Journaling wasn’t something I grew up doing, because in all honesty I hated writing! Yet in my early twenties my relationship with my body and food led me into therapy and coaching. Writing became an amazing tool for me to process what I was thinking and even who I was. It helped me cultivate self-awareness which gradually became more self-acceptance.
A lot of people I’ve shared this with haven’t known where to begin. People say they don’t know where to start or they’re not writers or don’t have time. I’m not a writer either and yet somehow this was cathartic for me. I’d even got to the point where I’d write in my phone, during in-between moments like commuting. You really just need to ask yourself a question and get writing!
Along my journey through journaling, I’ve discovered some crucial pointers for getting the most out of your writing sessions. Here are my top tips to get the most out of journalling.
Think of journaling like a scavenger hunt that will lead you to your innermost feelings. It’s an exciting journey! Curiosity is the only skill you need to get going. Get inquisitive about what you’ll find out and don’t rush the process. This isn’t a results driven process- it’s not about where you end up, it’s much more about what you discover along the way. Sit with every feeling and emotion that comes through while you’re writing, even the more uncomfortable ones. What you find will be different every day.
2. Dance with Resistance
Resistance will inevitably arise while you’re journaling because you’ll can feel uncomfortable emotions. These are the emotions that we often look for external outlets to numb- such as food, drugs or alcohol. By leaning into your discomfort is the only way to truly change. When you become aware of the resistance to unwanted feelings and bravely lean into them what unfolds is radical and life changing.
The goal of journaling isn’t to provide you 24/7 happiness. What it is designed to do is give you the tools you require to help shorten the time between coming out of the flow and going back into the flow—flow being that state where everything in your life seems to be moving effortlessly- when the days just feel easy. By choosing different thoughts during difficult situations, you can change your perceptions and shift to being back in the flow more quickly. The first step to getting back in alignment is creating awareness of when you’re out of the flow, and this awareness can only happen in the present moment. When you’re out of alignment, you’re in your “thinking mind.” To get out, bring your attention to your feet—as they’re farthest from your brain—and notice the moment you’re currently in. Awareness is a muscle—and journalling is the gym to help you develop it.
4. Be Radically Authentic and Honest
What stops us from feeling free and fully ourselves is what we are hiding. We bury our secrets about our true goals or moments we’re embarrassed by and get preoccupied managing them to ensure we don’t appear less than perfect. But when we let it out (even if it’s just to ourselves), we can breathe. By letting yourself be vulnerable and acknowledging what we’re ashamed of, we let go of any guilt. As Brené Brown teaches, shame cannot survive being shared, and admitting our shame to ourselves is the first step. Make a commitment to radical authenticity and honesty when journalling. Let out all those secrets on paper. Don’t lie to yourself by writing what you think you “should” be writing or what someone else would want to read- write what’s true for you.
5. Fake It Till You Make It
When starting to do things that are new and uncomfortable, it’s inevitable that you’ll feel some imposter syndrome. When I started teaching yoga, I felt like I wasn’t actually a yoga teacher but just pretending to be one. But the best advice? Fake it till you make it. You will feel like a fraud, but so does everyone else. The process of journaling and expressing your feelings honestly on paper might be new for you and therefore invoke some strong reactions, such as wanting to quit or feeling like your wasting your time. Don’t let that stop you. Everyone feels as though they’re pretending when they start a new routine. So when you reach this point, you must ask yourself: Do I want to have a deep life? Journaling is a practice that puts a mirror up to your face, allowing you to see what’s going on at a deeper level and to examine your feelings as they authentically flow out of you.In time, the routine becomes ingrained, and before you know it . . . you will no longer be pretending.