Suggesting someone start journaling is akin to recommending broccoli, a consistent sleep schedule and regular exercise. The mere mention of the idea is consistently met with head nodding about the value – followed immediately by confessions of attempted starts, stops and surrenders. So, let’s not consume any time suggesting you start journaling. Instead, let’s assume we would all like to journal (duh) but gave up on the idea – yet again – for most of the same reasons. Perhaps something here can provide the breadcrumbs to lead you back home…
Home. Designed to be a place of transparency, acceptance and peace that allows us to discover and live out who (and then what) we were designed to be within a world that rarely makes much sense. It’s the base camp – the place of restoration and recovery from which we launch our next adventure or pursuit.
Until it’s not.
Far too often home is none of the above. Instead of the base camp, it’s the basis for the problems that pervade our thoughts, the pressures that drive the sleepless nights, the chaos that drives us further inward, shrinking our world to the 3 x 6-inch escape hatch we grasp so tightly (almost) 24/7.
You thought this was the place where I was going to suggest journaling as the answer to all your problems, didn’t you? Absolutely not. Instead, while I may only be able to name two characters from Star Trek, I won’t hesitate to lean on the opening words of the series: “Space – the Final Frontier” as part of the solution.
Wait a minute. We went from journal guilt to the 50’s TV family to personal turmoil to Star Trek?!? Indeed. The internet offers us an endless world of information, instructions and insights at our fingertips. Yet what we really need most is space. Space to pause, reflect, sit in silence, and discover the pre-existing answers that get crowded out by the noise.
That’s why “journaling” doesn’t work. It’s just another thing to do. Another item on our list. Another source of guilt and an opportunity to disappoint ourselves and others yet again, apparently unable to do something as simple as writing words on a page. What’s wrong with me? Clearly just additional proof I’ve become the failure my parents, teachers and ex’s all anticipated.
So please don’t journal. Just sit. 5 minutes. No phone, computer or TV. No plans, steps to success, special apps, videos, podcasts, music, posture nor other distractions or details needed.
Just you… open notebook on your lap and a pen in your hand. No expectations. No agenda. No topics to cover or pages to fill. Just you… sitting in silence… letting the thoughts flow through your head with no boundaries.
Maybe you write down a word that comes to you in the silence. One word. Or maybe you just sit there and allow the page to remain blank. Maybe that word sparks an idea – something that had escaped you in the hurricane of life. Maybe that idea comes flowing out onto the page – not in traditional sentences but as a sketch, random words, or a next step toward better. Maybe it’s a question… concept… name… goal… memory… fear… solution. Or maybe nothing except a touch of transparency, acceptance, and peace in those moments… Valued, silent reflection as you feel your breathing slow and your heart rate settle for the first time in weeks with the pen never touching the paper.
After a few minutes, set them aside without concern for what or how much or even “if” there is anything on the page. You don’t care. The tools are there in service of the life you are living – not the other way around. You’ll be back tomorrow. Perhaps for 10 minutes… or 3 minutes the next time. But you’ll be there – not “to journal” but to discover. Not to complete a task but to complete yourself – to tap into more about the real you. To listen and reflect… allowing the journal to become the virtual net, gathering the answers appearing in the silence.
Ready to come home?
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