I was 10 year old
When I was 10 year old, I got given a pretty floral journal with lock and key for Christmas. It was beautiful, it was special, and It was all mine. My first entry was new years eve, and I kept on writing in that diary almost daily…Sharing my dramas, my fears, my secret worries and my triumphs, through my school year, uni, working as a stripper, my first west end show, my heartbreaks, pregnancy…
For 26 years I’ve been writing my inner and outer life out on to the page. It has been my constant companion, a security at times, and it has been the cheapest therapist I’ll ever have! I exercise, and I meditate. But if I were to choose one practice that has given me the most and which I would most recommend to others wanting to make changes in their lives, or overcome their own perceived blocks and limitations.
So often, most of us are speeding through our lives at 100 miles per hour. Our minds are almost constantly on overwhelm and saturated with an overload of information. Constant sales pitches and continual demands for our attention.
The age of distraction
We truly do live in the age of distraction. We were never meant to live at such a fast pace, processing so much, and attempting to play so many different roles. Society has changed so quickly, especially during this technological age. There’s no way our still mostly primal brains could ever hope to match the speed of evolution; it is a constant stressors on our bodies and our minds.
When it comes to the act of journaling, we have a chance to slow down. Enter the present moment. Writing our thoughts out, long-hand, gives us a chance to process them as we write. We cannot rush off onto another thought, another distraction, forgetting where we were at. Or flitting off somewhere else, when a certain path our mind is taking us down touches on something a bit too uncomfortable to look at. We go there.
There is something about the process of writing your thoughts out as you are thinking them that helps you really see those thoughts. Be aware of them, and follow them through to their end. I absolutely agree with Joan Didion when she said, “I write to know what I think”.
The biggest light bulb moments have happened to me whilst journaling. Now, I did that…they came from me. I don’t think I would have got there, reached and touched those truths unless I’d followed them down the rabbit hole. With my pen and seen them staring back at me from the page.
So…in a nutshell, here are the five reasons I journal, and why I really think you should too!
1. You get to have an affair!
Yes, really! I honestly don’t know if I would know myself in the same way if I did not journal. It’s like a gorgeous little affair I have with myself. I relish that time I can sneak off and spend some time immersed in that inner dialogue. It has helped me to learn to understand myself, know myself, and love myself.
2.You get to see the bigger picture
One thing that has been incredible about keeping a journal for so long is that, unlike anything else I can think of that would allow this, I can look back through journal after journal and very clearly see the same old lies. Stories I have been telling myself time and time again. Month after month, and year after year.
The patterns are there in plain black and white, and are impossible to ignore. In this way, journaling is not only a practice in mindfulness, putting pen to paper and keeping yourself in the present moment. It is also a fascinating way of becoming aware of your over-arching story. What are you happy to keep writing down and confirming to yourself? Do you want to change that story?
3. It always guides me towards a resolution
When we are thinking, or worrying…or just existing in our every day lives, are thoughts flit in and out and are nearly impossible to catch, let alone look at, before the next distraction or thought flits in. If you meditate you will absolutely know this to be true.
Most of us really come to realise, aghast, just how crazy our minds are when we begin to meditate. They seldom stop for a moment. Therefore, it’s very hard to ever solve a personal problem, or get to the resolution of a worry, a pain point or dilemma. Its tough to look at, it makes us feel icky when we think about it, so let’s not stay there.
With journaling, you go there, you stay there, you write through the ickyness, and then after a while of getting all the moaning and worrying out? This really cool, wiser version of you that you may never have known existed, rocks up and takes the reigns.
You can pretty much watch the pen move as you are told what needs to happen by the part of you that doesn’t worry, but knows where the shizzle is at. Which leads me to…
4. It’s empowering
One of the best things about journaling is how bloody empowering it is. You realise that rather than needing to keep searching for someone who knows the answers, who can save you and tell you what the hell to do…you yourself are the perfect person for that job. You already have the answers and deep down you know what you want to do, and that’s really hard to avoid when you are following that thought at the slowed down pace of your own hand-writing.
It’s incredibly liberating, when you start to realise that you are your own best saviour…infact, the only person who can really save you, is you. No one else is coming. And that’s ok. It’s actually great! You realise how much you already know and start writing your way out of the deep, dark woods.
5. The world is your oyster
Dreams start to seem possible when you journal regularly. Writing down the things that excite you and light you up, your deepest, craziest fantasies of the life you would love to live, helps you to gain real clarity on what you want and what you no longer want in your life.
I personally find that following my imagination with my pen, more exciting than creating a vision board, because I feel less limited by words than I do by pictures that already exist. I can describe what I see, but also what I hear, what I smell and I paint a picture in my mind so vivid and exciting that I can almost touch it.
It’s when we can really enter the full senses of our vision that it can really start to have an impact on attracting that into our reality, and so I truly believe that journaling is a really powerful way to get clear on where we are going, our purpose in life and what really lights us up. Try starting each sentence with, ‘I see…’, ‘I smell…’… and see where it takes you to. You might surprise yourself!
So there you have it, five reasons why you have to get on this journaling train! It isn’t a fad, it’s a practice that the best of them have been steeping themselves in for hundreds of years…you’d be joining the likes of Thomas Eddison, Einstein and Frida Kahlo, as well as the modern preachers on the power of journaling, like Tim Ferris, Oprah Winfrey and Julia Cameron.
Give it a go. Go get yourself a cute note book, and a swish new pen, and just start writing… I promise, it will lead you wherever it is that you need to go!