Emotional Outlets: Journaling, Art, Music, Etc.


Painting supplies

Middle of the night anxiety

I woke up in a dead panic, my heart racing. What am I doing with my life? It was 2 AM. The question hit like a punch in the stomach, almost literally as I felt sick and my breath was tight. For some unknown reason, my age has been giving me anxiety lately. I feel too old to be in my current position. I quit my job to ‘start a business’ yet I’ve made almost no money in the four months I’ve been unemployed. Others are buying homes, getting married, and starting careers. I’m spending all my time making unviewed content of dubious quality. I’m falling behind – whatever that means.

You might think this site is all about being happy at every possible moment; it isn’t. It’s about searching for tools and mindset shifts which increase our happiness one piece at a time. I’m not perfect, I was having a full on panic attack and spiraling negative thoughts for at least an hour before I snapped out of it.

So, now what?

After rolling around for what felt like an eternity of mental anguish, I finally got up and wrote in my journal. It was the only solution I could think of. Words poured out. Before long, I had run out of steam. On paper, my fears were much more manageable, and much of the emotion simply disappeared. Many concerns were non-actionable – nothing I could do about them, worrying wouldn’t help. For the rest, I brainstormed solutions.

Emotional Outlets Can Stop Negative Loops

Luckily, I remembered how useful emotional outlets can be. Simply getting negative thoughts out of your head and into another format can be hugely beneficial. Once in another format they become more objective. Then, you can combat them with questions and your core beliefs. For many this dispels negative thought loops. Often, you won’t even have to combat the thoughts just getting them out removes their power.

Your emotional outlet doesn’t have to be on paper, you can also create art like a painting or record music. All of these work well, depending on your preferences. Another option is venting to another person. If you choose someone, make the person is ready to hear it and will support you. Otherwise, you could potentially damage the relationship and not receive critical support in a vulnerable time. The last thing you want is to feel more negative afterward.

See How You Feel Afterward

On that note, I definitely don’t recommend this method to everyone. For some, it could amplify your negative thinking, giving it a tangible form for you to reflect on and echo. Give it a shot, but pay special attention to what happens next. For some people, like me, it can be a cathartic experience. For others, giving their negative thoughts an external platform only empowers them further. If that’s the case, you’ll need to find another tool to manage negative thoughts in your life.

In closing, the purpose of this post is two-fold. First, we all experience doubts – we all get stuck in painful or negative places. The key is not to avoid them altogether, as it’s impossible, but to gather the tools we need to effectively navigate away from and shorten negative experiences. Second, I wanted to provide another powerful tool for combating negative thoughts. The next time you find yourself in a negative thought loop, try a venting strategy and see where you end up. It could help improve your experience quickly and drastically.


Exercise:

  1. Next time you find yourself with negative thoughts, try journaling, telling a friend, or creating art to vent out the thoughts.

  2. Afterward, reflect and see if this exercise helped dissipate negative feelings or if it actually amplified them.


A look inside my mind.

Here’s what I wrote that night. This is a deep dive into the negative thoughts my mind is capable of conjuring. These may seem excessive to some, however, journaling this is precisely what I needed to overcome the negativity. Don’t focus on the content, instead notice how it forces me to clarify my thoughts. I clarify what’s bothering me and, ultimately, return to an actionable place. Reading through, it may be easy to believe this fueled my negativity. I disagree, it was necessary venting. I hold almost none of those beliefs at my core. Getting them on paper let me battle them one by one. 

My Journal Entry

A disturbing amount of anxiety clouds my brain tonight. Fear runs rampant. I’m afraid of my age, which has been weighing on my consciousness ever more heavily each day.

I fear in my attempt to become more accomplished I’ve actually done less. In an attempt to become my own boss I’ve actually slipped into an untenable position. In an attempt to become more of a man, I’ve actually regressed to that of a child.

What challenges do I take on? What value do I provide? Am I nothing more than a child playing at adding value to the world? How fucking pathetic.

A few straggling voices attempt to remind me I’m still young. Still young? At my age men have revolutionized the world. At my age men have died and been spoken of for decades. I’m under no illusions – if I were to disappear tonight the world would wake up with nothing more than the slightest of hiccups.

I don’t desire to be known because I think fame of itself is worth having. Money isn’t something I want because I need money. I want to be known and money because I feel it is an adequate measure of my potential, yet as I pretend to toil on grand projects, life slips through my fingers.

Part 2

My potential is a laughable fallacy, self-projected to create a grandiose sense of self. If this is my potential, why not prove it? If this is my potential why waste time on the mindless musings of children? Does my potential not factor in the wandering listlessness which prevents me from satisfactorily completing a project?

The only option is to become better, yet I fear as times in the past, I’ll simply promise myself these false hopes – give a half-assed effort and find myself in the same position at some point in the future. Shameful really. What value is a man who can’t even keep a goddamn promise to himself and who knows nothing of who he hopes to be or bring into the world?

A weak disposition. Too weak to suffer through the commonplace task of working to create good in the world. A selfish creature of poor habits trying to tell others how they might yet conquer the world. A laughable farce.

Give in to true passion or endlessly be tormented by the demons of your possibilities. Tap into this work ethic or perish in falsehood. These are the only choices which remain and can soothe a rocky temperament. You’re not living now, live. Create what you want and stop creating excuses or comfort.

It was a good emotional outlet.

This is straight out of my journal, unedited. Reviewing it gives me greater insight into my mind at that time. It’s also motivating, actually. It’s harsh, but I wrote this for myself. Many comparisons and comments are unfair – but I know they’re unrealistic, that’s what helps. I can now combat these thoughts and look for solutions. Don’t worry, it’s not nearly as bad as it might seem on the surface!

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