Journaling promises great changes in a persons life. Journaling promises to relieve stress. Journaling promises to be an unbiased sounding board. Journaling promises to remind us not to make the same mistakes. Right?
Well, if you are anything like me journaling does not fulfill any of those promises completely. I receive many emails stating that they have tried journaling for a year but they have seen no changes, they still have stress, their entries are beginning to yell back and they keep making the same mistakes. Journaling for this group is really just an exercise in futility.
Then on the other side of the coin I receive emails from those who believe that if they stop journaling their life will fall apart, stress will return, no one will listen to me and I will begin making mistakes more often. Journaling for this group has become a ‘task’ and a ‘talisman’ of sorts. They are leaning over pen and paper as their life line.
Most of these emails are from the ‘personal journaling’ school. Someone has shared the great benefits of journaling and encouraged them to just write promising miracles. Since the economy has turned south many have turned to journaling but their fears are still there when the stop writing. How does this person get past this hurdle?
If you are one of the struggling ‘journaler’s’ then I have some steps that should help you. So take a deep breath, relax and let’s begin.
First, personal journaling is just that personal. You have to own it. What I write about, how I write, when I write, where I write and why I write is mine and mine alone. Stop listening to those around you. They are not you! If you find that you are following rules you need to stop and relax. Rules, prompts and styles are not meant to control you but lend ideas for you to ponder.
Second, personal journaling is about ‘what’ you write about. Today you may want to write down events, tomorrow feelings, then the next day a mixture. There is no secret process that will unlock magical powers. Each day is different so it stands to reason that each day you journal will be different. The only rule I every keep is dating my journal entry. If you find that you need structure before you can write I encourage you to not write, just ponder in the quietness of your heart.
Third, personal journaling is about ‘how’ you write. If you feel like screaming write in all capital letters. Do not try to ‘analyze’ your words or intentions, just write. Reflection comes much later.
Fourth, personal journaling is about ‘when’ you write. I am an avid journaler and have been for years. . .however, there are times I miss days, even weeks. If you are not in a habit of journaling then you may want to set a specific time in the beginning but by no means is it a law! Build the habit, then relax. If you can’t journal in different places you need to consider why you are being so rigid. Strive to learn how to be content in every circumstance.
Fifth, personal journaling is about ‘where’ you write. Inside, outside, with people around, alone, on the computer or in the bathtub. The where changes as much as the what you write about. Just remember the main purpose of journaling is NOT the writing but the reflecting and getting quiet with yourself. Our society has lost the joy and freedom there is in being alone and quiet. This will drive many crazy because they believe they need music, tv or something on to relax. The main reason journaling does ‘not’ work for many is they have not relearned how to be alone and quiet with just their own thoughts.
Sixth, personal journaling is about the ‘why’ you are writing. I refer you back to the first step. Journaling is a personal journey that will grow and develop if you are honest and paitent.
Journaling is not a magic formula. It is a way to record events, memories and feelings and nothing more. Change comes when your heart is humbled and willing. Our words may say that we want to change, but until we truly are humbled we will not see lasting change. The alcoholic says he wants to quit drinking, he can quit drinking but in reality he does not quit drinking until he has hit bottom and humbled. Journaling is a tool that can lead to change, but ultimately is really is your choice to be willing to change.
Once your heart becomes willing and humble you will find journaling can push you deeper and farther than you ever imagined!