Some people are writers; others are talkers. My friend, Kim, for example, calls to “process”. She just has to talk out whatever it is that is on her mind. I don’t really have to say anything; I certainly don’t feel any pressure to “fix” whatever her quandary is; I just have to be there for her as she talks. She talks, and talks, and talks… and when she’s done, she knows exactly what she needs to do. Not me. I answer my own questions via writing.
It has to do with how we get our energy. Meyers – Briggs refers to extroverts and introverts saying that extroverts are energized by output – expressing themselves to others; introverts on the other hand, are energized by time alone. Writers focus energy inward whereas talkers focus their energy outward.
My contention is that although we tend toward one or the other, we all have some of both in us. Therefore, no matter whether you think of yourself as a writer or not, there is valuable significance to the process of writing. Even if you prefer to talk, you will benefit from journaling. And if you don’t find it very easy to talk openly about stuff but also don’t think you are a writer, I say, give it a try. Once you give in to the safety of writing, you will discover that you have more to say than time to say it! You may also discover that writing is easy and surprisingly rewarding. You may even discover that you love it. At the very least, you will discover you.
In the beginning however, you may feel awkward and you may not know what to write. Do it anyway. Stick with it. My reasoning follows. There are many advantages and rewards to journaling. The five top reasons I have to encourage you to journal are: 1) clear your thinking; 2) solve problems and make decisions; 3) vent; 4) dream; and 5) be.
Clear your Thinking
Writing will take all that jumbled up stuff in your head and line it up clearly for you to look at. You can get an objective perspective of your thoughts (i.e., the stuff going on in your life) by writing it out. Think of it as a head-cleansing. You know how exhilarating it is to take a good, long shower; you feel renewed by being clean. A colon cleanse or an enema will do the same thing – make you feel relieved and cleaned out inside. Well, writing does the same thing for your head. Like a sudden rainstorm I the summer that moves the stagnant hair and brings new energy when the sun returns and everyone comes back out of their houses, writing in a journal gives that same renewed, fresh energy to your whole environment. No matter how you write, the result is that you sort out the things in your head and the result of that is a wonderful renewal.
Solve Problems and Make Decisions
Clearer thinking leads to new insights in problem-solving. Writing in a journal is a thinking process that helps you make decisions. When you write, things appear on the page that you never knew were inside of you. Answers come.
The other day I was standing in the checkout at Wal-Mart and saw a child throwing a fit. She was crying very loudly and pulling away from her mother. She was angry because the things in her world just weren’t going the way she’d intended them to go. I thought to myself, I know exactly how she feels! For a moment, I fantasized how it would be if I could just kick and scream like that in public. Hmmmm.
Anyway, as adults we can’t get away with that. What we do instead is vent. We vent to our friends, family members, co-workers, and even to strangers. And it’s not pretty. If you do that very often, you become known as a negative, toxic force that no one wants to be around. Venting is ugly and it is an imposition to those caught in your path. I could go on and on about all the things that are “wrong” with venting, but the truth is that venting is also very important. It is not possible to think good things all the time. “Shit happens” as we say, and as a result, we have negative, nasty thoughts at times. Yes, we do feel just like that child I saw in Wal-Mart. It is inevitable. If you vent in a journal however, and contain yourself in public, you do not risk offending anyone and yet, you get to say all those great comebacks that you can never think of at the time of an encounter.
When you are finished venting in your journal, you are ready to go back into the world with a genuine smile on your face. There is a time for everything, even venting. Venting belongs in a journal, not in Wal-Mart.
When I was younger, I believed that all my dreams could and would come true. As I’ve come into myself as a middle-aged woman however, I’ve come to realize that some dreams will never be made manifest in my life. To quote my dear friend Randy, “I’m used to disappointment.” In fact, I think I’ve become an expert at balancing all the disappointments in life with hope.
I attribute that to the recording of my dreams in my journals. I am not talking about the visions we see when we are sleeping – I record those, too. I am talking about the desires we have for our lives. By writing out the dreams you have for your life, you are able to move through life more closely attuned to intention. I may never have all the money to fulfill my philanthropic dreams, for example, but because I write them out in my journals, my giving spirit is more spontaneous than I would be otherwise and I am able to recognize small opportunities in my daily living to be the kind of person I dream of being.
When you write out your dreams, you align both your conscious and sub-conscious thinking with your intentions and you will find that your actions move you closer to your dreams.
I think also helps with self awareness and self acceptance because you appreciate your efforts and you recognize the value of your choices.
Journaling gives you time with you. We are so trained by society to be doers that we have lost the ability to simply be. Being is absolutely necessary and yet, so many of us don’t know how to do that. When you write in a journal, you are practicing the act of simply being.