Today I’m going to share some of my thoughts on and experiences with journaling.
I had an epiphany recently; I realized that I have spent many years engaged in unconscious journaling, and I believe it may have led to or helped facilitate living unconsciously.
I’ll explain what I mean by journaling unconsciously by sharing some of my experiences. I’ve journaled off and on for a very long time; a few years ago I came across an old duo-tang that served as my journal when I was about 15 years old. As I read through it I became quite disheartened, everything I wrote about was negative! And the drama! I couldn’t believe it! Page after page was full of teen angst – situations blown out of proportion to make them seem bigger than life. It was pathetic really – I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, when I think back on my teen years I don’t recall a lot of joy, but I know there was some! but I was a teenager after all, isn’t that what they do? This is my first example of unconscious journaling, I was basically purging and venting.
Well, after reading that I decided to pull out some of the books I’d been keeping for the last 10 years or so. As I read through them it didn’t take me long to see a pattern. They were all detailing the crap in my life! Negative situations, negative people, negative emotions. Page after page after page of it! Once again I will defend myself by explaining these were written in the midst of a fairly dysfunctional, unhappy marriage, so anyone would expect to see passages detailing the issues I was dealing with; but 85 – 90%; I know more than 10% of my life was spent happy and enjoying life, I had two wonderful children and a few good friends! Sadly I don’t remember a lot of the details and apparently I’ll never have a chance to read about them either.
I think the pattern of chronicling the all the negative for years may have been unconsciously adding fuel to the fire because I was drawing my attention to all the unfavorable situations, and I don’t know about you, but if I dwell on something that is bothering me for long enough it seems to grow and fester. I suppose this can lead to times of melancholy and immobility, and lots of time to write. If things are good, I’m busy enjoying life, I make lots more plans, and take it for granted that I’m happy. My days are fuller and I have less time to write about it.
At about the time I went through all these old journals I had just made some big life changes that meant I had to step up and live my life differently. Luckily I also had some A HA moments regarding the power of positive thinking and was putting a conscious effort into noticing the good things. As my life began to evolve I began to have some amazing “coincidences” and strokes of unbelievable luck which compelled me to write about them. Honestly, even at that time I was still journaling unconsciously, but at least it was about the joyful and exciting experiences for a change.
Approximately a year ago I became very interested really creating my life. I decided to become an active participant, not just sit back and let life happen to me. As I tried new things or challenged myself I would write about it which felt good – so good I even went back and reread it which led me to feel proud and excited all over again.
One day I decided I would try writing down things I wanted or situations that hadn’t happened yet, I guess like a written visualization. I would write, then leave it for a day or even a week or two, then write another list or scenario about the same situation or thing I desired. After 2 or 3 versions I would go back to compare the different entries and I noticed a lot of it would be the same, but sometimes something would be omitted or added. I was tweaking it, really getting clear on what I wanted. At this point I believe I was transitioning from unconscious to conscious journaling. I was also noticing much more joy, less stress and things or people I needed were coming into my life.
You’re probably wondering if I am still writing about the crappy parts in my life – yes – because there is always going to be negative situations, negative people and negative emotions. It wasn’t until recently that I began writing about them consciously though; although I had been conscious enough to take care not to obsess too long about anything bad, and then move on to something positive.
Now I have started to use the journal to help myself work through a situation, to see it from a different perspective, decide if I’m blowing things out of proportion. I question why I react a certain way, is it an automatic reaction because of an old issue, what can I learn from this? In doing this I can come up with ideas or solutions instead of just venting or purging.
For many years I thought life was difficult and it was, I have proof in all the journals I’ve kept! This is why I believe that unconscious journaling can unintentionally encourage our minds to focus on the negative, especially if you’re like I was and tend to write about unhappy, stressful situations. I think this contributed to living unconsciously, because I was viewing life from a more negative perspective.
So I’ve come to the conclusion that if we choose to journal consciously we have a powerful tool to help you create a happy fulfilling life by using these four techniques:
1) Focus on the wonderful situations or people you encounter
2)Chronicle positive or exciting choices you make and then reread them so you can relive them and feel good all over again.
3) Make lists or create scenarios so you can gain clarity in what you want in your life
and 4) Work through stressful, difficult situations and come up with solutions.
I’m going to continue to journal consciously and I hope you will give it a try too.