The surprising reason why Journaling is not working for you
Let's get this straight: you don't need to be a writer to write a journal!
I lost count of the number of people I came across that are put off journaling because they think they need to get it straight and perfect. You don't. You really don't!
If you hold on to that belief, you will feel frustrated every time you grab your journal, or you won’t even try to write because your expectations are so high.
That’s is completely the opposite of what using a journal entails. You will then use this as an excuse to not give journaling a try, but rest assured that you are not alone!
This is called resistance! And all of us face resistance in one way or another when we know that trying a new tool will help us, but we know for growth to happen, we will have to face some ghosts.
The purpose of journaling is for you to be in the moment, relax and connect with your inner feelings. Some painful, some sad, others happy and positive, but in the end, you will feel lighter, connected, and with much more clarity.
One technique that you can use is sprint writing. Basically, you grab a pen and you start writing nonstop for 15 minutes. Whatever comes to mind, you put it down on paper without stopping to reflect if it makes sense, if the grammar is right. Just write until you feel there isn’t much more to say. When you finish, read your entry- not to amend anything but to reflect on what were the feelings or patterns of thoughts that came up for you. Do this over a week, writing about different things without stopping. I promise you that by the end of that week you will have more clarity on what are the emotions and thoughts that remain stable in all your entries.
That important information is then what you need to work on: the feelings, maybe limiting beliefs, maybe an event that is still causing you anguish. Those are the things that are keeping you stuck at this moment and preventing you from moving forward.
This exercise is also very good to break that belief that you need to be an author to write and that your writing needs to be perfect. As you write without stopping and amending, you feel so deliberated from the block that you have to write perfectly.
For instance, if you really feel that the thought that you have to write perfectly or neatly is stopping you from starting to journal, you can use this as a prompt for your entry!
Start by writing “ My fear of getting it wrong is stopping me from journaling, because…” or “ I feel that my journal needs to be perfect because….” and then sprint write for 15 to 20 minutes and see what comes out for you. Maybe there are some limiting beliefs or situations that taught you in the past that you need to get things done perfectly, or that you can’t fail. Maybe there is something hidden that tells you that you have to get high expectations of everything that you do. Maybe it will link you to a memory from your childhood. And that’s exactly what we aim for when journaling: discovering all the things that are in our subconscious mind but that are preventing us from enjoying life now and are stopping us from moving forward.
I would also recommend you to keep a section in your journal to record all the feelings, emotions, or limiting beliefs that come for you repetitively. You can colour code it or make a graphic with three columns: one for the feeling/ belief, another for the situations that you experienced and you connected to that feeling/belief, and another column to write a situation that you feared feeling or experiencing that way but it proved you the opposite. ( see graph below)
From a mindset perspective, it’s very helpful to be able to visualize the pros and cons, and read about all the situations that prove us we overcame or confronted a feeling, belief, or painful situation. Every time we prove to ourselves that we can do something that we fear, the stronger and more determined we get.
Don’t let the fear of journaling imperfectly stopping you from using this amazing self-help tool. There is no right or wrong way of journaling.
The only purpose is to get awareness, clarity, and healing from what we discover about ourselves.