4 years ago, I learned the secret to time travel.
While I’m still working on a way to see into the future so I can become a professional lottery winner, I now have at my disposal 24/7 access into the past.
I can jump back and enjoy notable successes like starting my first business, winning my first windsurfing competition, or getting freaky with a chick in the tall hedges of a hotel and “almost” getting caught by police who got a good laugh out of the dirt on her knees.
Or if I’m feeling pensive, I can see my failures in equal measure, including several breakups, lost friendships and a soul-rending quest to find my purpose where I repeatedly hit rock bottom.
Sandwiched in between are details of ordinary happenings that seemed inconsequential at the time, but years later have great meaning.
Like a split-second decision to take a vacation in the dead of winter, that led to me finding a new home.
Of course, I’m not talking about a literal time traveling machine. If I had that…well.
I’d be heading back in time right now to undo some bad game that cost me a threesome with two very eager best friends.
Side note: if two women eagerly suggest they have wine at home, you fucking follow them, and you drink that wine.
No, what I’m talking about is my journal, which I’ve kept for the last 5 years.
It’s one of the best things I’ve done, and my only regret to this day is that I haven’t written more.
But I digress.
And recent research into this area agrees with me. A 2002 study reported “significant” benefits to physical health and psychosocial adjustment, while a 2017 study found that journaling after a divorce can significantly reduce your heart rate.
It allows you to collect your thoughts, express your feelings completely, and reflect on your state of mind, which is absolutely transformative once you use it right.
But even then, that’s selling the power of journaling short.
Journaling Benefits Your Recovery Now And In The Future
“I find myself looking forward to this nightly unburdening within this place of refuge. In reflection, the events of today were less than favorable, but I suspect that much like bricks in a foundation require other bricks in order to stand, I too will need these experiences as a base moving forward”Exceprt From my journal, April, 2016
Journaling as an exercise in thought and reflection has been used by men for thousands of years. From Marcus Aurelius and his famous τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν or “things to one’s self” which is immortalized in Meditations, to your future journal yet unwritten, a great man keeps a great journal.
And you’re a great man, are you not?
But great men experience stress and pain like everyone else, and breakups are no exception.
We already know breakups hurt men more, and men have fewer outlets than women to express their feelings, which is why it takes us longer to heal.
That’s where your journal comes in because you absolutely must express your feelings to recover.
But you need to do it the right way.
Right now, society at large is all about trying to convince us that it’s okay to talk about our feelings.
Of course, this sentiment is being pushed by women who in their hubris assume that men are like women.
Your feelings are a tool, to be contained and harnessed into creating something concrete, not wasted on the ears of men, or god forbid, women.
When you spend time talking about your feelings, as opposed to writing them, you’re focused on projection and not reflection.
In other words, you’re focused on collecting your thoughts and presenting them in a way someone else will understand as opposed to letting your raw and unadulterated truth flow out.
Moreover, anything you say will be forgotten by you, and whomever you’re speaking to. In the end, all it will amount to is wasted time.
You’re creating nothing, and the essence of man exists to create something tangible.
It’s a well-known fact that when you’re creating something, you’re connecting with your higher purpose as a man.
Whether that’s building your strength in the gym, crushing a huge project, or otherwise doing something to advance your condition, it doesn’t matter.
It’s the act of creation, that job well-done feeling, that makes us feel good.
After a bad breakup, you have a ton of negative emotions swimming around your head and taking up space rent-free. Everything from anger over the rejection, to loneliness without your girlfriend is up there, and it’s up to you to get it out.
When you write in your journal, you take your abstract feelings both good and bad and then make them concrete. Once they’re concrete, you can analyze what caused them, and then take the necessary steps to let go of the bad, while embracing the good.
This is more powerful than you might give it credit for. We all have negative self-talk continuously holding us back. Getting rid of it is one of the fastest paths to self-confidence and fulfillment.
We’ll talk more about how to do this with journaling in a second, so hold tight.
Now fast forward after a year of journaling, and you’ve got a complete record of what you’ve done, how it made you feel, and the lessons you’ve learned along the way.
You now have a window into the past, so you can avoid making past mistakes in the present, which has been the undoing of those who fall prey to the cliche that “history must repeat itself”.
History only repeats itself if you let it. Such is the long term power of the journal, where you can refer to concrete examples of mistakes that were made in order to avoid making them again.
Personally, I also find it incredibly rewarding to meditate on old journal entries and see how far I’ve come. It really adds a sense of tangible progress to many intangible bits of life, including emotional maturity and sound decision making.
Journaling To Get Over a Breakup The Right Way
One of my favorite insights from regular journaling comes down to two words: how and why.
In your life, you’ll have to answer these two questions for nearly everything to get a complete understanding of what happened. Your breakup and the aftermath is no different.
The how is the sequence of events, which is easy enough to discern without journaling.
The why on the other hand requires a thoughtful analysis of the how which is often incomplete if you leave it up to memory alone, which is why it’s extremely important to keep an honest recounting of what happened.
You have to answer the how and the why, which is easier said than done, because both are an evolving understanding that develops over time.
So how do you get there?
Make it a habit.
Start by making it a habit. Block off 30 minutes in the evening where your phone is off, and you’re free from all distractions. I find that right before bed is the best time for me.
Start your journal entry with the events of your day, in plain language. Remember, you’re writing this for yourself, so don’t get hung up on how it sounds.
When you’re writing, tell the truth no matter how uncomfortable it is. Your journal has absolutely no value if you’re lying to yourself while writing it.
