Reduced stress, improved memory function, strengthened emotional response...
If I told you that you could have all of that (and more!) by implementing one small
habit, would you go for it? Or would you tell me I'm crazy?
Well, there's psychological research that proves that you can have less stress,
better memory, and more level emotions by simply picking up a pen and writing. That's right: journaling. I know. Once upon a time, I didn't believe in that BS either... enter my friend Amy Berry...
Amy is a wife, a mom, an adult dance fitness instructor, a friend, and a woman who loves to inspire and empower women -- so much so she created the Worthy Heart Blog and The Good Life journal. After enduring quite a bit of trauma, Amy figured out a four-step process to living The Good Life. The Good Life focus is on God, Ourselves, Others, and Divine Happenings. Amy firmly believes that by incorporating these four points in our lives daily, we too can have The Good Life while walking out our unique purpose boldly and confidently.
Amy is here today to talk about her habit of journaling has helped her become a better leader, wife, mother & just an all-around better person.
You talk a lot about the habit of journaling, I would love to hear more about that and how that can help us wake up when we feel like we’re sleepwalking through life.
“Really it wasn't the journaling and, trying not to cry here, in 2016 my mother died. She was my best friend. I have depression naturally, and I went even deeper and darker into the depression. This lead me to start writing and I noticed that some healing was happening with this writing, so I decided to share it, yet I was still feeling empty. I felt like I had it all, I have these three beautiful amazing boys who are so different, a husband who flies airplanes, so many friends, and yet I was dying inside. I was like what the hell is missing... and what happened was my husband got sick and I kept thinking if I keep sleepwalking through life like this, who's going to lead this family? They're depending on me. I knew I had to do something about this so I chucked all those journals and thought “Imma figure this shit out myself” and then that's kind of when it started. It didn’t start out as a journal, it was gettin' in with god. Once I develop that relationship with God, I started to dig in and details like holy hell that dude created me and I am wonderful. I had to start really doing those “I am” statements and it wasn't enough to just say each day, “I am wonderful” the next day “I am energetic” because guess what? Halfway through the day you disappoint somebody or
somebody disappoints you and you beat yourself up and here we are again spiraling down, getting drunk at night, waking up the next day ten steps behind. Sleepwalking again because our thoughts got a hold of us. I heard it said one time, “whatever follows I am, follows you” so if you start out your day with “I am worthy” and then you disappoint your child, husband, or a friend, then you say “I’m a shmuck” then guess what follows you around the rest of the day? Bein a shmuck... then you drink the wine and you build yourself back up, but then you wake up the next morning and think god I did it again. It just it this vicious cycle so I thought there's another step to this you gotta go deeper, so every day I write an “I am” statement. I tie that statement back to a bible verse that's affirming and I say “how am going to apply this today” and I just go. Then people started noticing that despite my external circumstances I was staying peaceful, and they started asking me how I was doing it. So I started sharing with them, and then they would share their stories, and it was like another component came out of it. I needed to pray for them. Then miracles started happening. I realized I had a process here and I needed to share it with the world. It's called good. god. ourselves. others. and the divine moments, and that's how it was born."
Walk me a little bit more through your process... it starts with that “I am” statement, right?
“Yes. So I developed this journal for the woman, or the person, who doesn't know god. If you don't believe in God that's fine, this journal still works for you or who has a surface-level idea or who's angry with him. So the first step is a little verse, and it's just a simple verse. There are sixty-six books in the Bible. The journal is sixty-six days long because it takes sixty-six days to form a habit. I think that's a divine thing that it adds up. So I decided there's gonna be a verse for each day from each book in the Bible. So the journal starts out with, you put your name-
“Amy was created in the image of God” and then you say “I am.” and I give you an alphabet of different ‘I am’s. There are days where I can't figure out what the hell I
am, so I give you a cheat sheet to help you figure it out and you write it down. and then I give you a prompt that says how you can apply this today? how are you gonna walk this out today? and you get to go deep into it and then there's a big circle that says circle others in prayer. and that's where you put your prayers for others. There's a little prayer that I pray to the Holy Spirit because that's one aspect that I think people are missing in their walk with God is this gift of the Holy Spirit. When you feel really alone you always have somebody with you at the Holy Spirit. I just ask them every day to be my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my feet, my arms, and my heart... and I can tell you the days that I haven't asked him because I'm a real you know what. Then halfway through the journal (every day is dated), I ask you to go back and look at the past thirty-three dates and see if there were any divine moments where the Holy Spirit/God intervened, or prayer was answered.”
