One simple tool that will help you listen, and change

Listening to the messages your body sends out isn’t always easy. It’s not that you aren’t able to hear the messages. You are more than able. The difficulty is in actually paying attention to the messages, really hearing them. And then of course doing something about them.

The messages that are sometimes tucked deep inside can conjure up emotions and feelings you don’t want to address. They can feel overwhelming or not doable.  Usually, the body and mind send us signals because some change is needed. Everything might feel “okay” on the surface, but when you dig a little deeper and are honest, something doesn’t feel right. Something feels like it needs to change.

Change is a funny word. You fear it and yet it is the only constant in life.

It will never let you down in that it isn’t going anywhere. Change is everywhere and…here to stay.

I used to always say I didn’t like change. And I would work hard to keep things the status quo. It felt safer. If nothing changed, then everything I planned would work out – perfectly. We all know how well that thinking works. It doesn’t. That kind of thinking keeps you stuck, perhaps spinning your wheels.  Over time it likely will leave you feeling unfulfilled.

Whether you are thinking about how you will start the new year, contemplating a new career or relationship, or debating which lifestyle to adopt to leave you feeling more vibrant, change will be part of the equation. And it is good to prepare for the change that is to come. But more importantly, it is an important step to get clear on why the change in necessary.

One tool to help you listen

The why is actually more important than the how. It’s the first step.  If you start with the how you miss an integral step in determining your purpose for making the change in the first place. Purpose becomes ultra important when the going gets tough. When faced with obstacles towards your goal, your why will save you. It is that strong force reminding you that what you are doing is worth it.

Deciding your why for your next job, relationship, diet, new year is important work. And doing it isn’t often a one-and-done proposition. You can sit for 15 minutes and think and think…and think, and come up with a good plan – a how you will make something happen. That does work. But to come up with a more full understanding of these often, major next steps – your why – and help make the impending change sustainable this is one of the best tools:

A journal.

Seems like a simple tool, and you might have thought I would say something more profound. But simple is good. Simple just means that the path to what you want can be more uncomplicated than you think.

The method of journaling — using a blank paged, often lined book to actively write things down — takes a little effort often to make it stick and keep you coming back to the pages often. You, like many others, might say you don’t have time but really what you don’t have time for is spinning your wheels, living in fear, not making progress to living well this one life you’ve got.

Listening to your body, to your intuition, means listening to all the messages it is sending. It is an important component of wellness and to getting to the root of what you really need in order to create a life you love.

If you are willing to listen, there is so much you will hear. It’s not that you would never hear it without journaling. It is that it can be less work to journal than to carry the load of overwhelm, or constantly beat yourself up about why you haven’t made any changes yet. {Which incidentally is often because you don’t know where to start. And journaling can help with that, too!}

Writing things down in a journal has many benefits:

1. It connects you to your self.

And it can be a powerful connection. What you write is between you and the paper. And that kind of freedom can often propel you to express more. The more you express and open up to the pages of your journal, the more you will grow, and learn about what you need, or don’t need, in order to achieve more lightness and joy in your life. You are also more likely to hold yourself accountable to make the necessary changes to improve your life that through your writing will become clearer.

2. It grounds you.

There is stillness in journaling and writing things down that allows you to be more present and grateful in your life. As well, when you write down all the “noise” you can leave it behind easier. You add calm into your life because when you get it on the page it is as if you were you were able to get something off your chest that was weighing on you. There is magic in writing it down, and sorting it out on paper. It helps you come back to center and bring less drama into your active world.

3. It helps you pay attention to the signals.

When you feel overwhelmed and stressed, perhaps by the mess in the kitchen, the clutter in your office, or the project at work that is due yesterday – your body and mind are sending you signals that something isn’t right. Pay attention to the signals – listen to them  by writing about why you feel that way. Often when you freely write ideas come forth. Sometimes feelings of sadness or fear do as well. But these are all part of sorting things out and making sense of what you need.

4. It helps you relax.

Journaling can take you to a different place, a freer place where safety abounds. When you are in a relaxed state your subconscious — the place where your heart truly knows what you want and need — is more open. The more you journal the more you are able to put the pieces together of what you need to do, or change. It is in front of you! You can see it, and perhaps embrace the necessary changes more easily.

Don’t get caught up in the “how to” journal. It is not meant to be complicated. And – surprise, surprise – there is no perfect way to do it. This is simply about writing daily what doesn’t feel right, or what needs to change. Writing brings you to solutions and ah-ha moments. And answers.

Just give it a try. Buy a journal that feels good to you. I prefer a spiral bound, 8×10 (ish) sized notebook. {It feels good. And because it feels good, I use it.}

Then carve out some time – say 5-10 minutes every day to just write. I often suggest that writing first thing in the morning {aptly called morning pages} is a particularly good time. So many thoughts have built up in your subconscious overnight and getting them out on paper can be a nice, fresh way to start with clarity.  {It’s a far better habit to do each morning than checking your phone first.}

Write whatever comes to mind. Or write specifically about something that is bothering, exciting, or scaring you.

Just write. And listen.

Before you enter a new year, relationship, job, lifestyle, give yourself the time to listen to what you really need, and want.

Then embrace all the ideas that come forth, and make the necessary changes with confidence.

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stop the spinning wheels, do this to start feeling sane