August 23, 2020

Reducing Mental Noise By Burning Journal Pages With Hannah Hassler

This week I welcome Hannah Hassler to the show. I met Hannah in a Facebook Group we are both in and she surprised me by saying that she is reducing mental noise by burning her journal pages. So of course I had to know more about that and I invited her to the podcast and Hannah said yes. 

I loved talking with Hannah she is full of wisdom and I even had an epiphany for myself while we were talking. If you'd rather read than listen, scroll down to the trascript)

If you find value in this conversation with Johanna please share the episode with your family and friends because if you find value in it, they will too.

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Hanna Hassler

Once up on a time there was a woman who had created all sorts of projections that weighed her down and overwhelmed her. Every day, she would put on a brave face and work her hardest to be what she thought she was supposed to be, and what she thought everyone else needed her to be.

And one day she found herself having yet another panic attack because she was burnt out, overwhelmed, and exhausted by all the pressure. And because of that, she realized something had to change. She started to learn more about who she really was. She gave up on “knowing” what things were supposed to look like, how she was supposed to act, and what everyone else wanted her to be. She began to bear witness to who she truly was, and what was truly inside of her.

Finally, she began to realize that she was free to be so much more than she had ever realized. She could approach herself with openness, curiosity, and compassion. And she could finally experience the fullness of all that she was and would someday become. That woman is Hannah Hassler, life coach and creative,



Reading instead of Listening (Transcript) 

Conny Graf 0:06
Hi and welcome to the podcast. I'm so happy to have you here.

Hannah Hassler 0:11
Thank you so much, Conny and excited to be here.

Conny Graf 0:14
I'm excited that you were here too because you're presenting present yourself we really choose the topic pages and, but before we get into this for a lot of people probably controversial topic you want to know a little bit. Where do you come from. So how did you get where you are and you said something about when you send me your bio that you were very overwhelmed and you felt like you needed to do everything that the other people wanted so I want to hear a little bit about your journey first.

Hannah Hassler 0:49
Yeah, well my journey for about four years I was teaching, middle school English. And so, you know, if you're familiar with, with education at least here in the US. It's a very intensive job. You know you're, you're coming early or staying late. There's a lot of pressure with test scores with monitoring behavior, you know, not to mention lesson planning and just teaching so I was doing that and I was getting just really burnt out, like, I'm an introverted person and just wasn't kind of getting like the sole care and creative outlets that I needed, and that position so then I transitioned online so I got my start online as a virtual assistant. I was working for a lot of coaches I was in the back end of all of these businesses, and there's so many fun things about that.

And but then also it was like, Oh, I feel like you know that's something that I could do that I would love to do. So then I transitioned again into coaching, but if you, you know, if you've been in the online world. You know how like there's just so much messaging and so many voices right like oh well you need your free ebook and your five steps on all and your 10 email sequences that you know everything that you're supposed to be in your professional photos and how you're showing up in what you're doing. There's just this intense amount of kind of overwhelm of like messaging, about how it should look and how it should be and what you should do. So the long winded answer to your question.

Conny Graf 2:37
Yeah, no, that's that's exactly when we are in situations like this where we feel so overwhelmed that's when we're seeking so there's so how did you. So, I noticed that too so I'm an introvert as well and so you're kind of like you're really overwhelmed and then there's contradictory information like this girl says this, the other door says the other thing and you're like you don't know where to follow the whole thing of FOMO fear of missing out so you're kind of like, oh my god. So what, what was then like what happens, that you change so something must happen because like we were a lot of times we were in this overwhelm phase. So something must have happened something drastic.

Hannah Hassler 3:31
Well, I started getting a lot more intentional about kind of my own mind so practices such as a meditating, like, lots of guided guided visualization. I love walking on trust. So I kind of started incorporating more practices, you know, for a while they're like I hit the ground running. And then it was like okay, you know I'm kind of recreating my teaching conditions, and I'm always busy always working always on always gotta give more before tomorrow. And it's like okay that's why I left teaching. You know I need to create more balance in my life and more room for self care and so I, you know, really got more intentional about creating that in my life and as part of that,

I ended up picking up the book The artists way was by Julia Cameron, and she really recommends doing morning pages which is you know this daily time when you're sitting down and journaling and so I committed to doing that. And that helped me so much with just kind of taking out crazy little whirlwind in my mind, you know, of the voices and the fizziness and this and that, and just kind of connecting more to myself who am I, what matters to me. And then, on a more practical tangible No, seriously like leaving Facebook groups and unsubscribing from emails like, Oh my gosh, you know at some point you have to recognize all these voices are things that you allow into your life and you can, you know, you do have some power to shut down some channels and get make things a little more reasonable for yourself.

