In the midst of life’s chaos and challenges, discover the power of journaling as a tool for self-discovery and resilience. Join us on a journey into the world of journaling, where the written word becomes a source of clarity and strength. Discover how this simple practice can help you not only survive but thrive in turbulent times.
We all have one foot in a fairy tale, and the other in the abyssPaulo Coelho
Being a human ain’t for the faint of heart.
My inbox and cell phone texts right now are filled with friends and clients reaching out with SOS messages. Stories of struggle, fear, overwhelm. Challenges of all stripes, great and small.
Yesterday morning, a call came in, and I could feel its urgency. I answered before the second ring.
I stood under a canopy of orange, red, and yellow leaves. Steeped in a perfume of pine needles. The idyllic fall scene was a sharp contrast to the anguish emanating from my cell phone.
“I’m so tired of this,” she said. “This ongoing battle. The not knowing. Everything feels so up in the air. When is it going to get easier?”
I walked over to the edge of the lake and sat on a damp hemlock trunk, a tree that had been weakened by an infestation of the woolly adelgid and ultimately brought down from a quick-moving, July storm.
I dug my foot into the colorful carpet of leaves, moving small piles into circles.
“It’s not,” I said.
“Hang on a second,” she said. “You are my go-to call when things are at their worst. My injection of optimism. What do you mean things are not going to get better?!”
“Circumstances around us will always pelt us with this and that,” I said. “That’s the human experience. Things are not going to get easier or calm down. Where we have our power, though, is in our own evolution. Our ability to take things in, process, and choose empowered responses. We get better, and in turn, life does, too.”
I watched a tiny red maple leaf float past. An impossibly small and delicate vessel on the lake’s surface, at the mercy of the breeze. It appeared as defenseless as my friend had been feeling. Powerless and without agency.
My friend cleared her throat and said, “I’ll buy that. What do I need to do to get better?”
The maple leaf vessel had made its way to the edge of the lake where the tall reeds and cattails grew. It tucked itself amongst the slender blades and anchored. It felt like victory.
I rose from the trunk and felt my damp jeans stuck to the back of my thighs. I brushed left and right to clear whatever had adhered to me and began walking again.
“How’s your journaling practice?” I asked.
The Power of Journaling
I know what you’re thinking. A journal versus the daily tempests of life? How is that even a fair fight? What is the power of journaling?
Our brains want to immediately scoff at the concept of journaling, railing against the idea that writing in a notebook delivers us calm and fosters our ability to navigate storms. If you can find your way to suspending disbelief, even for just a few minutes, I can promise you rich rewards and sweet solace.
The following is an excerpt from my book, BUOYANT:
“A journal is where we work things out. Where we air our frustrations, worry, anger, pain. A place where we celebrate, exalt, express our joy. It is a protected zone where we can take risks, try on ideas, and search for connections and solutions. A journal is our atlas to the world of possibility. When we have a lock on a state of possibility, we find opportunities everywhere.
Our journal can be a luxurious, leather-bound volume, a traveler’s notebook, a sketchbook, or a spiral-bound notebook with yellowed pages and curling corners, purchased from a discount store. It can be loose sheets of paper, gathered from here and there, kept inside a folder. Our journal is whatever we want it be, in whatever form we prefer. The key is that we use it, that we show up and do the work.
In our journal, we work through our reluctance. We find our way out of being stuck, hacking through mental weeds. Once we finally begin to let go, we revel in the freedom a journal affords us. We can return to our natural state of being playful, willing to not know….
Your journal is your place to try on new ideas, take risks, make mistakes, think things through, navigate uncertainty, record insights and intuition, sketch to see, paste images of things that bring you joy, and purge your brain of tumbling thoughts that drain your focus and energy. Your journal is your portal of discovery.”
There are few things as sweet as running ribbons of ink onto a page and feeling your energy shift from being anxious to calm. Page by page, we witness solutions present themselvesas the power of journaling becomes clear. We enjoy new ways of interpreting old wounds, ancient scars.
We transmute pain into power and step into clarity with conviction. Little by little, we find our way through the tunnels in the cave. We become bold and willing. We stand up for ourselves and our own happiness, refusing to be relegated to living small. That is the power of journaling.
So exactly how does one journal? How do we tap into the power of journaling? There must be a right way and a wrong way, right? Some kind of perfect approach?
Unlocking the Power
Let’s disavow any kind of notion that there is a secret way to do journaling right. See that thought for what it is: a brain construct designed to keep us stuck.
There are a million possible approaches to journaling. I love author Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages method: writing three pages, longhand, into a journal each morning, effectively dumping the contents of my fevered brain onto the page.
You could choose something else. The method doesn’t matter. Communing with your brain and soul each day is where the magic happens. Dumping the trash from our minds so that we can clear the slate and sort out ideas, next moves.
If you want to see the power of journaling in another way, check out my other blog post: Creating Our Future By Journaling.
Disbelieve the edgy thoughts that hold us in their grasp.
Take a look at your bookshelf or desk. Most likely, there’s an abandoned journal or a notebook tucked away. In a moment of conviction, you had purchased it, determined to finally give this journaling thing a go. Maybe discover the power of journaling for yourself.
But then, for whatever reason, you stopped yourself.
Gather your conviction once more. This time, though, discard any rules you might have around “what counts” as journaling. Simply start writing. Be honest. Say it all.
Notice how the very act of getting going and staying going holds a certain Magic. You create the power of journaling.
Beneath this tiniest pile of kindling, you have placed a tender spark made from the flint of keeping a promise to yourself. Lean in and blow. Refill your lungs by keeping your hand moving across the page. Lean into this newfound power of journaling you have discovered.