(Prefer to listen along? Tune in now to The Beyond Leadership Podcast)
Having done this now for quite some time, do you have an ‘I am’ statement that you continuously go back to, or are you declaring something different every day?
“I do declare something different every day but the ironic thing is I named my blog Worthy Heart for a number of reasons. I wanted the tagline to be everybody's worthy of love because we found out my son was gay, and I wanted to make sure that the world understood that everybody is worthy of love no matter who they love, no matter what color skin they are, no matter what they look like, they're worthy of love. Through this process I realized that was the biggest thing missing in my heart and mind was I didn't realize how worthy I am. So I do often revert to “I am worthy”. So yeah."
How can someone who isn’t a believer use this method this journaling method separate from God?
“I'm glad that you asked that because there are people who are atheists that say “my religion is not the same as yours Amy, I don't believe in religion” which I don't believe in religion either, I think it's all about relationship, religions a hoax. Anyways, there is a higher power. I think most people, not all, think there's something bigger in the universe. So I would ask, just give that bible verse a chance if you don't want to that's fine scratch that sucker out we go straight to that I am statement and go to that alphabet because you know what? I am statements are not religious, they're not Christian base. they’re what you need. I'm a good mom. I am a good wife. I am a good friend. Then the prompt will apply that, and the part where you circle others in prayer just circle them in your thoughts. It doesn’t have to be prayer, it can be thoughts. and the Holy Spirit prayer, mark it out. you're not going to hurt my feelings, I’m not going to see the dang journal. I say give it a chance because you never know what might happen."
Those positive affirmations are so important because you're absolutely right there's been legitimate psychological research that shows what we put out is what we get back.
“Yeah I mean you don't have to have a god to know that is a true statement. Whatever follows I am, follows you. There's nothing to do with God there. So mark out all the Bible stuff. I think this journal would help anybody who is female who are in leadership positions. Whether you're at work, because you know what you're a woman and you have to prove yourself. Regardless if you're the secretary or the boss, you're a woman that goes against you. right? so you better be confident in who you are. As a wife, we have all these comparisons. We're looking at the next person. We all think the next person has sex more, is sexier, their body looks better, their hair is long and luscious. Whatever. As a mom... their kids are better than mine, who do my kids act like such brats. In this comparison game, you gotta shut it. The only way to shut it is with ‘I am’ and it's got to be a positive ‘I am” and when you are confident in who you are, then you can bring it out into the world.”
How has having this habit (journaling, I am statements, the circling others in prayer) helped create other habits in you, and how has it helped elevate you as a wife, mom, creator, and CEO? how has this habit changed you?
“I think a lot of leaders think of journaling as woo woo but if you don't take the time to do this little step, you don't really get to know who you are and truly believe in you, and know the heart of you to carry out into the world. For instance, my husband is still not working… we are still battling his illness. I don't know that I would have had the compassion that I have now, this has been going since September 2018. The old Amy would have been drunk and have an outburst every night and telling him you just suck it up and move on, the name Amy is loving and compassionate and has learned to surrender and I can't do that. I have a son that went to college at the old Amy what I've been doing everything for him and would have been irritated when he didn't do it my way, but I was able to let go and say okay it's time to fly buddy. When you believe in you, you can believe in others. It's made me more compassionate.. with the damn pandemic. My neighborhood is in shambles going against each other, fighting about opinions on this pandemic and politics. Well, I have been able to learn to be compassionate and listen to somebody who doesn't believe like me and say thank you for that, I never saw that perspective. I want to take some time to think about that. Not only in my compassion, I'm civil. The old Amy would have been very one-sided and thought my way or the highway... and THAT’S what's missing in the world."
If you don't follow Amy on social media, go do it right now because in the span of a day she will take you from crying, to cracking up, to cursing out loud because she has that empathy and compassion. She has that ability to relate to people. I’m so grateful that she was able to come on the show to talk about this habit and journal to literally change people's lives.
Where you can find Amy
Do you journal? What other habits do you hold to up-level yourself? I'd love to hear your thoughts! If you share on social media, tag #beyondleadershippodcast and be sure to tag me (I'm @saramaeski on Instagram).
I'll be back next Thursday with more tangible tips to help you level up your leadership game but if you're looking for a way to connect with like-minded and like-hearted leaders in between episodes, check out our Beyond Leadership Community on Facebook -- we'd love to have you!
Until next time... LET'S GO!
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