Writing in a diary or journal had been Michelle’s hobby since she was a young girl, so when she decided to write her autobiography, she had plenty of content to choose from.
She realized, as she looked at her journal entries as a whole, that she had typically chosen to write on low days when she was feeling sad, anxious, nervous or depressed. These entries recorded the tragic events of her life: the death of loved ones, the diagnosis of disease, the loss of jobs, and the trials of a failing marriage. On the flip side were the other entries that were written on the good days. These entries were full of gratitude for the high points in her life: the birth of her daughter, being hired for a new job, an opportunity to travel, and the accomplishment of a personal goal.
As Michelle reflected more purposefully on what the statements of emotion were telling her, she noted some interesting patterns. She recognized that she had certain ways of dealing with negative emotions; some of those ways were fairly positive, some of them were not. She noticed that as the years progressed, she was handling negative situations in a more positive way and that she had grown personally and professionally more than she had realized. This realization was very encouraging to Michelle. There were days when that personal growth seemed ‘lost’ as she found herself back in the same old rut of negativity. Analyzing how she handled this in the past gave her some specific strategies for dealing with present life emotions. This was valuable life learning that she may have missed had she not taken the time to reflect on the highs and lows of her life so far.