A couple weeks ago, I wrote the post Sit Down and Write. In it, I promised that I was going to write about a process I personally use to get to the bottom of whatever issues I may be dealing with. It’s called journaling, and it’s a method that was taught to me by my counselor.
The idea is simple enough. The process takes blatant honesty, which isn’t always simple, even when you’re dedicated to the idea.
Journaling to find the root of the problem.
Step One: Write down the problem or the issue that you’re dealing with.
Step Two: Write down the question, “why is that such a big deal to me?”
Step Three: Answer the question.
Step Four: Write down the question, “why is that a big deal to me?”
Step Five: Answer the question.
Step Six: Continue in this process until you get to the underlying root of the problem.
Step Seven: Write down your emotional need based on the root you’ve discovered.
Step Eight: Give yourself an action item to deal with the root (not the original problem) as well as to get your emotional need met.
It’s much easier if you see it in action before trying it yourself. Here is a journal I did shortly after my second wife left to help me figure out why I was upset with a friend. The names have all been changed.
Why is that a big deal to me?
Why is that a big deal to me?
After doing this chain, I was able to see that I was upset because I had a fear of rejection (which is quite often the case when doing these chains). Once I figured that out, I was able to be real about it and get my emotional needs met. I completed my action steps, and the problem immediately went away.
The problem is, most of us try and treat the symptom instead of the disease when we’re dealing with things. As we do rash things to try and correct the surface issues, our needs go unmet, and we often do more damage than good in the process. By doing a journaling session before we tackle pressing issues, it opens up the ability to make decisions that actually have the ability to fix things for us.
The key, and often the trickiest part, is to forget about the original problem while you do your journaling. Every time you ask the question “Why is that a big deal to me?” you need to focus only on whatever was written immediately before it, forgetting your original problem altogether. You can’t let what originally bugged you affect anything else. If you do, you’ll have a hard time getting to the true root.
So, there you have it. It’s the process I use to make sure I’m overcoming my life’s problems in the most healthy way possible, and it has really done some good things for me. Take it or leave it. I hope you’ll at least try it. It can be used for heavy issues, and it can be used for simple and barely significant issues. It can be used to figure out the hard stuff such as heart-pounding jealousy or resentment towards loved ones as much as it can be used to figure out why you’re annoyed by something seemingly minuscule.Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
PS. Anybody else use this process? What do you find is usually the root emotion? For me, it’s almost always fear of rejection, and it seems to be the case with most everybody that I’ve taught this to, though other roots do come up and will come up. Also, if you have done this, have you found that it gets easier and easier to get to that root each time you journal? I know that has certainly been the case for me.
Thank you very much for sharing today’s post.