So yeah, kind of that combination of of mindful practices in a variety of ways and then also just some practical steps to start like diminishing the noise level. Yeah, but that's where a lot of people have trouble now because like when I help them declutter and let's just talk about digital clutter like email. The phone call comes in, they're kind of like I can unsubscribe. What if he has a really great offer what if she's sending something out really awesome and then I'm missing it so. So you think that because you think the morning pages because you wrote down your thoughts because you empty your brain basically and you've got to know more, what comes out of yourself rather than letting just all this noise and Is that why you think you could let go of this FOMO or this, this thing of oh no I can't unsubscribe because, or do you think, like, was it just too noisy and, and you got to a point where you were overwhelmed or was it really intentional okay no I don't want to hear that person.

Yeah. So for me, when it comes to my email inbox, like a huge step was just being honest about like, oh, like, a lot of these emails, you know, can be easy to start you're getting 50 100 emails a day like because you're subscribed here subscribe there right you know like all of this. And so, Oh, huge majority I wasn't even reading necessarily like I'm seeing who it's from I'm seeing the subject line, and then I'm either, you know, letting it go on a ride or every day you know I'm spending five minutes like deleting emails that I'm not even looking at. So some of it for me was just kind of getting honest about, okay, gotcha, you haven't read an email from that person and along with it here. What is it that you think you're gonna miss out on, like, you don't even look at those now. And then one option, I feel like that can be helpful, you know if you've saved yourself.

Oh yes, but what am i less busy I am going to read that because like, oh, they're so good. I really like creating labels, you know, so if you're using Gmail, and I'm sure any mail service but you can have it sorted so it's like oh oh that emails from. I'm gonna use your name so I don't throw anyone else, but also the emails from Conny Graf right I can put a little label on that and have it go to a folder called Congrats, and it doesn't have to sit in my inbox I don't have to take time deleting it. What if I'm like, Oh, you know what I do want to see subwoofers I can hit that folder and see everything from right there it's in one place. And then I can you know go through and take a look at it if I want to, or if I see a Facebook post or you're talking about, oh man I sent out my great offer for my coaching program I could think, Oh, I got to go to her folder and look I'm sure she'd I'm sure it's there I still get her emails, and so that can be that like in between ground. If you don't want to fully unsubscribe, but you also want to like declutter your inbox and so, so that's what the little thing that I do too,

Conny Graf 8:40
yeah that's that's a good tip I do dad too so I actually went through the exercise once to write down how many newsletter subscription i have and i mean i didn't go and write it all down I just took a tally every day when an email came in okay from that person that I'm subscribed to. And it was 120, or some crazy thing like this, you know, between and then while we have to know I have two businesses so there's business subscriptions then there's private through subscription

So, and yeah so that's what I actually do too I filtered them into a certain folder and then you can go back if you really feel like you need it, but what I noticed with my clients often is they have it filtered somewhere and then I never looked at it and years and years and months of email, and, and, you know, it can be overwhelming even to know that they sit all in this folder and one day you might want to go read them. 

So, yeah, so let's, let's so you unsubscribe from all these and then how did you so because you told me that the men. It helps to reduce the mental noise. By then, burning these journal pages and this is actually this controversy like most people that I know who write a journal or a diary. They work cringe. I help people declutter they can give away journals or throwaway journals at all because oh my god right if, what if I need to read it but I wrote when I was 12, years old or something, or 21, years old, So, talk about commencez.

Hannah Hassler 10:31
So, if I'm awake, a little background on the morning pages so if Julia Cameron has a book called The artists way. And so she has a few things but she encouraged us at the very beginning of, like, this is every day and then it's like a 12 week book so, um, and so what the morning pages, one of the things that she said about them was like that these aren't meant to be something that you're like ruminating on and going back to and re reading.

Because, you know, sometimes, even if that's, if that's your plan or there's a part of your brain of like, I can always go back to the the look at the, you know, it's a little more likely that you'll engage in some self some serene, or you know you you kind of start to become your own personal little you know like Anne Frank like you imagine them being read and then future and, you know, we start to be a little performative, and I mean I know that I have a tendency towards that. Even if it's just slight little things.

