Journaling: How to thwart selective memory

Jane Client bursts into tears in my healing room, convinced she was a horrible mother and a terrible wife because she was so judgemental. She was doubly upset though, because after six months of work, she was STILL acting this way.

Jane is one of my favourite clients because in-between sessions she does the really hard work of changing her situation so she can feel better about herself. So far we had dealt with her low self-confidence and self-esteem, and then built up her personal power, but not this judgemental issue specifically. I finally realized that Jane had somehow managed to discount six months of really heavy work on herself because a new, pressing issue revealed itself. She felt like she was back at square one.

Healing is like peeling an onion. As each layer is removed, a new one presents itself. It’s impossible to get to the soft juicy middle without first tearing off the hard crusty outer bit.

I gently asked Jane, as this was such an amazingly huge issue in her life, if she thought she could have dealt with this six, four or even one month ago? If she could have tackled a lifelong personality flaw, as she described it, without first building up herself? After thinking about it, she decided that no, she could not have.

What I admire about healing work, is that once you clear an issue or an aspect of a trauma, it is gone. A new aspect or angle of the issue may present itself for future healing, but not the same one. And once it’s gone, well, it’s common to think like you never felt that way – ever.

This is selective memory. It’s so easy to forget how far you have come on your journey because your baseline gets raised every session. That’s why it is so important to journal. It is to remind yourself, “Wow. I have come so far. I have overcome so much already. I can handle this new challenge in front of me, no problem.”

Alisen's two personal journals.

It’s okay to keep it light. Since 2008 I’ve only used up two journals.

I like to make journaling simple and quick. I don’t write down my every moment of every day. In fact, since I started journaling in 2008, I have only gone through two books. I write down significant events, like a powerful healing session or when I’ve broken through a personal barrier. Before bed, I jot down how I was feeling before the session (or what prompted me to go), what was brought up in the session (so I can have some context of what needed to be cleared), and how I’m doing now. Every now and again I browse through it, just to remind myself how far I have come.

This is important: I’m not suggesting you journal so you can graphically relive or wallow in past hurts that have been cleared. To do so would actually reverse your healing.

Jane took my suggestion to journal to heart (again, why I love her) and emailed me later that day to get some missing details on her session that we did that day. Yes, she was writing it all down! She was deepening her understanding of her session, and feeling good about the clearing work she did.

As we embrace the New Year, may I suggest that you fit journaling into your busy day, to make an effort to track your most valuable life lessons? You are worth the effort.

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Posted in Belief System

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