I don’t know about you but I struggled with journaling when I was younger. And frankly, I’m not great at it now. I chalk it up to laziness, or being too busy. It took me some time to realize my resistance was to telling the ugly, honest truths about myself. If I write the truth down then I have to acknowledge it. Accept it. Own it. Turns out, THAT IS THE POINT. I was so busy trying to outrun, escape, or ignore my truths it never occured to me that owning them is what sets me free!
If you are resistant to journaling, it’s possible you’re not just being lazy. You may be trying to avoid looking at yourself honestly. What I’d like to offer you is another perspective. What if writing about your story helps you appreciate the highs and lows? What if admitting, even just to yourself, that making a mistake took its power away?
Avoidance. Let’s talk about it. Where does it come from? When we were cavemen, ignoring a potential threat could be deadly. Why is it so hard for us to turn around and face what is unpleasant? In our 'treat yo self' society, are we conditioning ourselves to avoid pain? Have we gotten too good at diversion and distraction? I believe we have. Emotion is meant to be felt.
As author and activist Glennon Doyle says "When pain knocks on the door, the wise ones breathe deep and say "Come in. Site down with me. And don't leave until you've taught me what I need to know". There is so much to learn about ourselves as we experience strong emotion. So let feelings rise to the surface. And when they do, don't tune them out with whatever avoidance tactic or numbing activity you might have chosen in the past. Instead, take up pen and paper and see what happens!
How to get started:
1. Use an old fashioned pen or pencil and a notepad. We’re so conditioned to using screens all the time but something about the process of physically writing is powerful. Keep your journal by your bed as a visual reminder to write.
2. Experts say writing first thing in the morning is a great way to start your day. Usually we are more open and optimistic in the morning and it can help clear out thoughts that swirled overnight. You may find a fair amount of clarity first thing in the morning. I like to write after a short morning meditation, as I seem to come out of it with ideas or new perspectives (link to meditation blog article).
3. Forget your high school creative writing requirements and just let the words flow from your pen or pencil. There are no readers you need to be concerned with, no grammar police to check your sentence structure. Let go and let it flow from your mind to your hand.
4. Take some time to read what you’ve written. Reflection on past entries helps us see progression and cultivate empathy for our trials. It also helps us leave things behind.
5. Keep your journals! They offer such rich insight. You may really appreciate seeing how far you've come in a year or five years.
I'd love to know what your experience is when you write. Leave me a few comments about what comes up for you when you open your heart and let honesty flow.