It's hard not to get sucked into that, maybe even more so these days with how much everything gets put online and you know so many things that we write we do translate into a blog or a Facebook post or a live right it turns into content. So when when when she was saying like, Don't make these something to go back to. I really love that concept like I just thought yes I'm not going to go back to this I want to be able to sit down with my three pages, right what I'm gonna write, put them in my eye. I literally just got like a loose leaf, like paper so I could stick it in a binder, you know she says if you have a file cabinet or a folder like somewhere where you wouldn't even flip through them necessarily like just put them away. So I would take my three liquids loosely pages. Write them, and then put them in my little you know three ring binder and leave them alone.

So I did this for a couple months, maybe you know the end of February. May. So doing three pages a day like that was like I had a big old like sheet of paper. And in the pages I put everything you know like from personal to business, you know, things that I some, like petty little things that annoyed me like really big issues that were pressing concerns to joys and excitement and little victories like I put all of the things. And then I was looking one day at my binder and it's just huge and there's so many pages in there. And I just had this random pot of like, I couldn't burn all of those. And then you know right away that cringy like oh no like written three pages a day for months like I'm gonna keep saving them up but then, realistically,

it's like when I was looking at how much space it already took up only three months in. It's like this is, you know, it wouldn't take very long to be filling holes, I own cabinet drawers and it's a lot of paper, it's a lot. And I, and then the next thing I thought to myself after I credit cringed back like oh no no like those are my papers. You know I may be famous today this important. Then can I you know my next follow up that was just But didn't you say you were never going to read them again. They're not for ruminating they're not you know you're not compiling research they're not designed for you to go back and read read read them.

They're meant to kind of take the noise of your mind and get it on paper so you can let it go. And I kind of felt like the first half of the process was working really well. You know I was getting a lot of things out of my mind and I had a lot more mental clarity. But then there was kind of this like it hit a wall of like I'm not exactly getting rid of it all the way. And it made me think, actually. I grew up on a farm and out in the middle of nowhere, so you don't have like trash pickup there the way that you do, you know in a city. And so, we was so, you know, we took out the trash. We would bring it down to the basement and it was like a, just kind of a little stockpile area you know that we would keep it and then when I got to do so much. We bring it out and burn it and I know environmentalist how terrible but this was 20 years ago.

Okay. But sometimes, for whatever reason, you know, we would miss taking out the trash it would really pile up was really too much. And it's not pleasant to have a garbage pile in the basement obviously so you want to kind of keep up with that. And like that big pile of papers were starting to feel less like, you know, an indication of how productive I was being with that data, generally, and more like the trash pile in the basement that was really like piling up but I was never quite fully releasing cuz I've just, I was always just to bear in my pile ready here, you know for safety and if the quarter nice thing again. Nothing important. Really.

Conny Graf 16:06
Exactly what people do when, when they start to declutter, They may take it out of their main living space and then they put it in basements, or into the garage or into the attic. That's what we feel like the spaces are for and I know what you mean we're living rural and no for garbage pickup we have the same here we have to bring it. So you say you kind of keep it for a certain while and then you have to let it go. We, we can bring it to the landfill which you said, burning is not environmentally friendly, what do you think the landfill is gonna do, they're gonna burn it so it's not like they have a better system.

Hannah Hassler 16:48
And it's very true yes there's there's multiple levels of problems.

Conny Graf 16:52
Yeah. But, but at least it goes out eventually but what a lot of people do is they just fill up the basement or they fill up the attic or fill up the garage, and that's kind of like what you were doing with your morning pages. So, then you have the realization that they are actually waiting on you because they kind of created this pile of extra garbage. So that's when you. That's when you have the epiphany. That's my one of my favorite words epiphany to Bergen, is that what how it happened.

Hannah Hassler 17:28
Yeah, and it just happened to be very towards the end of the month when it happened. So it was kind of I don't know, like the 28, or 29, where I was like, Oh, you know what we're almost like to the first of the month and you know so there's that kind of sense of newness and. And it happened to fall on the first time in the fall on a weekend so it even felt like, Oh my gosh, like, you know, I'll just, you know, I'll be able to add on Friday into my lane as normal, and then I just want to burn up. I'm gonna burn months and months worth and then on the first I'm just going to start fresh with an empty binder and my empty pages.

