“Self-coaching is what I teach coaches and clients to do. . . . We each have the ability to learn wisdom, and as we learn wisdom, we become our own counselor.” – Martha Beck, as quoted here.
We’ve talked in this blog about getting support from a counselor, friend, or a life coach. But often the best person to advise us is ourselves. I use my journal as a tool to coach myself.
I journal almost every day. Journals are a place to vent, but last year I became aware of how often I beat myself up in my journal. Complaining about my mistakes or my lack of motivation only reinforces negative thoughts about myself. I have been working to change that. I ask, “Would I talk to a friend this way?” If not, then maybe I shouldn’t write or talk to myself that way either. I still sometimes say I will do something differently next time, but it is more of a note than a criticism.
I try to write something constructive in my journal or to answer journaling prompts. This has made my journaling more relevant and empowering. Here are some prompts that I consider important:
- “If I were confident, how would I talk and act about my goals?”
- “What am I grateful for?”
- “What are my intentions for today?”
And sometimes I use my journal to coach myself about specific goals—most recently for training for a race. I write down when I’ve done well and when something needs changing. One evening early in my training, I realized I hadn’t exercised that day. I wrote, “Oh no, I’m already failing.” But instead of staying in that negative mood, I asked myself if there was anything I could do about it. I decided to go for a walk in the dark and invited my husband to join me. Surprisingly (since it was only 2 degrees outside), he said yes.
Here is additional coaching I’ve given myself about my running:
- When I’m wondering what to do next, go for a walk. Stretch or use the foam roller. Go for a run.
- I did not meet an interim goal I had set towards my bigger race goal. Rather than be despondent, I am using that fact to push myself into exercising, eating properly, and training seriously.
- I am giving up sugar. I’m not going to be ultra strict, but when I want sweets, I will try to choose fruit, yogurt, or a hot chocolate. Food is a fuel. I want to give myself the opportunity to lose a little weight and build muscle.
- It is difficult for me when there’s a buffet or “free food.” As a kid, I was taught to eat a lot in such situations. As an adult, I need to change that way of thinking. Eat the healthy food and get away from the table. Go socialize instead.
- It is taking me too long to get ready for 7:00 AM long runs. I will create a checklist of items needed and get ready the night before.
- When I recieve conflicting advice about my training, I will consider the advice and then do what I think is best.
We can use our journals to coach ourselves about anything. We just need to remember that a coach is supportive. A coach asks questions and pokes about next steps. A coach helps us overcome challenges and improve our lives.
Journaling prompts: Do you speak to yourself like you would to a friend? How have you coached yourself?
This post was written in response to an invitation from Dawn Herring at www.dawnherring.net. Thank you, Dawn. It is part of a #JournalChat Open House on the topic “Your Journaling: The Greatest Relevance.”