At the age of 12, I found an unused journal that belonged to my mother. It had a lock and looked so pretty. After permission, I decided to make it my personal journal. I did not know how to journal, or what to journal about, so I mainly wrote about what was going on in my life. Soon enough, I realized I had found a refuge. I would pour everything that was bothering me onto those pages, and that is how I kept a journal till I was 26. I wrote almost every day about my world, my reflections on my circumstances, how I saw the world and the difficulties I was experiencing. Rarely was there any evidence of the good things that were happening in my life; it was as if none of that existed.
Every year, I would open an old journal and find an entry from the year before, and I would compare my present with my past. I frequently found myself longing for that experience. Even though the entry was about the troubles that I’d been facing, it still seemed like a better place than NOW.
It became my personal tradition. I wrote about all the stuff I hated or that was bothering me. I found a moment in time to reflect on, and I longed for it.
One day, I decided to shred all my diaries. I did not even think it through. I just felt my chronicles had become a burden, as if they were keeping me stuck in my own constrained narrative. I took them to work, found a shredder, and started tearing them in chronological order. In a way, I was saying goodbye to each phase of me. It was hard to pretend to be shredding office papers since the journals were colorful and the covers had skulls, unicorns, and flowers, but my awesome colleagues pretended that they did not notice!
While ripping those pages, I got a bit sad. It felt like there was an innocent part of me in every journal that did not know any better and thought that the world was a cruel, angry place. Those journals kept me safe.
However, with sadness came relief! I became unchained from those anecdotes of being a victim of circumstance. I felt empowered and decided to be more cautious with what I was repeating to be true.
I miss journaling for one reason, it helped me vent. I do see the purpose of journaling for relief. However, I held onto to my filtered story as if my life depended on it.
After a while, I discovered that there are different powerful forms of journaling that can help us in our everyday lives, inspirations, and future goals.
- Morning Pages By Julia Cameron. A few months back, my mom shared this impressive form of journaling by the teacher, author, and artist Julia Cameron. “Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages – They are not high art. They are not even ‘writing.’ They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page… and then do three more pages tomorrow.” Julia Cameron. The intent behind this form of writing is to gain more clarity and silence your inner critic. It is important that you write instead of type the entries. Cameron believes there is a genuine connection to oneself when one puts pen to page. Basically, just write whatever pops into your mind, and fill those three pages. You can find online the many inspiring artists, speakers, and influencers that practice this type of journaling.
- Gratitude journals. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude before bed can help you sleep better. According to Linda Andrews, several studies were conducted on this subject. “Psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough asked people with neuromuscular disorders to make nightly lists of things for which they were grateful. After three weeks, participants reported getting longer, more refreshing sleep” (Andrews, 2011). Many of my friends started gratitude journals, and they have felt major positive shifts in their overall wellbeing!
- Pray Rain Journals by Jeannette Maw. “Writing a page a day about what you want as if it already happened. By the time you get to the end of your journal, you’ll have it. (Or it’ll be so close you can reach out and touch it.)” Jeannette Maw (a Master Certified Coach and founder of Good Vibe University). You might find that bizarre at first, but you would be surprised how many people are addicted to this form of journaling because it has worked for them! Here is the link to Jeannette’s eBook for more information.
At the moment, I am experimenting
with Morning Pages. I find a few minutes in the morning to write whatever crosses my mind. Since I haven’t written in a journal for some time now, I found the exercise a bit uncomfortable. However, I believe I am gaining clarity and space to start my day, so I will keep going!
Whether you love writing or not, find a way to let out the cluttered thoughts from your daily life. That inner narrative will keep running like a generator with eternal battery life. It never dies out. Give it space, but do not hold on to it. Let it out and allow room for creativity to shine in.
“Whatever it is that you write, putting words on the page is a form of therapy that doesn’t cost a dime.” Diana Raab
Andrews, L. W. (2011, November 09). How Gratitude Helps You Sleep at Night. Retrieved November 07, 2016, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/minding-the-body/201111/how-gratitude-helps-you-sleep-night
Cameron, J. (2002). Morning Pages | Julia Cameron Live. Retrieved November 07, 2016, from http://juliacameronlive.com/basic-tools/morning-pages/
Maw, J. (2010). The Magic of Pray Rain Journaling. Retrieved November 07, 2016, from http://prayrainjournal.com/