Negative thoughts are like parasites. They need a host to survive and cause damage. And like parasites, if you remove them from their host, they wither and die.
One of the most valuable consequences of journaling is the death of these parasites.
I can feel angry at someone. Or something. I can see someone’s success and feel jealousy wash over me. I can look around me and think about how tired I am of it all. How much there is that I want to be different and better. I can feel regret for the choices I’ve made and the paths I’ve taken. These feelings are fleeting. They don’t last for a great amount of time. But they still feel real. They’re intense and powerful and uncomfortable.
But if I make the effort to excise them from my mind into an external source they die. They don’t, they can’t survive on their own. Outside of the mind, they suffocate. They have no sustenance.
The pages of my notebooks have ideas. They have meditations. Observations and passages about gratitude, about the wealth and opportunity all around me. But they also have pages filled with bitter worry. With anxiety. Streams of thought which lament and moan and complain and rage.
But that’s where those negative emotions stay. Once they’re out of my head and onto the page, they can’t escape. They remain imprisoned.
It’s like shovelling snow while it’s still snowing. If I can move the snow off the driveway faster than it comes down, I end up with a clear driveway. If I capture these feelings with my pen faster than they sprout in my mind, I feel more content and energetic.
But the difference is that shovelling the snow doesn’t stop it falling from the sky. Capturing the parasites on the page stops them from entering my mind again. Why? Because once you record these thoughts, you’re forced to examine them in greater detail. To see them. And what you find is that they’re weak. You’ll begin to understand that they’re groundless. They arise from fear and doubt and ignorance. Once you confront them, they reveal themselves as weak. As inflated shadows that are smaller than they seemed.
Like all things that thrive in darkness, they fear the light of investigation and scrutiny.
A stranger stumbling across my notebooks might get the wrong impression. He might think I’m a bitter, depressed, angry man. In a way, he’d be right. I have those tendencies. But what he wouldn’t know is that after those thoughts, those parasites, enter the pages of my journal, they die.