Have you ever read someone’s journal, or wished you could? I must confess, I have. I was 13 and pet sitting for a friend on vacation when the temptation arose. Her journal drew me in the moment I saw it, and with little thought I gave in. Flipping open to a random page , I read that my good friend thought I had become a bit snotty and was feeling envious of my big teeth (my brother called them bunny teeth) and my new curves . I set the journal down with a sinking feeling in my stomach. I had never intended to be snotty but I certainly was snoopy.
Other emotions came alive as well. I thought of reasons I envied her. Her parents availability and interaction in her life, her thick, lovely hair, and her outgoing nature. We were at an awkward stage in life, quickly changing and trying to figure out who we were. We saw attributes and possessions all around that we thought might make us feel more confident and whole.
Since then, I have figured out a lot about myself. I had a journal by the age of ten, and the practice continues as I approach forty. Much of my self-awareness comes from the practice of journaling. Keeping a journal helps me figure out my life, reconcile complicated feelings and situations, build on my strengths, and own who I am.
Here are some of the ways I have used a journal in the last week, shared in hopes that you may see some value for your own life.
I processed through an outburst between my child and I. Sadly, the outburst was not all on his end and I felt guilty and exasperated after it happened. Negativity was weighing in with “what a bad mom you are” and, “how hopeless you are.” Instead of letting those thoughts win the day, I wrote about what had happened between my child and I, what I wanted to do differently, and what I recognized as positive interaction between us, even in the difficult interaction.
My journal is a coaching space for me, I often coach myself there, using the same questions I would use with a client.
Another way I used my journal recently was to brainstorm ways to feel more uplifted and positive in the small space I am living in these days. I came up with several ideas and purchased the coffee table I am happily working from today.
I wrote down a daydream I have for my future which made me smile. Having it visible will increase the chances that I commit to the actions necessary to make it a reality.
I wrote about my perceived limitations with offering hospitality in my current space and I listed ways I can make hospitality happen. I came up with some real possibilities and I acted on a few. I can now call a couple of my friends and invite them to coffee or tea.
I processed some hard and heartbroken feelings this week too, talking to my most reasonable self about them. She gave me far better advice and comfort than the loud, negative thoughts I sometimes have before I pause to listen to that quieter voice. I am friends with myself, especially on paper.
What thoughts or emotions are sparked when you read about my journaling practice? Is there anything that seems relevant to your life, or potentially helpful to you? Do you journal? If so, I would love to hear about it in the comment section.
Next week, I promise you a picture of my open journals. For the curious among you.