Moody? Manage Your Emotions By Writing Them Down

Written by Mari McCarthy

People can be moody. Sometimes we’re energetic and optimistic, and sometimes we’re sluggish and blue. We have our own internal weather, seemingly as capricious as clouds. 

But here is where we can take a cue from the atmospheric weather. We have no delusions that we have become the weather. As long as we’re rational, we know that the weather will change. It may affect us, but we don’t get confused and think we've become the rain or the snow.

With inside weather, meaning our own emotions, we start believing they define us. We’re "seized" by a mood, or we're "overcome" by fear or joy. We usually say, I am sad instead of I feel sad. We tend to identify with feelings; we often don’t try to separate from them.

There are many reasons why we take our inner weather so seriously and many justifications for letting it kidnap our identity. Mostly, the power and passion of emotions are hard to resist. The sheer force of a strong feeling is cathartic and can easily be mistaken for salvation or some other ultimate fate.

In short, we forget that our emotional life is the same as weather. It may shape us and color our days, but it remains merely atmospheric and can’t touch the core, unchanging reality of the Self.

It’s that self which journal writing, when done pen-to-page on a daily basis, slowly, gently, lovingly unearths.

The process of writing in a journal is like digging up buried treasure, loosening the packed earth around the forgotten You as you were born so that your core Self can at last begin to emerge.

One distinguishing characteristic of the core self is that it is far less subject to moods. From the self’s viewpoint, moods are properly perceived as weather: temporal, external, and beside-the-point.

This is not at all to say that the core self has no heart! To the contrary, a generous heart may well be the Self’s strongest trait. Just because we are freed from the tyranny of emotions in no way means that we no longer feel them. We feel them as much as ever!

But, as journaling teaches us, we’re no longer slaves to our emotions.

Here are some practices to get started on your journal to emotional freedom.

  • Describe in your journal a day in the past when your emotional state completely obsessed you. Write about what happened before, during, and after the emotion possession. The particular day you select may have involved positive or negative emotion.
  • Use the following process to examine your current emotional state in your journal: Sit down with your journal, close your eyes, and take one long deep breath.
  • Open your eyes and write the first word or phrase that comes to mind. Add a few more words if you wish.
  • Take another long deep breath and open the floodgates, letting your pen ramble on from the prompts of those keywords you wrote in step two.
  • When you feel in the grip of an emotion, use your journal to describe the feeling and to dialogue with it. Ask questions of it: where did you come from, what do you want from me, how can we live together peacefully?

Before long, with the help of journaling, we can learn to experience emotions in the same way we experience the weather – as lightly noteworthy but nonessential distractions.

How’s your inner weather these days? Does it seem like emotions get the better of you? Are you at war with your own feelings? Journal writing is an accessible and powerful way to reclaim inner calm and strengthen the core Self.

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