Do you crave feeling present and mindful but your monkey mind is constantly taking reign? Yep, I’ve been there. I always had a million thoughts, ideas, and insecurities clouding my mind.
That was until the day I used a gift card to buy a journal. I had no clue why. I started writing out everything clouding my mind and stopping me being present in my life. Once it was out of my head and on the page instead I suddenly felt lighter.
I was so overwhelmed by this incredible practice that I wanted everyone I knew to try it. People were intrigued but showed resistance, with excuses from “I don’t have time,” to “I’m not a writer, therefore I can’t.” When I heard their resistance I realised I felt the same way about writing before I started journaling; I hated it.
Journaling is different however. Journaling is a way to have a conversation with yourself by taking all the different voices you have in your mind and organizing them. By meeting with all aspects of yourself, you get to decide which voices you want to listen to.
Journaling also enabled me to get to know myself and cultivate self-awareness through being vulnerable and letting out thoughts or feelings so they weren’t constantly filling my head and clouding my thoughts.
So if you’re thinking of starting, here are 6 tips to get you on your way:
Like with anything , you learn best by doing. The more you do it, the easier it will become. You don’t even need to like it at first, and you may not see instant results, but by making a start and keeping at it you will soon start enjoying it and seeing the fruits of your labour.
The best part about journaling? It’s impossible to do it wrong. Journaling is for you and you can make it your practice. There are so many ways to get your thoughts out of your mind and onto the page. You could start simply with 10 things you’re grateful for. You could stop there or maybe you have more to say and end up expanding on those things until next thing you know you’ve written pages. The only way you can fail is by not trying at all.
3.Ask yourself good questions
When you ask yourself intelligent questions you’ll be amazed at the intelligent answers your intuition will give you. This doesn’t mean the questions have to be profound, but just have some depth. How are you feeling? What are you struggling with? Where are you lacking support in your life? If you can’t think of questions perhaps think of those you would ask a good friend who is talking through a difficult situation with you. Journaling allows you to befriend yourself and lets you get to know the thoughts in your mind. Once you can recognise and articulate those thoughts you can question if they are true or not or change your negative thoughts to something more positive.
The best part of journaling is that you can let all of your grammar and spelling go out the window and freely write. It’s liberating, but can also feel scary at first. Stop filtering and just allow the words to flow. Don’t stop the flow, simply let out all the raw, real, true and messy.
5. Be honest
To get real benefit from journaling you have to be honest with yourself. Writing down those thoughts you have been thinking on repeat, those fears you’d never dare articulate and those dreams you’re too scared to admit to all needs to come out.
What stops us from feeling free and fully ourselves is what we are hiding. We bury our secrets and get preoccupied managing them to ensure we appear perfect. But when we let it out and let go of trying to be perfect (even if it’s just to ourselves in our journals), we can breathe.
By being vulnerable we can also let go of any guilt we’re holding on to. As Breneì Brown teaches, shame cannot survive being shared, and admitting our shame to ourselves is the first step.
6. Just keep going
When you’re doing things that are new and uncomfortable, it’s inevitable that to some extent you’ll feel imposter syndrome. When I started teaching yoga, I felt like I wasn’t actually a yoga teacher but just pretending to be one. As Kurt Vonnegut says in Mother Night however, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
Journaling and expressing your raw feelings on paper may be brand-new for you and by going this deep it may cause some strong reactions. Don’t let that stop you! Everyone feels like an imposter when they start a new routine. When something is new, or you haven’t done it consistently, it’s not ingrained yet. Feeling uncomfortable is when most people quit.
So when you reach this point, you must ask yourself: Do I want to have a deep life? Do I want to feel the full spectrum of emotions . . . or do I want to numb out?’
When you feel like you’re playing pretend as a writer you need to keep going. That’s when, with time, the routine becomes ingrained, and before you know it . . . you will no longer be pretending.