TIP1: GET CURIOUS
Approach journaling like a scavenger hunt and the book like a treasure map—one that will lead you to your innermost feelings. The journey ahead is thrilling, but it’s also new territory since you’re going into the great unknown. Slight curiosity is all you need to get going. Get inquisitive about what you’ll find on the route, and don’t rush the process. It’s not about where you end up, although that’s sure to be incredible; it’s much more about what you discover along the way. Savour every feeling and emotion that comes through while you’re writing. What you find will be different every day. These tools are ever changing because you are.
TIP 2: DANCE WITH RESISTANCE
Resistance will inevitably arise while you’re journaling because you’ll start feeling emotions you don’t want to feel. We often numb those feelings with food, sex, drugs, TV— even by consuming self-help or spiritual entertainment (which was my jam). But leaning into your discomfort is how you go deep and the only way to truly change. When you become aware of the resistance to unwanted feelings and bravely lean into them what unfolds truly is radical.
TIP 3: CULTIVATE AWARENESS
The goal of journaling isn’t to make you into a “ball of sunshine” state 24/7. Rather, it is to give you tools 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. We’ve all been there, and it’s so awesome. Basically it looks something like this:
You have a great hair day, you pick your outfit with ease, you get a nice text message and find the perfect parking spot, your favorite song is on the radio, and so on—that’s “in the flow.” Out of the flow is the opposite: You can’t find anything to wear, your hair looks terrible, you get a mean text from your boss, you’re late because you can’t find a parking spot, and the song you hate keeps playing on the radio—that’s what it’s like to be “out of the flow.” While it seems like none of this is in your control, how you react to it definitely is. By choosing different thoughts during unpleasant situations, you can change your perceptions and shift from out of the flow to back in more quickly. Awareness of when you’re out of the flow is the first step to getting back in alignment, and awareness can only happen in the present moment. When you feel out of alignment, you’re in your “thinking mind.” To get out of that, simply bring your attention to your feet—because they’re farthest from your brain—and notice the moment you’re currently in. The tools in this book will help you become more aware and present, because journaling requires it. Awareness is a muscle—these tools are your gym to help you develop it.
TIP 4: BE RADICALLY AUTHENTIC AND HONEST
What stops us from feeling free and fully ourselves is what we are hiding: poor judgment calls we’ve made, things we’re embarrassed about, goals of ours that seem too unrealistic to claim. We bury our dark secrets and get preoccupied managing them to ensure we don’t appear less than perfect—or get caught in the lie of trying to appear perfect. But when we let it out (even if it’s just to ourselves), we can breathe. By being vulnerable and acknowledging what we’re ashamed of, we let go of any guilt we’re holding on to. As Brené Brown teaches, shame cannot survive being shared, and admitting our shame to ourselves is the first step. So let’s not waste your time. Make a commitment to radical authenticity and honesty when using the journaling tools in this book: Dig out the secrets you’ve buried, the things you’re hiding, and show them the light of day by letting it all out on paper. If you’re lying to yourself or writing what you think you “should” be writing or what someone else would want to read, stop yourself immediately, return to the present moment, and write what’s true for you.
TIP 5: FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT
When you’re doing things that are new and uncomfortable, it’s inevitable that to some extent you’ll feel like you’re pretending—at least I always do. When I started teaching yoga, I felt like I wasn’t actually a yoga teacher but just pretending to be one, mimicking my own teachers. But as Kurt Vonnegut says in Mother Night, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” Basically, he’s saying that it works to 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 brand-new for you. If that’s the case, going this deep might cause some strong reactions:
- Wanting to stop or quit
- Feeling like you’re a fraud
- Thinking you’re wasting your time
- Turning off your new, heightened awareness and zoning out in familiar, comfortable habits—watching TV, reading magazines, browsing online—anything to avoid that new feeling.
Don’t let that stop you. Everyone feels as though they’re pretending when they start a new routine. When you haven’t done something before, or you haven’t done it consistently, it’s not ingrained yet. This new way of expressing your feelings fully, as a writer, is uncomfortable. You might be feeling like a ball of emotion when you begin this process because perhaps you rarely ever allow yourself to feel your uncomfortable emotions. And 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 richness of mad love and the sadness of heartbreak? Do I want to feel the full spectrum of emotions . . . or do I want to numb out? Journaling is a practice that puts a mirror right up to your face. It shows you what’s going on at a deeper level when you allow yourself to examine your feelings as they authentically flow out of you. When you feel like you’re playing pretend as a writer but you like what you’re pretending—that’s when 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.
SOME TOOLS THAT WILL HELP WITH THE PROCESS
- An open mind
- Your curiosity
- A favorite journal or notebook
- A legal pad or computer paper
- A favorite writing instrument
Although nothing else is required, the following are some “nice to haves”:
- A comfortable, quiet place (Again, not required! The journaling prompts can be done anywhere, from an airplane to a crowded car ride, and you’ll be surprised where the best info comes through.)
- A cup of tea
- A burning candle
• Burning some sage / Palo Santo
- Calm, soft, inspiring music
This is the point where I wish you well on your journey through journaling! Know that it’s one with many twists and turns—some surprising, some cathartic, some deliciously uncomfortable, and all incredibly rewarding. You are a new person each and every day and the journey is an endless discovery that keeps getting better and better the more you use and return to it!