Tracy Winchell

Use these two journaling stacks to reduce anxiety, procrastination, and dread

published6 months ago
2 min read

Hello Reader,


If you have been following for the past 3 weeks, you've learned:

  1. The consequences of allowing our monkey minds to override our rational brains
  2. Questions you can ask yourself to identify when your monkey mind is causing you to react
  3. How our monkey minds influence our self-talk + a set of questions to root out lies and exaggerations our inner voices are telling us

Two deceptively simple journaling prompts for engaging our rational brains

These sets of questions will help you:

  • Reduce anxiety
  • Curb procrastination
  • Balance something you're dreading with something you're eagerly anticipating

Looking Forward to Today

  • What am I looking forward to today?
  • What am I dreading today?

These two questions expose stinking thinking, even when you think you are ready to jump into the day.

Some days, I know what I’m dreading as soon as I wake up in the morning.

In those cases, my response to the "dread" question comes first.

"Looking forward" then is simple. I write that I'm looking forward to making progress, finishing, or or facing the thing I dread.

The dread becomes manageable because I'm able to look past the discomfort and toward relieving the stress of the thing hanging over my head.


What am I looking forward to today?

I'm looking forward to getting an unpleasant conversation over with.

What am I dreading today?

I'm totally dreading a meeting on my calendar this morning.

What do I control/not control today?

I work the 12 steps each day to help me manage an addiction to control. We don't think about the damaging effects of these kinds of flaws or behaviors.

Through the years, I've made myself miserable trying to control stuff I should not or cannot control.

For me, control fuels two more self-destruction addictions -- anger and resentment.

Control + anger + resentment = Joy Killer

When I notice I'm reacting with anger and resentment instead of responding or keeping my mouth shut, I pop this pair of questions into my morning stack of prompts.

  • What do I not control today?
  • What do I control today?

Know what's weird about this exercise?

99% of the time, the second question reveals a much longer list than the first question.


What do I not control today?

  • I do not control my supervisor's decision to move Stinky to the night shift.
  • I do not control Stinky's reaction when I tell him the news later today.

What do I control today?

  • I control how I will respond to Stinky.
  • I get to choose to NOT react angrily to Stinky's outburst at the news.
  • I control whether or not to let this conversation ruin my day before or after the meeting with Stinky.
  • I control whether or not I will do something to manage my stress levels before and/or after the meeting with Stinky.

If you're struggling to manage monkey mind thoughts that lead you to frustrations, stress, and procrastination, choose one and try out one set for a week or so.

Reply to this email and tell me if one or both of these prompts are working for you -- or not.

See you then!


Next week we wrap up our series on taming our monkey minds with a silly technique I stumbled onto several years ago. Turns out mental health pros have a name for this reframing technique.