I’ve talked about My AM Routine and My PM Routine that I have used over the past year to help me with my thoughts and staying positive. I want to discuss one more tool I’ve used that has helped me stay positive as a parent and not let the craziness bring me down. I have two journals that I use to achieve this.
The Color Journal
One of my journals I call the color journal. It is where I record:
- Events of the day, good and bad
- Successes experienced by myself, my wife and/or children
- Gratitude for what I have, or what happened
- Thoughts I have about where life is going and things I and/or my family need to work on
I write in my journal at the end of the day in order to process the day’s events and to help me sleep better. I keep the journal by my bedside to remind me to write. I go back to this journal to remember the funny things that happened and to review lessons learned.
The Black Journal
The Black Journal is a fairly simple concept. When a negative thought enters your mind you do two things:
- You write down the negative thought
- You write down the opposite of that thought and then one more positive statement
For example, if I were to think “I’m not good enough,” I would write that down in the black journal. Then I would write its opposite “I AM good enough.” Finally, I would write down one other positive statement about myself, for instance, “I look good today.”
The goal here is to replace the negative thought with two positive thoughts. The writing down of the negative thought releases it from your mind. Writing two positive thoughts replaces the negative thought.
I do this especially when I have had a difficult day of parenting. I find that I begin to doubt myself or beat myself up. So “I’m a bad parent,” becomes, “I am an amazing Dad and I tell great jokes.” This doesn’t mean I don’t improve my parenting, it just means I am not going to shame myself for making a mistake. I learn from it and move on.
I’ve also used my Black Journal to do something called FADES. The acronym stands for Frustration, Anger, Disappointment, Embarrassment, and Sadness. FADES is used Monday through Friday in the evening in this way:
- Monday – In the Black Journal you write “I feel frustrated because…” and then list off reasons why you are frustrated
- Tuesday – You write “I feel anger because…” and then list off reasons why you feel anger
- Wednesday – Disappointment
- Thursday – Embarrassment
- Friday – Sadness
Don’t spend more than 15 minutes writing. If you bog yourself down trying to write everything that makes you feel frustrated, angry, disappointed, embarrassed or sad, you may get overwhelmed.
Being a Better Parent
So how do my journals help me to be a better parent? The journals help me to record my feelings and impressions. I can look at the events of the day in my color journal and decide what action to take tomorrow.
I release negativity by using my black journal. Using this technique helps me be more positive with my children. This, in turn, helps our relationships to grow stronger. I can always tell when I have and haven’t used my black journal, by how I interact with my children.
The journals also help me see the progress I’ve made. When I’m writing about an event, I can be triggered to remember a similar event. Then, I find that event in my journal to see how I handled it. I can compare the current event with the past one and learn from both. The next time a similar situation occurs, my mind will recall what I recorded and help me to handle it better.