Journalling for Skeptics
I’ll be honest: I begrudgingly started journalling because my therapist told me it would organize my thoughts and help me better understand what was going on in my mind. She told me to start with gratitude—to write down everything I could think of that I was grateful for, even small things like the smell of coffee in the morning. She also said something along the lines of there being nothing more powerful than self discovery, and that journalling is like a treasure hunt but you’re looking for pieces of yourself on the pages. I rolled my eyes and went to buy a Moleskine notebook.
Tip #1: Find a pen and a journal that you love. It will help you enjoy the process.
To my surprise, as soon as I began writing in my trusty Moleskine with my Muji pen, I couldn’t stop. The sound of the ocean; the feeling of sun shining on my face; my ability to see, smell, taste; the feeling of being loved; my cat. When I finally stopped writing and started reading what I had written over the past hour, it all made sense.
Tip #2: Begin with gratitude. It’ll make starting to journal a lot less awkward.
Thanks to this idea, I now have a list I can return to whenever I am in a place of stress, sadness, or simply in need of remembering how lucky I am.
As I began writing more, I found myself divulging my deepest fears, darkest secrets; for the first time in my life, I was acknowledging them. Being able to read your thoughts gives you a completely different vantage point of your mind. I’m often in awe of the crazy shit I say to myself. Journalling empties the mind, and allows the allocation of your precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.
Tip #3: Be honest with yourself. There’s no limit, there’s no restriction—it’s just you and your thoughts.
This can admittedly be terrifying. Your mind plays tricks on you, and for me this was a way to take control of exactly that. It can also be incredibly entertaining to reread old journal entries, realizing that all of the things that seemed so huge then are actually just part of the process of you becoming more you. You get to read your life’s story, see how resilient you are, and realize that through all of the things that have happened in your life, here you are, kicking ass.
I’m definitely not a therapist, but here are a few prompts that have helped me:
- What does your ideal life look like? Be specific. What does it feel like? Where are you? Who’s there? What does it smell like? What do you hear?
- What are you most afraid of?
- What does your relationship with your ego look like?
So there it is, my brief journalling journey. What started as an eye roll completely changed my life.