“Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself.”
― Pat Conroy
Something that really amazes me is my own lack of ability to see just how jumbled up and contradictory my own thoughts and emotions are.
Whether I’m thinking about something that’s work-related, just moving through my ordinary associations as I take a walk, or I’m feeling some negative emotion, I don’t see that my thoughts aren’t linear or cohesive. To be honest, a lot of the time I’m not even sure my thoughts really make sense.
I feel like they make sense while they’re going through me, but I might find that two hours later I’m believing in the exact opposite of what I was initially thinking – and that opposite belief also makes complete sense in the moment I’m thinking it.
There is a lot in me that I don’t quite know how to express in words when I speak to myself in my head, or even when I’m speaking to others out loud.
There is a lot in me that I don’t really understand. I see and feel the affect of what I’m experiencing, but I don’t really know what it is or how I got there.
Most of the time I just make up a story about it in my head and forget until I experience the same feelings or thoughts again.
The predicament I explained above is a part of the human experience. Whether or not you’re ready to admit it, we all know what it means to feel like we can’t express ourselves and that we don’t really understand what we’re experiencing in a given moment.
As a result of not understanding what we’re experiencing, we often (almost always) make up a story about it in our heads and label that story as the absolute truth of the experience.
Here’s what I mean:
Let’s say you tell a friend a secret that you don’t want anybody else to know and later you find out that this friend whom you trust told the secret to someone else.
The ordinary response to experiencing that situation might be a feeling of betrayal. It might be a feeling that tells you that should have known better than to trust this friend. You might not care at all.
Depending on what you end up experiencing, thoughts will arise and TELL YOU exactly what happened as if it was the absolute truth. This truth becomes your reality and you act in accordance with it.
Isn’t it weird that we might all respond just a little bit differently to exact situation described above.
There will be almost as many different stories about it that we label as “truth” as there are people living on this planet.
Here’s where journaling comes in.
Journaling on a daily basis helps you get OUT of your head by forcing you to put one voice to everything you’re experiencing rather than just believing whatever comes to mind.
It forces you to ACTIVELY think about how you feel rather than simply having responsive thoughts labeling the experience for you.
A good way to understand this is thinking about the difference between the thoughts that we think when we’re really motivated and the thoughts that we think when we’re not as motivated. Depending on our mood, or what we’re experiencing, the thoughts we have are different. Even in relation to the same external event.
When we’re motivated, we’ll have thoughts that push us to do whatever it is we’re motivated to accomplish. When we’re not feeling that source of excitement to accomplish something, our thoughts come in and justify why its okay to hold off on the action right now.
Achieving a greater understanding of yourself, what you experience on a daily basis, and how to deal with the circumstances that surround your life right now is dramatically heightened by taking the time to find one voice and putting that voice on paper.
These are the incidental benefits you’ll see if you journal consistently:
So how do you go actually go about making a habit out of writing every single day?
Altering our habits is really, really difficult. It takes time, it takes patience, and it takes truly wanting to get something out of it.
Step 1: Why are you making the decision to write every day?
When we don’t know the reasons we want to make positive changes in our lives, we tend to quickly stop taking the positive actions we decided to take. The WHY, the REASON you want to start writing is the emotional fuel you need to actually stick to doing it consistently.
Answer these questions:
(a) Why do I want to start writing?
(b) What positive affects will writing have on my life if I do it consistently for 30 days?
(c) What’s stopping me from writing every day right now?
(d) What are the main excuses I make for not writing when I want to, and how can I defeat those excuses?
Step 2: Choose a time
*To effectively add a habit,*consistency is crucial.
If you really want to start writing every day, you need to choose a time of day you’ll set aside for your journaling habit. Your mind and body need to adapt in such a way that when the hour you usually write comes around, you’re already prepared for it, you’re looking forward to it.
It isn’t important when you decide, as long as you make a definitive determination about when you know you have the time on most days, and actually stick to it.
BUT, any time you can’t get to writing at the hour you decide, don’t make it an excuse not to do your writing. You have to have an all or nothing mentality. You have to make the decision that nothing is going to stop you from doing your habit every day.
Action steps to take:
Writing is really important to better living. I hope this hit you all in the right spot and that you’re motivated to get going.
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