Am I doing it wrong? 7 Steps to Journal Like a Pro!
Over the past few years of connecting with women online about personal empowerment, one of the major themes of fear that arises, is around journal writing. So many women know that journals are a useful and powerful tool for self development and mindfulness, but few of them feel confident in doing so on their own. They fear they aren’t asking themselves the right questions, or that their journal entry becomes more of a “Dear Diary” situation… they simply don’t want to do it wrong.
This, in itself, is a reminder to me of the healing potential of mindfulness through writing~ This is a world that we believe to be so black and white, and yet, when you begin to dive deeper into the truth of your inner psyche, you realize that everything is in pure color; shades blending together everywhere you look.
The desire itself to “get it right” symbolizes an obsession with the masculine energy of the world… We have been taught that if we do things right, we will reap the reward – in this case, inner peace and happiness.
In order to achieve those elusive emotions, it requires an undoing of how we view the rest of the world. Achievements through school, career, money, relationships, and everything else in life, are how we have based our beliefs around happiness and joy, so by that equation, if we achieve our goals we will become happy.
In true mindfulness exploration, we realize that our inner peace and happiness have ZERO correlation with what we achieve, and instead, how we feel in life. Our external circumstances needn’t have anything to do with how we perceive ourselves on the inside. And this inside perception is actually what creates our level of peace and joy.
For example; a woman who has over $200,000 saved in her bank account, has a steady high-paying job, a great house and a busy family, appears to be incredibly happy from the outside. But in truth, behind the scenes, this woman may be hiding the secret that she has to keep this money hidden from her husband, because of his quiet online gambling problem. Her children are beginning to hang out with the wrong kids at school and she doesn’t know how to handle it. Her daily yoga class is her only moment of solitude each day, and to top it off, she is starving herself skinny with green juice and diet pills. She likely rates her level of inner peace at a 2 or 3 out of the 10.
In another example; a woman who is struggling to make her mortgage payment each month and is 3/4’s of the way through her adult college education. Somehow, she manages to put healthy meals on the table for her kids every night, takes free yoga classes through a karma exchange of volunteering, and she makes sure she spends at least a few hours each week with friends. She may rate her inner peace at a 6 or 7 out of 10.
Challenge is inevitable.
Struggle is a choice.
A journal is a powerful way to tap into the subconscious part of your brain by yourself. It is a free practice, that when used regularly, becomes a healing tool in the journey back to mindfulness and self love. But what do you do when you’re fearful of how to journal?
Here are 7 steps to ease your way into a regular journal practice, and begin cultivating inner peace and happiness from within.
- Remind yourself that there is no right or wrong way to journal. As long as you are writing down something, you are freeing space in your mind to digest and release unnecessary thoughts. This leads to deeper sleep as you go to bed with a calmer mind.
- Commit to a specific length of time. Journal every day to get yourself into a habit. Let this commitment be accessible, and still a bit beyond your comfort zone. Try writing first thing in the morning, or right before bed, for a minimum of 10 minutes each day for two weeks. After 14 days, assess how you feel and adjust accordingly.
- Honor your journal time as self-care. Ask for your space ~ many moms try to fit these practices in while their kids still need their attention, or their minds are taken over by the last of the day’s to-do list. Allow this practice to be sacred space for you. Ask for some quiet time (or do it when the kids are in bed), light some candles, use your favorite essential oils, or maybe you have special pens ~ whatever it may be, create a special environment just for you, to help you stay committed to yourself. Ignore distractions.
- Get a new beautiful journal. Journal writing does not require a fancy pretty book. It can be done on a pad of paper, post it notes, or even the notes section on your phone. But, when you invest in a new journal that visually inspires you, it allows your daily journal time to become a personal ritual of beauty and love.
- Avoid writing about your day from an external perspective. “I went to yoga, I completed that presentation, I walked the dog” doesn’t cultivate introspective work. Instead allow your journal to be a sacred space for you to write about your feelings, your intimate thoughts, your beliefs. For each physical thing you “did”, ask yourself how it made you feel and write about that. It will feel a bit awkward at first, but this is how we tap into our deepest thoughts and feelings.
- Ask yourself questions. Whenever the words aren’t flowing, turn to a question to let your mind ponder and explore. Below I’ve listed example questions to get you started. For more inspiration try an online search for “journal prompts”
- Gratitude. It is a hot word these days, but do you honestly know the true value of having a daily gratitude practice? My clients have used gratitude as a way to attract more abundance, heal relationships, gather belief in themselves again, and transform a negative body image into one of acceptance and love. Start by writing down 5-10 things you’re grateful for each day with no repeats. This trains your brain to see all that you already have, instead of constantly seeking for more things, or difference experiences.
Journal Questions to get you started:
How am I feeling today?
What lights up my heart?
What is the difference between feeling content and bored?
If I could do anything tomorrow, what would I choose?
If I were given $1 Million today, how would I react? How would I spend it? What would I change in my life?
What is the difference between mindfulness and awareness?
How do I desire to feel each morning?
What am I most grateful for in this moment?
What did I want to be as a child?
Who has been the biggest influence on my life and who I am today?