Some time ago I decided to start journaling in addition to compiling a gratitude list each night.
These practices, combined with meditation in the morning, have become the bookends of my day.
I’d heard so often that the benefits of journaling were significant and tangible and that the page was the place where I could toss out my jumbled thoughts, feelings and challenges without holding back. Not so much to act as my own agony aunt, but to simply get them out of my head, where they twist and turn and keep me pre-occupied and up to no good!
Over the months what has become abundantly obvious to me from this powerfully simple practice is that the energy I often devoted to my story of stuckness, of confusion, of doubt, frustration, fear, lack of clarity… whatever I happened to be telling myself, would be far better directed outwards, consciously creating change, rather than inward, causing mental angst. That no matter how important or apparently insurmountable the issue was that I was wrestling with, it passed. In fact sometimes when I read back over my thoughts I was amazed to see that such a short time after an entry of high drama that seemed to be close to the end of the world I seemed to have bounced back with no apparent long term scars…. Yep, I’m a bit of a drama queen 🙂
But even this drama queen could see that that classic piece of reassurance was actually true – “this too will pass”. And that was hugely reassuring. I could begin to turn down the volume on my Inner Critic (Helga the Horrible in Hobnail boots for those of you who have yet to hear about her). When she popped up wailing her eternal message of the doom and gloom that was just waiting to strike in a given situation I could pause and breathe and remind myself, that whatever was happening, it would pass. I had made it through challenging situations before and I would make it through this one as well…..
Seeing your thoughts, not just thinking them
By committing my thoughts to the page, I allowed myself to create space between them and me. To see them for what they actually are – just thoughts. Not reality. I’m not sure at what point I actually began to make that distinction – that my thoughts are just thoughts not reality. Read that one again please – it’s really, really important to take in. You have the power of choice here. You can hear your thoughts. Recognise them. And choose whether or not you actually want to act on them. Auto pilot switches off. Conscious choice begins to kick in.
(Now just to confuse you, I’d like to point out that your thoughts can indeed create your reality, absolutely, when you choose to consciously direct them towards a clear intention. I’m talking about the random often negative and debilitating thoughts where you’re reliving the regrets of the past or imagining what can go wrong in the future kinda thoughts. Another whole blog post will be written about intention and attention soon, I promise!)
So the power of journaling begins to leave the page and impact your everyday life. Pretty cool.
How do you get started?
- Buy yourself a lovely looking journal that you want to write in. This does not have to be expensive (unless you want it to be). Here’s mine – $3 from K Mart. I happen to have a soft spot for butterflies (love the transformation that they represent) and so I’m always delighted to open and write in this one. And my still addictive traits mean that I bought six when I found one I liked so I won’t be running out in a while!________________
- Small point, but an important one for me and maybe you too – a pen that you enjoy writing with! Again, no need to mortgage the house for a Mount Blanc masterpiece – I just happen to prefer fine-tipped pens – my words flow easily out of the end of such a pen. Hide it though if you have kids – you KNOW what I mean about pens mysteriously disappearing in your home!
- Commit. Every morning. No matter what. If that means waking up 15 minutes earlier when the house is quiet and before anyone else can disturb you do it. It’s worth it.
No judging, This is completely unstructured writing not intended for anyone’s eyes but your own. Don’t edit. Just get out whatever is on your mind. This might feel inane and rather pointless at first, but trust me. There is gold in that pen even if you can’t see it just yet.________________
- Breathe. Conscious big deep breaths in and out when you’re finished. Stretch. Smile a little. Roll your shoulders. You’re moving closer to your truth every time you show up at the page.
As you get into the flow of writing you will begin to notice your feelings surging up and down as you write. This is good! You’ll be able to work through them on the page reflecting on significant experiences and lessons that you have. The clarity that will reward you over time as you see patterns emerge is significant. And as this self-awareness grows, you will be able to take inspired action to move further into your wholehearted life.
I’m excited by the adventures that await me in my daily journaling. I hope you’ll begin or continue your own journey.