How JournalSpeak Helped Me Feel Freer
Updated: Nov 12
This year has been hard. For me, not only has the pandemic turned my world upside down like almost everyone in the world has experienced, but I also had a baby under one, and my dad has been sick for most of this year. It’s been a lot to process, so most of this year I just haven’t, in fact, processed it at all. I’ve looked to distractions like a nightly glass of wine or putting all of my energy into my kids or my work. While I have no judgment for you if you love your wine (I mean, are we even friends if you don’t??), I’ve recently realized that those things aren’t working for me anymore. I was irritable with my kids and resentful of daily tasks that needed to be completed. I was continuing to use coping mechanisms that were ingrained in me as a kid, like repressing my emotions. And these emotions had started showing up as physical symptoms in my body, like not being able to take a deep breath, having pain in my shoulders, or having a painfully sore jaw from clenching my teeth at night. To be honest, I don’t think I even knew that repressed emotions were causing physical symptoms, until we talked with Nicole Sachs in our episode on JournalSpeak. I committed to doing this daily journaling practice because I wanted to be able to talk about it for the podcast. I didn’t think I had physical symptoms that had been created from repressed emotions, as Nicole explained to us in the episode. But I committed to 30 days of JournalSpeak nevertheless, for the sake of the podcast.
What is JournalSpeak, Anyways?
JournalSpeak is a daily journaling practice that helps bring unconscious, repressed emotions into the conscious mind. Nicole Sachs, LCSW, developed the technique after suffering from a spinal condition that, by western medicines accounts, would force her to have pain for the rest of her life. Learning from Dr. John Sarno that emotions can cause physical symptoms in the body, she sought to tackle her own physical pain and then to help others do the same.
How Does JournalSpeak Work?
The simple process for JournalSpeak is four-fold:
Make three lists titled “Childhood,” “Daily Life,” and “Personality” and brainstorm things on each list that come to mind or that caused you some sort of suffering.
Set 20 minutes on your phone, pick a topic from any one of your three lists, and begin writing or typing. No B.S. allowed here! In order for this to work, you have to speak your truth.
Once the 20 minutes are up, throw away or delete the journal entry!
Repeat this process for 20 minutes in the morning, at night, or both, depending on what your schedule allows.
My Experience with JournalSpeak
Since first trying JournalSpeak, I wrote down everything that I was thinking or feeling for 20 minutes every morning. That first week, I HATED it. I didn’t want to take my mind to a negative place. Twenty minutes felt like an eternity. When my timer went off, I stopped mid-sentence and promptly deleted that note on my phone. Vowing to never remember anything that I wrote about ever again. But then, somewhere between the second or third week, something changed. I started to write about my dad. I started to remember all of the silly quirks he has – like watching late night infomercials and then buying the weirdest impulse purchases to give to us as birthday presents. He just knew I needed that Magic Jack phone service when I was two hours away at college! And then suddenly, I wrote something so very and completely true: I don’t want my dad to die. There, I said it. Physical symptoms of my pain started streaming down my face, otherwise known as tears. I cried and wrote, cried and wrote. And afterwards, I felt just a little bit better. It doesn’t change the fact that my dad is sick, but I wrote down something that I was trying so hard to avoid, but couldn’t. And in not avoiding it, I felt freer.