How much time do you spend giving yourself a hard time? Have you ever replayed a mental movie in your head over and over and just can’t seem to stop thinking about something no matter how many times you tell yourself to just ignore it?
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When I was really sick with Lyme disease this was an ongoing battle for me. One little event would happen and next thing I knew I came up with all of these worst case scenarios in my head. Of course they never happened the way I imagined but just these thoughts alone can do a lot of damage.
Emotional distress like holding on to anger, blaming others, or getting hung up on minor details compromises healing. Negative thoughts stuck on repeat can make you sicker.
When I was getting my health coach certification I learned from all kinds of doctors and experts in the health and wellness industry. One of the lectures was by Julia Cameron, creator of a practice she named Morning Pages. In all honesty I could barely make it through her lecture. I had trouble following what she was saying and said to myself there is no way I would ever do this.
I don’t know why but the next morning I woke up and decided to give Morning Pages a try. It was hard to do the first time but there was something about it that made me want to do it again. I had a lot of stuff going on in my head at the time and after writing about it, these nagging thoughts no longer consumed me.
I did Morning Pages for 2-3 weeks and it really helped with my state of mind. I had fewer negative thoughts and my mind started working better. Then I got lazy and stopped doing it. I still do it from time to time when I get nagging thoughts that won’t go away or when I want to break a negative cycle and shift to a better perspective.
If you want to try Morning Pages, here’s what you do.
Prepare: Have a pen and pad of paper right next to your bed.
As soon as you wake up write down as many of your dreams as you can remember. This was hard at first for me and I was able to recall more dreams the more I did the practice.
Then write down 10 things that you are grateful for that happened the day before. Even if you had the worst day of your life you can still find things to be grateful for. I write down things like, I am grateful for my loving and supportive family and friends (I know not everyone it loving and supportive so just think of those who are), I am grateful it was sunny yesterday, I am grateful for trash pickup, I am grateful for having a roof over my head, I am grateful that I never go hungry, I am grateful to have the freedom to do what I want, etc.
Then try to write 1-2 full pages of the first things that comes to your mind. If you are pissed at your friend for not understanding what the hell is wrong with you write about that, if you are angry that you are sick then write about that, if you are pissed that your boss is a total jerk, write about that.
Or maybe you feel incredibly blessed by someone who helped you out or said something really thoughtful to you. Then write about that. Just write whatever comes naturally and don’t force it. Don’t worry about sentence structure, or grammar, or anything like that. This is only meant for you unless you choose to share it with someone else.
I had a tough time writing 2 full pages the first few times I did it. My hand got sore since I don’t write much the old fashioned way and I ran out of stuff to write. But before long it came flowing out and I could easily write 3 pages.
The theory behind it is right when we first awake and are still half asleep we have better access to our subconscious mind. The act of writing down these negative feelings somehow releases them and you can go on with your day and not have to think about them.
If you write down something great that has happened it makes you feel better about it. Given the right opportunity your mind would much rather focus on the good and forget about the bad. This is an easy way to do just that.
I know this can be a little time consuming, especially the first few times your try it. At least it was for me. But think about it like this. When you get negative thoughts stuck in your head you’re not able to do much else.
You can literally waste hours of your day dwelling on one stupid comment from someone who you think is an idiot anyway. Instead, invest 30 minutes in yourself first thing in the morning and have pleasant thoughts for the rest of your day.
There are tons of other benefits so give it a try and let me know how it worked for you.