I wish I had known about truth journaling when I was in graduate school, pursuing a degree in psychology. I was overweight, living in a disorganized mess, and in debt. I’ll stop there because the list would be very long otherwise. I tried many things to change my life at the time, like a new diet and New Age teaching. But nothing had the power that I needed to change my life.
I had wandered away from God. But even once I’d made my way home and was established as a Christian psychologist, I still struggled. I felt helpless in my fear, anger, and sadness. When various things went wrong in my life, I would lie awake replaying words and events. Even a few years ago, I procrastinated projects like Grammar Galaxy because of multiple fears. I wasn’t making progress in changing bad habits.
Truth journaling reminded me of the assignment I often gave to anxious clients (and used myself). I asked clients to record everything they were anxious about and to write next to it an action step they would take. That action step might be to pray or to take a small step to address the problem. This process is very helpful for people who ruminate about things. But truth journaling is different.
In truth journaling, we write down what we are thinking that is upsetting to us. For example, one I used early on with truth journaling is:
My friend hasn’t called me back, so she is mad at me.
Before I began truth journaling, I freaked out over thoughts like this. Sorry to destroy your illusions about psychologists! I would respond by imagining every terrible interaction I might have with my friend. I would have trouble sleeping. I wouldn’t be able to concentrate. But after truth journaling, I would talk back to this thought in writing.
She is probably busy. If she is mad at you, it’s her responsibility to tell you. There have been other times she hasn’t called you back and she wasn’t mad. If she is mad at you, you’ll work it out. Even if she never spoke to you again, you’d be okay. God has gotten you through much worse.
After truth journaling, I feel immense relief. The process of getting thoughts on paper is so powerful. Thoughts sequestered in our heads can wreak havoc. Once on paper, these thoughts reveal themselves to be lies and distortions. A phone call not returned does not prove anything — not even death, which is another thing I’ve feared.
How Truth Journaling Changed My Habits
I recently wrote about time management lies homeschool moms believe. One of them is that we’ll have time to do this later. Now that I’ve been truth journaling, I can recognize lies without writing them down. When I tell myself that I’ll have time to hang my clothes up tomorrow, I know this is a lie. I won’t have more time or energy tomorrow. The truth is that habits are created by what we do every day — not what we do when we feel like we have loads of time and energy. So I hang my clothes up right away.
My friend, Tom Dixon, guest posts today. I think you will come away with new understanding, motivation, and tools for achieving your goals as I did. Please visit his excellent blog, Monday is Good.
I’ve been trying to lose weight for years. Around the first of each new year, I’d set lofty goals around how many pounds I’d drop. I’d track everything I ate and how much I exercised.
However, instead of getting thinner, I’ve ended every year for the last 20 heavier than I started. Those big goals in January were forgotten by March.
That is, up until last year.
I still have more to go, but I ended 2013 a little more than 35 pounds lighter. That’s just the part the scale says. What feels even better is:
I’m completely off my asthma medication, and am taking half the dosage of another prescription
I actually own articles of clothing that say “medium”
I went from a 42″ jean size to a 36″ – I haven’t been in a 36 since high school!
I can jog for 30 minutes (up from 30 seconds) and plan to do a 5k in the Spring
I have seventy-five times the energy I’ve ever had
So, what was different?
I got some help.
That’s it. I recognized that I didn’t have the necessary skills or knowledge to accomplish my goal. Fortunately for me, I found someone who did. That was the big difference. In the past I’ve always gone at it alone, but this time I started working with a personal trainer.
I’m not sharing this because you care about my weight loss. I’m quite sure you don’t. I’m not trying to get everyone to hire a personal trainer. However, I am asking you to identify that one goal you keep chasing.
What do you keep trying to do, but can’t quite get done?
Get out of debt or control your spending
Change careers or get a promotion
Improve relationships with your spouse or children
Manage your time better
I coach people to identify the “why” behind their goals. It’s only when you understand the reason behind what you want to achieve that you stand a chance of succeeding. Assuming that piece is in place, the quickest way to accomplish any of these common goals is to find someone succeeding in that area.
For me, that was a 23-year-old punk at the Y. For you, it may be a career coach or marriage counselor. You’re looking for someone who can:
Tell you what to do, and when. I didn’t have the time or inclination to learn about strength training. In fact, there was no place I felt any less comfortable than at the gym. When you get help, you skip the learning curve and go right into solution mode.
Help you set goals. This is critical to make sure you are both on the same page. I’m working on being able to bench press 135lbs, do a pull-up (yes, just one), and run a 5k in less than 30 minutes. The work I do with my trainer is to support these specific goals.
Keep you accountable. I probably would have quit about 12 times already if I didn’t know I had to show up at 8PM on Tuesday night to workout. If I slack off on my diet or don’t do my homework, then I’m going to struggle.
Take your money. Seriously – you want the kind of help you pay for. When you pay for something it becomes a priority. Free advice is okay, but generally won’t move you forward. Both sides need some skin in the game.
