This is a conversation that is truly important. How many of you have had some crappy stuff happen in your life? May even in the last year or two, having to navigate a lot of hard things. That question is something, whether spoken or implied, that I help a lot of people navigate as a coach and leader of masterminds. And even as a pastor… this question comes up a lot: HOW DO I DEAL WITH THE HARD STUFF? Maybe not even just deal with it, but how do I process it? How to go from anger or rage or hurt or frustration or confusion? How do I go from that to processing it and coming out on the other side in a better place? That’s what I want to address today.
I’m going to tell you the biggest way that I do that and this is not going to shock anyone who already knows me… The biggest way I deal with all this stuff is journaling! It’s such a powerful thing! If you want to make journaling a habit, I have a 60 day journaling course that I created… message me or drop a comment and I can send you some info about it because I believe that journaling is the one habit to rule them all. As I like to say, this journaling habit has changed my life, but I want to tell you about this one specific aspect of journaling. It enables me to process my life in real time, especially when going through the hard things!
How do I process the hard things; the hurt, the pain, the anger, the frustration, the jealousy, the offense, the unforgiveness? How do I process those things now? Just to be clear I am a huge proponent of counseling and coaching and those things are invaluable. Community is invaluable. But you can do a lot more work than you realize in the journal to help yourself get to that healthier place and I can give you eight steps to processing the hard things.
I did this very recently over the weekend and I was processing something that I had some very charged emotions about, something that I had a lot more emotion about than I thought I would. What do I do with that? I just had to vent it out, just to vomit all this raw, unfiltered feelings and write them out in my journal. Being honest about how I was really feeling and what happened.
After you pour your heart out onto the page, you can shift from your heart to your head. And by getting it on paper, you create this space and now you can see it there and step back into a more objective perspective. And from there you move to step two.
And what are your observations from all of that? When they did that, I felt this and it surprised me. I see it now as I write it down… I said this and then I said this here when I was venting and sometimes I see where these connected and I didn’t even realize it. So when you are observing, you can see some connections.
There was an occasion not too far back and I was frustrated with my wife. I know if you are married, you probably have experienced those moments. And I went in starting this process: Venting, Observing and it was about an hour and a half long. At the beginning, I was just sooo angry. And by the time I had finished, it felt like a counseling session; pouring my heart out and doing some deep work. And this process allowed for me to walk away from this feeling of anger, switch to empowered and we had a great date night that evening. And it was because I was able to process it and then share the appropriate things with her that were empowering.
Now, again, we’re still kind of in this objective spot and you can say, “Why did I feel that way?” or “Why did I do that?” or “Why did I think that? You don’t really want to focus on other people in this process as much as yourself. So ask yourself; “Where did that come from?” or “Where does that energy, that emotion, that anger come from?” or “Am I really mad at them or am I mad at something else?” or “Am I mad at what they triggered in me?” (ex. they made me think about what someone did to me as a kid)
And I am sure you are asking, WHY should I ask questions?
It is an amazing process of journaling. When you ask questions, you have more answers and you realize perhaps you are missing part of the process in getting through the hard stuff. Recently on a mastermind call I had a gal share with me that she was skipping that step. She was doing the venting part and for the most part none of the rest of the process. At the end of that call she had an empowering takeaway because she vented all these feelings and emotions and she wasn’t previously processing the hard stuff.
Maybe you’re like, I don’t know why I’m unhappy all the time when I’m angry at people or thinking everyone else is wrong because you’re not processing it. YOu’re just venting it out… Just step one. You’ve got to be able to process that all the way through and you need to do that by observing yourself. You can do that by asking questions.
Okay, what do I mean by that? Well, you’re going to have some observations, you’re going to ask some questions and then you’re going to see connect the dots from this to this. And at first it might seem like that doesn’t matter, but follow the threads.
This connects back to a conversation I had earlier this week. And to a thought I also had earlier thought I had this week, and I am glad because that thing earlier in the week was all highlighting the same issue in my heart that I needed to deal with. And truthfully I saw it more clearly because I followed the threads. And there’s a reason for me, it’s the Holy Spirit is there involved in the process; leading and guiding me. You might fram that language a little bit differently, but when you get in the flow and you’re journaling, you start to see the threads and connections.