So, you know, so I just, you know, finished work on Friday and then just took a little bit of time kind of center myself around myself I sat outside and just kind of did that and I felt so grateful for everything that I have put in those pages. You know the ups and the downs, the highs and the lows, even just my own commitment and showing up and filling those pages, and I let myself just kind of feel all of those feelings and express that gratitude and then I took my took my pile of papers. And I just left them on fire, and I just sat I watched them burn and I felt this like huge. Just wait come up with my shoulders like a weight I didn't even know I was carrying, you know where it was like, wow, like those, those were heavy, there was a lot of big stuff in there, that it's like I hadn't moved out of my mind, but I was still kind of physically carrying in a literal and figurative sense.

And just seeing them, reduced to down to just nothing and letting it go and coming back inside and having an empty binder when I had used to be you know like just getting like fat and overfilled or not, like, I'm gonna need a new binder like you know. It felt so good and so fresh and wonderful it, I love it so now on the first of every month. I always just do my little, you know, gratitude gratefulness meditation, and that I just learned them all up, and then start fresh. On the first and I love it.

Conny Graf 19:55
I love that concept too. So, questions. Did you ever, ever go back and read a page that you wrote.

Hannah Hassler 20:04
So, what I didn't go back and reread what I did do though is, I would write my free pages. And then if there was anything in there that I felt like, Oh, you know, so, especially if I was really focused on my business like so sometimes it would be like, oh, like, that's what I could name this program are oh that's what I would want the four modules to be.

So if there's something really tangible like that but I would feel like okay I actually would want to know that I would either type it into my kind of computer planning nodes or I would move it like I kind of have like a Business Journal where I kind of keep track of my business stuff. I would transfer it but I tried to make it something where it's like, okay, it's only tangible practical things I transfer it right away like I'm not going to go back and like reread you know two weeks wants to try to find what I thought I should like if it's important you already know that transfer over.

So I did kind of use that as my little method for things that I knew that I, I would want to call out. And yeah, so sometimes that did happen.

Conny Graf 21:11
Yeah, I do something similar so I pull out certain things, right after I wrote I know while I'm writing I know okay this needs to come out and. And then I have other lists or journals where that would go in either it's something I'm very grateful for don't want to forget or something that I need to have time to four I feel that I need time to process it more so it needs to come out and get processed, a different way.

Yeah, so. So, I would think when I listen to you then we should not write, even though sure it is not the right word, it would be advantageous to not write these morning pages in beautiful journals because then we have even more resistance of letting it go so your approach of just using loose papers, is actually perfect for that because then you don't have the added issue of oh but it's such a pretty cover on this journal so I can't let it go because of that, because I'm thinking that might be what a lot of people then struggling edition with it because they're using a pretty looking journal for mourning pages.

Hannah Hassler 22:24
Yeah, I would definitely agree with that because I do think, well for two reasons like one, when I had really beautiful journals. Yeah, I do have like an emotional connection to like the physical, you know, tangible journal itself sometimes and so that can make it more difficult, burning it and then also like sometimes I think that when we use a journal, because it's in the book format, we can feel a little bit like we're writing a book, I'll be at a very personal, a very personal edition.

But again, for at least for myself, when I journal in a book type of journal. I can feel mixed up just a little bit more performative with it, you know like, it feels it's just presented differently. And so I definitely think for me doing the morning pages on loose leaf paper makes it much more easy to like pour everything out very unfiltered and then yes at the end of the month actually release them in a way that might be a little harder if I was using like a beautiful journal that I was emotionally bad for I'm thinking

Conny Graf 23:37
that's what I'm thinking so that's a good strategy to actually be able then to let it go fully and I, I do see the benefit in it, so much because if you keep it then it's like you're decluttering but you're never bringing it out like when we declutter we sometimes make a pile for donation and we can pay for garbage and recycling and now if you would just keep these piles in your basement or garage. You're not done with decluttering so it's similar with what you're doing, until you actually have been really burned you're not done with the decluttering of your brain. Yeah. So is that now you said you're now a coach is that now how you help your clients get rid of mental noise or talk a little bit about your business.

Hannah Hassler 24:24
Yeah, yes so I, I have a four week one on one program, you know, or you do the weekly call and I, you know, kind of provide a workbook in the first week actually, we focus on shoulds and kind of sorting through the shoulds that are life and I know you've said that once should. Oh, that's right. Because there's like a burden that comes Lucia.

