I hung my head. There just didn't feel like a way I could keep up with everything.
That's when I hung up the phone and hopped into the next meeting.
I just didn't have time to think about it right now.
“I need to make more time,” was my first thought.
Then I thought about a quote I recently read:
“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” - Stephen R. Covey
I wasn't making conscious choices with my time, so I decided to make a change. I decided to start with the basics. I would ask myself a simple question that I don’t ask myself enough throughout the day.
How am I feeling right now?
This question opened me up to so much that I was ignoring before. I noticed that I fell into the habit my father modeled for me. He would just push his feelings aside and ignore them until they went away.
I would just tackle the next task instead of acknowledging what was going on inside of me. I still do this quite a bit. By journaling about the present moment and how I felt, I revealed new parts of myself that I didn't even realize were there.
That's when meditation really started clicking for me.
I had been meditating for years, but now I was really tuning in and I'll admit it was quite painful. Instead of ignoring my grumpiness, I now was peeling away the layers and asking myself why.
Why was I grumpy?
I noticed most of the time my grumpiness was due to my expectations. I expected to get to work faster. I expected my client to be on time. I expected my son to listen to me.
Some of these expectations are valid, but they are just expectations nonetheless. It was up to me to decide if I wanted these expectations to dictate my happiness.
The practice of meditation made keeping my awareness journal possible. I don't think I would have been able to tune into these thoughts and feelings without sitting down for 10 minutes a day to meditate.
The cool part was that my awareness journal also helped my meditation practice. When a thought came in, I didn't just push it away. I thanked it and played with it for a bit before letting it go.
That's the beauty of mindset training. It gets easier to put your focus on what matters instead of letting the situation dictate your mood.
When you start your awareness journal you want to keep track of your thoughts and how they trigger your emotions. It’s our emotions that many of us need to work with. It’s what gives us the feedback that shows us how we are growing or not growing as we would like. As you work with your thoughts and feelings to appreciate the difficult situation, you are learning how to appreciate your thoughts and feelings and not let them sweep you away into a negative space.
When you start your awareness journal I suggest that you keep it with you at first. After the first week you should be able to remember and write these moments down at the end of your day.
Your entries should look something like this:
- I was frustrated when my son ignored my request.
- I was overwhelmed when I was late to work and stuck at a red light.
- I was happy when my teammate thanked me for helping him with his presentation.
The more detail the better. This process will help you discover new parts of yourself that you’ve never noticed before.
As you progress, you can use the awareness journal to understand how you feel in certain situations. By tuning into your body, you will begin to notice these sensations quicker and not let them run you over. You notice them and dance with them.
Some more advanced awareness journal entries may look something like this:
- I was frustrated when my son ignored my request. I could feel the tension in my chest.
- I was overwhelmed when I was late to work and stuck at a red light. I could feel my left foot tapping in irritation as I waited for the light to turn green.
- I was happy when my teammate thanked me for helping him with his presentation. I could feel the pride tingle in my forehead.
The most amazing part of an Awareness Journal is that life becomes more joyful. It's like running out on to a field to play soccer and knowing you are going to have fun because you’ve been preparing for this moment and you are ready.
I played tennis as a kid and the better I got the more I enjoyed the game. The game slowed down and I could anticipate many of my opponents next moves. Unfortunately I didn't have very fast feet, so I didn't do well at the college level. I'm glad now because I've focused on writing, research and coaching others in their lives.
You might feel this when you play a video game. The first few days are very hard and then it gets easier. You begin to master the ins and outs of the game.
This is what happened to me with the Awareness Journal. It allowed me to play in a different level and relax just a bit more. My anxiety has stopped dictating my enjoyment of a situation and I’m much more present and aware of everything going on.
Try an Awareness Journal for just 30 days. This process does come with some emotional pain. When you notice thoughts and feelings and dive into them it can get uncomfortable, but the more you do it the more you calm your anxiety and learn about yourself. When you reduce your fear, this helps you become the person that you are meant to be.
Photo by Hannah Olinger