Now I know this next one is not for everyone, but that’s okay. Personally, scripture is my bedrock, my base, my foundation. The Word of God, the Bible is the filter for my life. That’s where I find TRUTH. And typically the Holy Spirit speaks to me to open my eyes a little bit more, to give me a fresh perspective that I didn’t see before to give me hope and create conviction in my heart.
And maybe for those that aren’t going to the scripture, maybe it is a step back to say, Okay, what do other people say about this? Maybe it is going to a Brene Brown quote on Google. Or it could be someone else with wisdom and quotes that speak to you in those hard moments.
I don’t know who said this first, but the statement: You want to see things as they are not worse, that they are not better than they are, but as they are. And when it comes to balance, you want to see the heart issues you need to deal with. But also acknowledge when you do something that is really, really good in a rough situation. Maybe you used to react by blasting someone and you didn’t blast them this time but you realize you are still feeling those angry feelings, so how are you going to process that?
You’re going to be a pro, you will be processing it, metabolizing it. So you can take it in and it’s no longer having the charged negative energy in your life. You’re processing it so you can learn, you can grow and you can get better. If you need to vent, vent, vent… just don’t get stuck there. You’re not going to be balanced.
You’re only going to be looking at yourself with negativity. I suck, I’m horrible… and I’m always doing this. And I’m a failure as a mom, dad, husband, wife, or boss. If you only vent, there will be no balance. So instead use the process as it helps to balance you out and see the good. Maybe even asking yourself the question, What did I do right in this situation? Where is my proof of growth in this situation?
When I get to this step, I have done quite a bit of journaling… and it could take up to three pages in my journal, just because there is a lot to process. The bigger the issue, the more there is to process, but you can do this with just about any situation in your life that you are processing through. It helps get to the other side. At this point in the process, I want to summarize because I have written a few pages and I want to sum up my big takeaways. It might be that I’ve got to deal with this pride issue. Or I’m celebrating because I didn’t overreact and I did better than I used to. I take this time to summarize the big “Ah-Has” if you will!
So that could look like:
Like this past weekend I wrote down three names to help process through the event that took place. And had a conversation with one of them and it really solidified some of the things that I’d already journaled and started to see it all more clearly. So empowering takeaways, you might start in turmoil in a mess emotionally inside, like stirred up, fired up, ticked off, whatever it might be; hurt or offended.
And if you follow the whole process by the time you get to the end, you should feel empowered. You should have taken back your power because you have the power to choose and therefore you have the power to change.
And by the way, sometimes the empowering takeaway means you might need to let go of some of the things you saw in the process. I am going to give you a real honest story. And that was at that moment when I was angry with my wife… and I was thinking there were some things that I felt my wife could have done differently or that she still had something to learn. But guess what? That’s not in my control. So when I had a conversation with my wife later that night, I didn’t tell her what she needed to fix. I shared my empowering takeaways and let go of the rest of it. It might have been grace, forgiveness, releasing or whatever language you want to give to it. You take what you are responsible for and let the rest of it go.
I’m telling you guys, follow the process: Vent, Observe, Ask, Follow the Threads, Scripture (and other resources), Balance, Summarize, and then use your Empowering Takeaways and you will be able to process stuff to get to a better place. You’ll increase your self-awareness, mental health, spiritual health, and the quality of your relationships… and it is an ongoing process. It could be weeks, even months before I’ve got something significant that I need to do this process with and it might be multiple things in one week. And literally you might bounce around.
Here’s the big picture, you start pouring out your heart, then you go to your head to process, observe, ask questions, do some introspection and by the end of it you will probably want to get back into your heart. You want to feel good, you want to be giving yourself grace, giving other people grace and stepping into things not just intellectually with your head. Using both head and heart, that’s where we make our best decisions.
I know I just gave you a lot… but if you have any major takeaways feel free to comment below!! And if you want to know more about the journaling course; contact me and let me know so I can get you the link.
And now you should go out there and give your greatness to the world because somebody needs what’s on the inside of you!! Love you guys, I hope you work this process so that you can get stronger, healthier, better and give all of your greatness to the world!!