On the same note, try to recount events as faithfully as possible based on what actually happened, not what you think happened. Speculation is all well and good, but you’ll want to be able to distinguish what actually happened when you work your way back through old entries.
Celebrate little wins.
Your post-breakup recovery is a long slog no matter how you handle it. When things suck, they suck, and there’s nothing you can do to control that.
What you can do is establish a pattern of ignoring the shitty things in your life instead of letting all the bad get you down.
I recommend that each journal entry should include some kind of win, no matter how hard you have to look for it. “Winning” is often as much a matter of mindset as it is practice.
By writing about your little wins frequently, you’re priming your subconscious mind to seek out more small victories. Many small victories over time are the key to lasting success, and more importantly, recovering from a breakup.
Look for answers to your how & why questions.
After, take a deep breath and write about how you felt during the day.
If you can, try to tie specific events to your feelings. This helps tremendously with the how & why questions you’ll be trying to answer.
For example, I had a habit of dreaming about a particular ex-girlfriend on what seemed to be random days, which made me feel unhappy. That was my how.
How am I feeling shitty?
Because my dreams detailed my fears of losing her to someone else.
It was the last thing I needed while I was working through no-contact.
At first, I only knew my how, until after I had read a few weeks’ worth of journal entries.
I happened to be studying art history each day before I’d have the bad dreams. It just so happened that art history was her major, which I wasn’t thinking of.
Suddenly I had my why.
Why am I feeling shitty?
Because I’m studying the same subject as my ex-girlfriend and it’s causing me to think of her without meaning to, which is leading to painful dreams.
After making the connection, I re-affirmed to myself why I was studying it in the first place, and the dreams went away.
How I did that, we’ll get to in just a minute.
Be aware of themes and patterns.
The true strength of your journal lays in recognizing themes and patterns in your life.
Whether it’s a recurring limiting belief, an unresolved want that keeps cropping up, or a persistent reaction to a set of events, it’s up to you to identify these patterns and take action on them.
In my experience, you’ll be much more aware of these patterns post-breakup, which is why it’s a great chance for you to take action to address these.
The best way to stay aware is to re-read your weekly entries on Sunday and do a weekly recap where you explore the “big picture” events of the week.
For instance, what progress have you made towards your goals? How are you feeling about your breakup? What has helped? What has hurt? What made you feel good? Bad?
Through exploring these questions, you’ll quickly find themes buried just beneath the veil of your everyday hustle and bustle.
For me, this led to post-breakup discoveries like:
- I ultimately prioritize freedom above almost everything else
- Most women are a waste of time – and I need a process in place to sort them out.
- When overwhelmed, I do better if left alone to figure out a solution as opposed to “talking it out”
- I work best in short, furious spurts broken up with longer breaks.
- I prefer having several less serious women in my life as opposed to just one girlfriend.
- I attract women who latch on to others for emotional stability.
- Sleeping with a lot of women “feels good” in the short term, but has a negative impact in the long term.
Record your experiences with women
You want to supercharge your dating skills once you decide to get back out there?
Keeping a “game journal” will allow you to analyze what went wrong versus what went right. It’s a big topic, one that’s deserving of its own article so I’ll keep it short here.
Focus on how she reacts to what you do, because in doing that you’ll quickly realize what works and doesn’t work with women.
What you discover will ultimately be up to you. Don’t expect your discoveries to be the same as mine. That’s the true beauty of the entire thing.
Your discoveries are going to be as unique as you.
What Can Journaling Do For You After A Breakup?
1: Help you CRUSH limiting beliefs
I mentioned earlier that journaling is one of the best ways to defeat limiting beliefs, especially after a breakup, but I never explained why it works.
Limiting beliefs only exist because you believe they do, and with a properly structured journal, you’ll be able to identify them, figure out why you have them, and begin the process of undoing them.
I talk a lot more about this in my book, which I’ll be publishing on Jan 1, but here’s the gist of it.
Journaling helps you identify what you really want, as well as the limiting beliefs holding you back from getting it. Once you’ve done this, journaling also gives you a safe space to question and overcome your limiting beliefs, and to reflect privately on your successes so that you may duplicate them later.
2: Reaffirm why you do what you do.
One of the most gratifying feelings as a man is seeing your hard work pay off as you finally achieve something you’ve been striving for.
Whether that’s seducing a new woman, demolishing a work project, or finally getting over your breakup, they all feel good.
But what gets lost along the way is the routine work it took to get to that point.
When I’m feeling less than motivated, all it takes is looking through my journal to remind me that it’s the little actions, day in and day out that really matter the most.
Journaling is one of those things that helps you keep your why & your how at the top of your awareness, which leads to a better performance from you in almost every area.
For example, if you’re feeling like you need to reach out to your ex while on no-contact, all it takes is a quick trip into your journal to remember how bad she made you hurt. Sometimes that’s all you need to shock you back to reality.
3: Stop you from making bad decisions a second time.
There was a stage I went through where I had an unhealthy obsession with porn, where I struggled with using nofap consistently. Because I was addicted, my scumbag brain desperately wanted to jerk off.
And predictably, I’d do it.
And then I’d feel like shit afterward. It was a nasty cycle. However, the more I wrote about it, the more I was reminded of that feeling.
Eventually, this gave me the strength to quit.
I had the same experience with no-contact. I’d break no-contact and feel terrible afterward. With my journal, I was quickly able to realize how addicted I was and go cold turkey. It was really that powerful.