I’m hoping you have already set some solid goals for 2014. If not, check out my goal setting guide(which includes a worksheet) to get you going.
Who are you going to ask for help in 2014? Do it.
Tom Dixon, CPIM, is a demand planning expert and experienced career coach. He is passionate about building processes and teams to accomplish great things. Tom founded Monday Is Good to leverage his “in the trenches” experience with career transition to help others look forward to Monday. He believes that work should be fulfilling, energizing, and a source of joy in your life.
A Christian Psychologist’s Approach to Weight Loss
As a psychologist, my preferred approach to weight loss is a cognitive behavioral one. I see the need for changed thinking before lasting change will occur. As a Christian, my preferred approach is to rely on God and His Word to create the needed change.
In I Deserve a Donut, you find both. It’s a reference book of the lies we tell ourselves that keep us overeating together with the tools we need to defeat them. Author, Barb Raveling, takes readers through a series of questions in every tempting situation that if answered, will be enough to bolster your resistance. In addition, Scriptures related to each tempting situation are available for the renewing of your mind.
Does it work?
You may have the same skepticism that I did in reading the premise of the book. Am I really going to pick up this book when I’m tempted to eat a donut? Maybe not. But the questions and Scripture can be just as effective after the fact.
The most powerful testimonial Barb shares in the book is that her friend lost 100 pounds by just reading through the book and renewing her mind with truth daily.
Even better, the book is appropriate for any approach to weight loss you choose. You will not be sorry you purchased this life- and waistline-changing book. I’m waiting for the author to come out with a book on procrastination.
We’re always being told not to try and be Wonder Woman, but that’s exactly who I want to be! While we are ordinary women who will never be perfect, God created us to be extraordinary in His Super Power.
I’m a Christian psychologist turned homeschooling mother of six who writes and speaks for myself first. I research what I most need to know as a woman who struggles and then share my best tips with you. If you’re a fellow Wonder Woman (or even just a wannabe), please leave a link to your blog here. I’d love to learn from you!
The best part of being on a diet is going off. I don't consider eating according to Body for Life principles a "diet" per se, but I do enjoy the permitted free meals. A lot.
I was all set to enjoy a free meal at our favorite BBQ restaurant with the family last week, only to discover that the menus were changed. Oh, the entrees were the same, but with one small, yet painful difference. A calorie count was listed for each meal. My health-conscious husband was exclaiming over the big numbers and righteously made a lower-calorie choice.
Normally, I would have approved that the restaurant made such a great, healthy change. After all, we often unknowingly ingest an entire day's worth of food in one meal when we eat out and then struggle to manage our weight. The problem was, I had been eating clean for several days and I wanted to really let loose and enjoy. Those nasty calorie counts wouldn't let me. I cut back on my order and went home disappointed. What was worse is that I felt unmotivated to eat clean the next day.
The lesson learned is don't go to a restaurant with calorie counts for a free meal. Not really. 🙂 What I really learned is that not having an occasional opportunity to be truly free in what I eat is a hindrance to me. Further, I learned that I have been on a time diet for quite some time with no decent free meals.
Suddenly, I finally understood why 15-minute breaks and a scant hour of free time a day leave me wanting. My recreational time needs to be free of calorie counts and I need a big portion of it. Perpetually pursuing a task management approach that leaves me with no guilt-free days is a recipe for a binge. No wonder after having pushed myself hard or having been pulled in multiple directions, I often sit like a slug, web surfing for hours on end. I want to eat my time like a plate of fries with ketchup without anyone telling me what a waste it is. If I can slurp up the hours without guilt, I can easily get back to work the next day.
Body for Life's free day is Sunday. As Christians, that's our free day, too. My goal is to take full advantage of it so I can get things done next week. Care to pull up a chair and share my fries? I've got a Sharpie to take care of the menu.
“Eat it today,” Moses said, “because today is a sabbath to the LORD. (Exodus 16:25)
I don't know what took me so long to make my book available for the Kindle when I'm the Kindle queen! My sweet mom bought me a Kindle for Christmas a few years ago and I loved it. When I got an iPad, I loved the Kindle iPad app even more. Lots of women ask me about the ins and outs of Kindles and iPads but they're not usually the women reading my blog, so I won't bore you with that! If you don't have a Kindle or an iPad, you can still read my book for just 99 cents! Just download this free online Kindle reader.
So You're Not Wonder Woman is a book inspired by God, my life story, and the requests of women I speak to. It's a get-real look at women's issues and how God wants to empower us to deal with them. Here is what I have heard from women who've read it:
I can really relate!
I had no idea you struggled like I do
I am so inspired to finally lose weight
I'm ready to get organized
My husband is just like your husband
I love it!
I've read it three times!
I would love for you to read it, too. If you do, please write a review and feel free to lend it to one friend for free (via the Kindle guidelines). If you prefer to order a paperback, I've recently reduced the price by a third to $9.99. It's included in a buy 4-for-3 promotion right now, too. Click on the underlined, colored links above to find my book on Amazon and thank you for reading!