matter do your thing and don’t set your expectations too high journal isn’t going to solve all your problems it isn’t a therapist or counselor but it can help you learn more about yourself it is my therapist maybe you learn that you need a therapist i don’t know yeah um but yeah a lot of great stuff in there about what it can do for you and i think it the way they laid it out i was a little skeptical about their suggestions for getting started i liked it it sounded like really open and just do what feels right and don’t be pressured so i i’m taking jenny’s suggestion i’m going with it i’m going to just try to write a sentence here and there about something that goes on and see where that goes i like that idea yeah i think that’s really useful too i had a pretty narrow view of what i thought journaling was until we looked into i looked into this a little bit and listened to you and you know it’s always one of those things i’ve heard is super beneficial and i’ve always been like yeah that’s for somebody else i felt that way about meditation for years too so any final thoughts no but thanks for letting me share about my journaling oh man thanks for bringing it to us so go out there and journal if you need a prompt for your first journal you can write about how commitment is [  ] and doesn’t exist just like we talked about last episode see you next week

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