Adopting a journaling practice can help us admit and let go of previous mistakes while setting goals for a brighter future. Growing up, many of us had a diary – you know the ones with a little lock and key – where we wrote our deepest secrets and desires. We’d document our relationship dramas, our loves and our losses. It was a place to vent, express dreams and things we’d never say aloud to others. It was a way we could communicate honestly with ourselves. Then as our lives got busier with careers, families, taking care of parents etc. we stopped. Life got in the way and sometimes we did things we weren’t proud of but swept these things under the rug and kept going.
When I began my certification courses to become a This Naked Mind life skills coach, I was given a journal. I looked at it and thought, what the hell will I do with this? The instructors taught me to use journaling to help reinterpret my life and examine my state of mind with no self-editing. Running away or avoiding problems wasn’t an option. At first it was hard to be honest with myself but as I got into it, daily journaling began to guide me inward to face everyday situations with clarity, vulnerability and courage.
One of the first steps to mindful journaling is to write a situation exactly as it happened as if taking a picture. Admit to holding certain attachments or biases or toxic beliefs. You’ll begin to cultivate the ability to be honest in a way that embraces your shortcomings and failures. You’ll notice fleeting thoughts, strong emotions and judgmental attitudes towards yourself and others. As you continue your practice, it will help you to hone and honour your feelings and let them teach you to focus in on areas that need healing or special attention. Honest writing can lead to RADICAL CHANGE.
A second powerful result of mindful journaling is being able to stop and identify the trigger of a disturbance and the thoughts or emotions that arise at that moment. We often fail to recognize when a disturbance happens, especially when we’re on autopilot and can’t stop to take inventory of the cause of complicated emotions. But when we fail to pause in a challenging situation, it’s easy to revert to old patterns and react to negative thoughts or overpowering feelings. Consistent mindful journaling helps us develop the strength to cease reacting to situations that provoke us or perhaps may lead us to drink when we don’t want to.
Finally, mindful journaling offers a tangible moment to reflect on our mistakes and set an intention to do better in the future if a similar situation arises. This final contemplation and intention-setting are crucial because they are the elements of journaling that bring self-compassion into play. I’ve learned the power of self-forgiveness and forgiving others, and I’ve made resolutions to do better next time. It’s the journaling phase that helps us admit and let go of previous mistakes while also setting goals for a brighter future!
May Your Anchor Hold