Have you ever recognised there are some things in life that you do as part of your normal routine that others think are special? Part of my daily ritual for the past 25 years has been to write in a journal. Note, it is not a diary, though I have one of those as well which records facts and appointments, but what makes a journal different is that although it does record the time and date, what it specialises in is feelings.
The process helps me to get stuff out of my head and put it on paper so I can see it and hopefully make sense of it. There is no set method, and one of my friends told me recently that he often draws pictures in his journal, but I’m not that artistic, I would rather deal in words, with a nice fountain pen in a strongly bound book that will stand the test of time. But how is it useful? That is not an easy question to answer but here are ten tips on how I use journaling.
- Tool for self-discovery! Writing helps me to make sense of who I am and what I’m doing, even if it seems that there are many more questions than answers.
- Opportunity for reflection! Journaling as part of my normal day gives me the time I need to reflect on what I’ve done yesterday and make sure that I’m doing the right things today.
- Hopes and dreams for the future! The process helps me to look out of the rut that I often feel I’m in and grapple with the bigger picture of where my life is heading.
- Dialogue with myself about my emotions! I often ask myself “how do I feel?” Am I feeling sad, mad, glad or afraid? What specifically is happening to stimulate those emotions?
- Forces me to name those emotions and deal with them! My journal helps me to see when the emotion seems out of sync with the events, and how that is affecting me.
- Opportunity to vent! Sometimes I just need to just get stuff off my chest, and blow off steam to get things back into perspective. That is a bit scary at times when I look back at those entries, but it is definitely therapeutic.
- Opens possibility to slow down and refocus! With the increasing pace of life this is a release valve which forces me to stop and evaluate the options and not just get carried along by other people’s plans without thinking.
- Forces me to write down an action plan! My journal contains a permanent record of how I came to a decision and how I plan to put it into practice, which can be really helpful when I get lost further down the track.
- Lets me see what God is trying to show me! I usually include what I have been reading from the Bible and any insights I might gain from other books I am reading. I usually include any quotes in black to make them stand out.
- This is a daily discipline that helps me to stay balanced! If you are having trouble holding it all together try this for a couple of weeks and see if it makes a difference.
OK I’m showing my age, yes I use a pen and write in a book, but you can do it on your computer or start a blog with the same aims and goals. The key is to just start and see where it leads you. Maybe God himself will speak to you though it!
Chaplain Ian S Whitley