Thursday, July 17, 2014

Journal writing when we're sad?

I mentioned on Tuesday that I'd been reading up on goal setting theory. At one point, I was working my way through a chapter on goal pursuit when I came across a paragraph containing the following two sentences:

“Sad mood has been found to facilitate problem solving and signals a need for changing the status quo. ... These studies imply that sad mood supports the generation of self-regulation strategies that lead to wise commitment to potential goals.”*

I didn't know that. In my notes, after the above quote, I wrote, "Huh! Who'd have thought?"

Just then a diary excerpt popped to mind. It was one that I had noted, but had decided not to use because it seemed a bit depressing for a light-hearted blog post. It was this one:

“My diary again. It’s sad to be going back to old habits I gave up since I got married. I used to write when I felt depressed – now I suppose it’s for the same reason.” (Sofia Tolstoy, Russian diarist and wife of novelist Leo Tolstoy, October 8, 1862, age 18)**

Possibly it's just me, and this may already be quite obvious, but learning something new about problem solving while sad and remembering the diary excerpt made something click for me.

Do you ever have the impulse to journal when you're upset or down? I certainly do. Perhaps, deep down (or right there on the surface), that impulse to journal represents more than the simple desire to vent or despair, but also the desire to solve a problem that we know needs solving. Perhaps these are the moments when one's journal becomes more than a record of events. Perhaps these are the moments when journaling offers a unique opportunity to think on paper, to put challenges into perspective, to clarify our aims, to determine the best manner in which to move in the direction of our goals. Perhaps these are the moments when we are reminded that journaling can be a powerful tool for transformative change.

It's definitely something I'll be thinking about in the journal entries to come. 


* From New Developments in Goal Setting and Task Performance, edited by Edwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham, p. 527-8

** From The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy, English language translation and Introduction by Cathy Porter

7 comments:

  1. I love putting my jumbled and confused thoughts on paper. Sometimes it expands into a solution, other times it just frees my mind for positive things.

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    1. Hi Leah! Like Leah K., I love how you put this -- freeing your mind for positive things. Such a great perspective! Thank you so much for stopping by. :)

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  2. I hadn't considered the sad entry was a way to make room for positive thoughts. I like that.

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    1. Hi Leah! I like that, too. I know I'll remember it the next time I'm writing a sad entry. Thank you so much for stopping by. :)

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  3. Hi! I popped over from Pinterest. I'm going to chime in here & say that when you write when you're sad, upset, etc. it gives VOICE to that feeling. Once you do that, it settles down & creates space for a solution or something positive to come thru. To me, it's kind of like clearing a clogged pipe. :-) Hali

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    1. Hi Hali! Clearing a clogged pipe -- that's such a great analogy, one I hadn't thought of before. I love it. Thank you for popping over. :)

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  4. I tend to journal a lot when I'm sad or if I find myself in a very challenging position. When life is going fine, I rarely make the time for my journal except for to-do lists. I do miss it. Lately I've been thinking about how my journal becomes my gratitude practice during sad periods but when I'm happy I'm expressing gratitude all the time. I really appreciate you sharing these quotes because I think quite often about how my daughter will likely get my journals and that sometime makes me be very careful about what I write. But the careful attitude also helps me express my negative thoughts in more positive ways. Thanks!

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