Use Introspective Writing for Self-Awareness

What are your emotions telling you?


Work, family and other stresses can be overwhelming, and as a leader, it’s imperative to deal with your emotions in a healthy manner. Robbi Crawford, professional mentor, sociologist, writer and speaker, advocates for introspective writing as a way to cope with and understand your emotions.

“I believe emotions are information,” Robbi says. “Not to repress them, not to kick them to the side or dismiss them as not important, but I believe they're important.”

Watch this video and think about how you can use introspective writing to learn from your emotions.

I'm a very big advocate of introspective writing. And I've published, self-published, my own journal that focuses on that, introspective writing, and introduce folks to five different approaches to help them to be able to kind of go inside and figure out kind of, what's going on, what's happening, and how can I manage this? If we're not aware of the emotions that are coming up for us and that information, because I believe emotions are information. Not to repress them, not to kick them to the side or dismiss them as not important, but I believe they're important. So, when you're angry, why are you angry? There's a reason that you're angry. So, understanding that. And sometimes folks don't know how to process that. So, write about it, right?

One of the things I encourage is stream of consciousness writing. If you're angry, just write on a piece of paper. Whatever comes up, just write it out. I'm angry, if you want to curse, if you want to scream, whatever, you write it out on that sheet of paper. You get stuck, "I don't know what to write right now, but I'm still mad. I'm mad because of this, that and the other." It's like a mental dump. You're getting it out of here and on to paper. And sometimes when students can go back, or anyone for that matter can go back, and I say, "Don't read it right away." Let it be 24 hours at least. Twenty-four to 48 hours. If you want to go back read it, there's a lot of information to decode in there to really help you to understand your emotions and what's going on and why that made you angry in this particular case since we're talking about anger. So, I truly believe that writing in that way.

And then there are other ways of journaling as well that I talk about in my journal, but I think stream of consciousness writing is a very powerful one that I often recommend that students do. Anything that encourages them to kind of get out of their head and learn to be more aware of their feelings and emotions. One thing I'll also encourage them to do is to do an exercise where they'd become more aware of their body, because I believe that our bodies also give us tons of information if we listen. A lot of times we don't listen to our bodies, and that's how we get into trouble. So, when something is happening, if there's a gut reaction, why is that happening there? There's a reason there. Or maybe you can feel yourself getting tense in your shoulders, or maybe you can feel yourself gritting your teeth.

A lot of times folks aren't aware of those kind of things that are happening in their physical bodies. So, sometimes I'll just have them, "Okay, stop. I want you to close your eyes and I want you to tense your body up as much as you can. Now, I want you to relax. Take three deep breaths and then tell me about just those few seconds of that experience. What did you feel?" And then they'll start talking a little bit about that and then it'll lead to more in the conversation.

So, that's another tool. Okay, keep using that tool when you feel yourself feeling overwhelmed. When you're in school or you're trying to figure something out, trying to make a decision, just stop and listen to your body. Your body will tell you what you need to do to take care of it. So, that's another thing that I tend to use to help them as well.
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Robbi Crawford

Robbi Crawford, Professional Mentor, Sociologist, Speaker and Author, is a former college professor and fierce advocate of today's college student. She's the founder of BrijBrand, an inward-bound hub of services and products designed ...

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