I have written before of the merits of journalling, and different types of journals, including written and art journals. Today I want to write about a specific type of journalling, one that can be especially helpful for increasing self esteem. Living with chronic pain and/or illness can be very difficult, and self esteem can easily get eroded. It is too easy to dwell on the negative, on what you have lost (or will never gain), on what you can no longer do or no longer expect from life. The positives are there, but at times may be hard to find. A 'treasure journal' is where you can collect your positives, or treasures, together in one place. Build your treasure journal, and your self esteem will build, as you realize just how much you still have going for you.
I first got this idea from the book Pain Relief Without Drugs, by Jan Sadler. I liked her ideas, and gave it some tweaks. A treasure journal has a variety of headings for separate sections, for different positive aspects of your life. Here are the headings I used: COPING STRATEGIES THAT HELP ME; MY ACHIEVEMENTS AND SUCCESSES; POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS; WHAT I AM GRATEFUL FOR; WHAT I LIKE ABOUT ME, with sub headings MY QUALITIES and HOW I USE MY QUALITIES; and GOLDEN NUGGETS paired with HOW I FELT.
A great way to set up your treasure journal is to use a loose-leaf notebook. Put the title TREASURE JOURNAL on the cover or first page, then put each of the other titles on the top of a separate page. The beauty of using a loose-leaf notebook is the freedom to add pages to the sections, as many as you need, depending on how much you put in each section. The last four headings are paired together, with the first forming a left hand column and the second forming a right hand column. For example, under MY QUALITIES on the left side of the page I might put 'I am artistic'. Under HOW I USE MY QUALITIES on the right side of the page I could put 'I like to draw', 'I am proficient in a variety of media', and so on. On the left side of another page,GOLDEN NUGGETS is where you can list anything good that comes your way, such as 'I saw a double rainbow today', or 'Amy complimented me on my hair today'. HOW I FELT in that situation, goes on the right side of the page, which would be 'awed and inspired', and 'pleased and happy', respectfully.
I call mine a 'treasure journal', but you can call yours whatever you like. You can copy my headings, or edit them any way you wish to make it your own. Each time you write in your journal, pick a section to focus on. You can pick randomly, by your mood that day, do the sections in a specific order, focus on a different section each week (though I suggest using the golden nuggets section every day, identifying at least three golden nuggets a day). You can revisit each section as many times as you wish, reading your entries and rereading them, adding to them at any time. Some of the sections encourage you to think over your past, as well as your present, such as identifying your achievements and successes. All of the sections require you to pay attention and notice the positives, the good things about you and your life.
If you are having trouble finding positives, ask other people in your life to help you. Hopefully, once they have suggested some, you will think of others. Enjoy your treasure journal, and always treasure yourself.