A couple of months ago, I did a post about my morning routine and wrote how I tried to make time each morning to write in my journal. It’s a hit or miss thing, but lately I’ve noticed that I’ve really been able to resolve a lot of inner conflict after I’ve taken the opportunity to journal it out. Problems that I’ve come across in my life seem to resolve themselves more quickly when I’m able to write freely about them.
There has been lots of research about the benefits of journaling, which I’m sure you’ve heard from multiple places. Of all of the articles and books I’ve read about journaling, the one that really resonated with me was from the book THE ARTIST’S WAY, by Julia Cameron. She writes about how each morning she does, what she refers to as, “morning pages.” This is where she sits down and free writes everything that comes to her mind until she fills up a minimum of three pages. Anything can go onto these morning pages, even just writing “I can’t think of anything to write,” over and over again. The point of this exercise is to wake your brain up and dump everything out onto the page. The most important part of this process is to do it longhand and not via typing.
I’ve been journaling for many years, I remember watching an episode of some cartoon where one of the main characters journals about a boy she liked. She wrote his name at the top of the page and poured out all of her feelings. I proceeded to do the same thing, but instead of writing about a boy (since I was in 3rd or 4th grade), I proceeded to write about all of my classmates and gave my journal the run down of what they meant to me. I ran out of steam about half way through the class and didn’t pick it up until years later.
During my first year of marriage, I remember journaling alot. Everything from about how miserable I was being away from my family, to not being able to find a job and lamenting how horrible I was at being a wife. That volume was very negative and had I known then what I know now, I would have changed my tune and tried to go a more positive route. As it was, I was able to vent a lot in that little black notebook and it was able to give me some perspective as to what was really going on with my feelings.
After I got a grip on that situation, I stopped again for a few years and picked it up yet again when I saw all of the lovely journals on websites. Then about five years ago, I discovered the resurgence of paper products in the forms of bullet journals, stationary, decorative tape and planners. I fell into the rabbit hole with all of the fun lists of what you could use all of those journals you acquired over the years: gratitude journal, brain dumping journal, journals full of lists, fitness journals, food journals and the lists just kept going on and on.
As someone who has always loved pens and stationary, this whole journaling thing started resonating with me all over again. Who wouldn’t love to go out and buy a whole new notebook just to fill up! After I indulged in these lists for a couple of months, I started really getting into a groove of writing down my thoughts.
At first, it was tough because it was almost like replaying my day on paper. I didn’t know exactly what to write and so I just wrote what what was happening to me. It was quite dull. However, things really started moving forward when I started brain dumping and analyzing patterns that kept coming up in my life. For instance, why was I always so annoyed at my kids when they woke me up in the morning slamming doors on the weekend? After some meditation and consideration, I decided that I needed to go ahead and start waking up early on the weekends as well as the weekdays so that I could center myself before they put me into the red zone.
I also started looking into journaling prompts which helped me dig deeper into what was going on in my head. I’m going to be honest, when I read some of them I was initially intimidated. Just thinking about some of the things they wanted me to write about made my brain shut down and memories scurry away into the recesses of my brain. I shied away from them for a long time until I realized that unlocking those painful thoughts and memories was the only way that I could release them and grow.
When I read about a process that would help me let things go that I was holding onto, I had to try it. Over the course of my life I had regrets, just like most people, but they kept haunting me as I lay in bed trying to go to sleep. The guilt of something I had or had not done, or of hurting someone ate at me from the inside. I read about an exercise where you could write a letter to that person, spilling all of your thoughts onto the paper, leaving nothing out, that was supposed to help ease subconscious mind. I tried it. I wrote a letter to an old friend whom I had wronged and I had felt guilty about for years. I had no intention of sending it, so I wrote it right into my journal and spilled my guts out, apologizing to them and then telling them that I was going to let it go and move on with my life.
You know what? That worked like a charm ! It actually worked so well that I now do it on a somewhat regular basis when I’ve felt hurt by someone, or I have any guilt about what happened, or I just want to vent and let them know how it made me feel. It’s an exercise that has helped me so much that everyone should try it.
So now in 2020, I’ve decided to go back through Pinterest and find all of those journal prompts that I saved but was too scared to write about and I’m going to pull out a new notebook (because they are absolutely addictive, especially when on sale) and I’m going to make a list of prompts and pull one out when I need to write but don’t know what to write about. I’m not going to go into this new decade with fears pent up from the past, and I encourage you to eat that fear as well. The path that makes you most uncomfortable, will almost always be the path that will give you the most growth. Swallow that fear and go for it!