Yeah. Um, so, and mourning pages is something that I really encourage them with daily practice of a lot of what I do with coaching is helping people build the actual daily practices, you know you can work with the coach for four weeks or four months or four years. But if everything is kind of resting on the foundation of the coach, and then you're done with the coach or the coach is done with you or you know whatever happens, you know, you lose a lot, unless you've actually established daily practices that are your own that really serve you. And so morning pages is like is definitely more in practice, but I really encourage. And as far as the burning i think i think it's wonderful I'm not so one number pushes anything on anyone I don't think that's healthy, either. But I certainly put it out there as an option that I think can be a really good way to fully release things to fully let things go. And if people feel really uncomfortable with the concept of, you know, just like all down and that feels too dramatic, you know, kind of a little way to do some practice stuff is to, you know, even sit down with a single page of paper and say okay, you know, I'm going to journal about this, and then I'm gonna burn this one page when I'm done with it right and just see how that feels. And maybe for you It feels terrible I don't know how it will feel for you, but maybe it will feel really free to, what do you realize you know I can put all of my thoughts about this current situation or this fight or this stressor, or even this joy or beautiful thing on a piece of paper and then I can let that go. They do not have to exist forever I do not have to haul them around for the next 20 years every time I move, or you know get a new apartment or get a new office. It's okay for me to put things on paper and then last, and I think that if you're in the process of building a business. One of the things that's really powerful about that is that sometimes we hesitate to make business decisions because we're afraid of commitment, you know like, Oh, well I don't, I don't know if I want to call myself. The XYZ coach because I might change that. I don't know if I should launch this program because what if I don't want to do this program in six months, you know like, we, we get afraid of doing things that we then have this sensation that like, oh, then we're forever chained to that, you know, and I think one of the things I like about burning my pages, is that it's a reminder that nothing has to be for ever. You know, whether I journaled every day about the best thing in my life or the worst thing about my life or everything in between. All of the thoughts and feelings I had about that no matter how big they were. I didn't just let them go I'm gonna watch them go up and smoke and everything is okay. I still get up at the end and I walk away and I'm still here. I may be changed or different or I may feel, you know have different feeling. But, I'm so right here. And I think that sometimes when we're in the online world and in an online business. We get so fearful about over committing to something, and then getting stuck there and you're not, you can change the name of your program change your title, change your course you can change any decision that you have ever made in your business and everything it's going to deal with a, you're still gonna be there.

Conny Graf 28:32
So, yeah, that's so true and I think it has, so I'm very connected to nature and I think it has a lot to do that we kind of lost or a lot of us lost their connection and I'm not that better I may be a little closer but still we lost the connection to nature and when you look in nature, nature lets go of things, we wouldn't have spring. If we also don't. If we also don't have fall and winter and fall and winter is the nature's way of letting go and letting you things drive and you could look at it and say okay every year she makes like you take an apple tree every year makes the same kind of flowers and then the same kind of fruit but then it lets it go afterwards. And if we would just look at it like this a little bit more and just like, go and create new. So, yeah, so I agree, we can take nature and look at it and use it as an example for creating and for letting go. And we don't have to carry it with us because it just keeps holds us back and it keeps us stuck. So I really love how you're, you're saying this. Yeah. So where can people find you if they want to learn more about you and your coaching.

Hannah Hassler 29:52
Yes, so my website is Rorschach your, and I'm sure you'll put that in the show notes. And the Rorschach is called listen with the inkblot test so the idea of your perception, to change your reality, how you choose to see something is vital, so you can find me there over on Instagram I Hannah underscore Hassler as you can find me there and follow along as well. I try to be pretty good about updating things on my website and also be pretty active online so you can always you know DM me or email me or whatever, whatever works best for you.

Conny Graf 30:35
Okay, wonderful yeah I will for sure put everything in the show notes. Also that book from Julia Cameron so in case people want to check that one out. So it's really great to have you on the podcast Hannah. Any last words or tips.

Hannah Hassler 30:52
Oh man, I would encourage everyone if you even if you don't think journaling is for you to give the daily pages to try. You know show up for yourselves, start to empty some of that noise out of your head it seriously does make a difference and then you know if you, if you ever burn them or you think you might want to burn them but you're not sure like Feel free to shoot me a message and tell me about it. I'd love to hear from people so awesome, awesome yeah i agree i like the morning pages, it actually really helps to get focused and get all that garbage out on my brain. And I don't think I have to remember anything afterwards because it is on paper somewhere.

Conny Graf 31:32
Yeah. Yeah. So thanks so much Hannah for for your time and for, for sharing your wisdom with us.

Hannah Hassler 31:39
Yes, thank you so much for having me on the show Conny This was so wonderful.

Conny Graf 31:44
Yeah. Thank you. Bye bye.

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