“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.”
Thank you for this.
I have been meaning to get back to journaling for quite a long time. Your words here are impetus for me to do it. When I journaled every day, I found myself a better person. I did, on occasion, rant, but, mostly I commented on the day behind and/or before me and I made a conscious effort to write positively and one thing I miss about journaling is that I did it pen-to-paper. I enjoy typing/word processing, but, there is something about the feel of pen on paper and the movement of writing that soothes me.
Your encouragement here is appreciated.
Penny, I rant sometimes too, although I call it venting. I think we have to sometimes, when things keep going wrong.
I do journal longhand, but I use the computer most often. That way I can mark any action items in bold.
My problem with longhand is that I can’t easily read my writing!
Thank you for the visit.
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Once upon a time I took up Thankful journaling, encouraged by Oprah. We were to write down three things we were thankful for that day. I found myself looking for positive things all day and I became a more positive person when I did that. I haven’t done that journaling in some time, but your post today makes me think about taking it back up. I know a certain Mr. Grumpy who could benefit from that too winky winky.
Cathy – That made me laugh, about Mr. Grumpy. Wonder who that could be?! He’s not so bad though. I don’t do daily gratitude postings, but maybe I’ll start daily at least noting SOMETHING I’m grateful for. Thanks for your comment.
Awesome thinking again Sue! As an executive life coach, one of my responsibilities is to reflect my clients’ strengths clearly for them to see. Your idea to journal with kindness will reflect the same optimism.
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Thank you, Diane. Indeed, you do well at reflecting your clients’ strengths clearly for them to see, as I know from past experience. Your support of my idea means a lot to me.
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This is great! I don’t journal, but self-talk DOES matter. I love this reminder on how we can be more constructive for ourselves.
I agree with you about self-talk, Michelle. Thank you for visiting.
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