20. To Journal Or Not To Journal, That Is The Question!
I unwrapped it gently and held this beautiful book in my hand; it had ‘My Journal’ embossed in silver foil on the front and looked so innocent and pretty and …..was already creating so much havoc in my mind I felt weirdly overwhelmed! How do I start? What do I write? What if someone reads it? Why do I even need to journal? Can I be bothered to add yet another thing to my list of living?!
Does any of that ring a bell for you?! To build this seemingly positive life-changing habit into my life, reap the benefits from this regular journaling and even enjoy it, I needed to understand why everyone was talking about doing it and what the fuss and hype were all about!
Are you feeling you want to understand more about this thing called ‘Journaling’ too?
Ok, great, please step this way and let’s get curious!!
Journaling and our Conscious/ subconscious brains? (Get ready for it all to make sense!)
Our lives are made up of many different layers connected with emotions. Much of what is in our subconscious brain is connected to an emotion. Accessing those emotions is what we are looking for in journaling; to bring them into our front conscious brain, which then can do what it does best; evaluate, analyse and deconstruct. Now, bearing in mind that 84% of our brain activity goes on in the subconscious and that it is here that beliefs are formed and patterns are made, there is a lot of precious material to help start the process of uncovering our limiting beliefs and the patterns around them, these allowing us to work towards making any changes we want to make.
So, creating space for our conscious awareness to catch what emotions are coming up for us in the subconscious, then putting them on paper, allows you to now stand back and look at those emotions for what they are; words written in black and white on a page.
Now we have a new perspective and distance from these emotions and thoughts, we can get to work; unveiling these elements held in our subconscious opens our eyes to any deeply entrenched beliefs, and pesky thoughts stuck on repeat. This fantastic new information allows us to recognise and acknowledge patterns in our thoughts and behaviours.
All incredibly valuable in understanding what is going on in our minds that has enabled unwanted habits and destructive behaviours. This information also opens the doors to self-reflection and knowledge, a stage we cannot bypass in the process of creating sustainable change, even though we seem to be hardwired to want to jump in and take action and change things just like that!
How else does journaling help me?
- Helps us deal with overwhelming emotion, and we can understand how we’ve dug into the front and back brain link above!
- Helps manage our anxiety by identifying and acknowledging our emotions, giving them the time and scrutiny they deserve making them our allies instead of our enemies.
- Provides an excellent opportunity for positive self-talk and helps you identify unhelpful thought and behaviour patterns.
- Improves insight and understanding, almost like two people working together to better understand each other!
- Helps you create new and connect with existing values, boundaries and goals; in writing through the mental clutter of our minds, we are provided with insights as to what it is we want to do, why and how we’re feeling about it. Tucked in amongst these insights, we discover what we believe in and why.
- Gives us the power to create space between ourselves and negative thoughts and take a breather.
- Spurs creativity (prepare; once you get the journaling bug, your pencil will be on fire, and you’ll need more!)
- Records your personal story, which I love, especially when you’re on a journey like the Path!!
How to journal
Try these tips to help you get started:
-Try to write something every day: choose a place that feels soothing and safe and a time that works for you when you won’t be disturbed; I write when I get into bed at night, so journaling has also become part of my sleep ritual – I sleep like a mouse with a full belly now!
- Make it easy. Have your favourite pen and notebook/ journal all prepared, no searching for something to write with under the bed with your phone torch.
- Start small: list three things you’re grateful for or describe something that happened in your day and how you felt. Your creative juices will only start flowing if this doesn’t feel like an obligation and is short and sweet!
- See journaling as introducing a tiny healthy habit into your life, so make sure you have what BJ Fogg calls a ‘cue’; something that triggers that it is time to write. Mine is getting into my cosy bed, which signals to my mind that I am going to journal. Don’t underestimate the power of the ‘cue’!
-Make your journal into your best friend and let it be more important to you than your phone or other – give it a prime position in your life and when you’re ready, use it to write anything and everything down, which will create a bond!
So, with all that information about writing now making so much sense, I journal every single day, it’s a bit like a paper window into my soul, and it’s allowed my awareness to grow in ways I doubt would ever have happened without my journal.
We're like puzzles and we get to discover a different piece or pattern every single time we journal; How cool is that!