Hands-down one of the greatest tools I've used to heal is also one of the simplest.
I know, I know, it can seems like a pain. It's hard to carve out time.
Maybe you've tried and stopped. Maybe you didn't see any benefit. Or didn't believe writing could even be of any benefit.
Well, there's plenty of research and literature out on the Googles about why it's great for our mental health to journal.
People, mental health matters. It's EVERYTHING. If we don't have our mental health, we don't have much. Or what we do have, doesn't matter much! So taking the TIME to write plain makes sense. It's like exercise - but you don't have to shower after.
Okay, so here's my contribution to the benefits or journaling, based on my own experience.
1: Writing it all out lets me see that I am not my brain. It's so crazy to me that our brains can work against us. I mean, they're ours, shouldn't they be on our side? But the truth is that our brain has all kind of crazy thoughts floating around in it. And the traitor part of our brain just accepts it all when left unsupervised. It's like our brain is a nightclub and we are the bouncer. Without that bouncer - the real us - there's no telling what's going on in that nightclub of a brain of ours!
2: Dumping out all of it - the good, bad, ugly - allows me to get it out and move on. I literally have told myself, "there it is, now go to bed - you're done with it for now." As a former sleep-deprived ruminator, I can tell you this works! And we don't have to worry about wearing out the people around us or that they'll think we're crazy. The paper doesn't care how many times we write about the same crazy thing. No need to censor any of it!
3: When there is crazy - and there always is - it gives me clarity and perspective. Reading over what I've written can be surprising. Lots of times I didn't even know what was going on in my brain until I started writing it all out. And it can be hilarious. Because my gosh, there are some truly ridiculous things that go through my head! Reading it back allows me to question the crazy - is this really who I want to be? What I want to think? And then I can adjust accordingly. It's a great reminder too of #1, that I am not my brain.
4: The act of writing shows me what I'm avoiding, what I don't want to deal with. Oh, I'm so on to myself with this one. I'll write along, everything's fine, and then suddenly, I have an immediate and desperate urge to check my phone. Or pet my dog, or reorganize some part of my desk. And it's all because I've hit on something tough. The very thing that if I go forward and take on, I'll grow. But growth means new territory for my brain, which makes it scary. Brains don't like that - they want predictable and safe. So that's okay, it's just good to know. And to be able to make a choice. Writing teaches me about myself in ways beyond just the words I'm putting on the paper.
There's more that could be said, but honestly, I keep journaling simple. I miss days here and there, but I generally try to keep it a relatively quick and straightforward practice.
What I can tell you - maybe the most important thing I can say - is that writing has been a game-changer. I resisted taking the time. I allowed myself to be confused about where to start and what to say. But the difference it's made in my growth can't be emphasized enough.
When I miss a couple of days, there's a difference in me. I'm not as focused. I'm more apt to get negative and confused and overwhelmed.
Estrangement is so hard. It's confusing and overwhelming. Writing it out is an easy way to start to heal, or to progress further and evolve. In my next post, I'll share my process and give a couple of examples. For now, consider this option! It's free - you already have what you'll need to start.