“Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.” – Natalie Goldberg
I often kept a diary as a kid, like many kids I imagine. There was something almost magical about it. And I wrote in my diary religiously when I had one. It was my own very special place to write my deepest thoughts. It was a place to write about my sister or my parents…or the boy I liked at school…or my new best friend…or my best day ever. And I locked it to keep it private, hiding it in my room so no one could find it.
Interestingly, keeping a diary as a kid is in essence the same concept as journaling. We might not lock it and hide it away and we might not start our journal entries with “Dear Diary”, but journaling does give us an opportunity to write about the things that are in our hearts and on our minds, not all that unlike when we wrote in our diary as a kid. And I am noticing more and more people, adults especially, journaling these days.
That includes me of course. Journaling has helped me tremendously these past few years. It has helped me process all the things I was thinking as well as how I was feeling when I was going through my divorce. And it continues to help me as I develop new business ideas and struggle with thoughts such as am I good enough to be a writer, a blogger, a podcaster, etc.
I was fortunate enough to work with a coach who loves journaling and she gave me different journaling “exercises” to help me work through some of the things I was struggling with. And those journaling exercises have been extremely helpful on my journey to become a better version of myself. Journaling has been one of the consistent small steps on my road to big successes. My coach, mentor, and friend Katie Dalebout is so passionate about journaling and the power it holds that she wrote a book about it. Let It Out: A Journey Through Journaling actually will be released in just a few days, on April 5th, and I am super excited about it. Many of the journaling activities she did with me are in her book. I’ve been fortunate enough to see an advanced copy of the book and it is such a great tool – whether you are just getting started with journaling or you are a seasoned veteran looking for some new ways to enhance your journaling, her book is an amazing tool.
One of my absolute favorite exercises from the book is one that Katie calls the Morning Dump – the idea being that you empty out your mind in the morning. She likens it to emotional mouthwash, rinsing your mind first thing in the morning. It is a great way to get clear and be able to focus on the important tasks of the day. Some days this journaling exercise might yield a lot of material, and other days maybe not so much. Some days it might a collection of completely random thoughts and ideas while on other days it may be a litany of thoughts on one specific topic. No matter, I have found that starting out my day by clearing my mind of cluttered thoughts sets me up for a tremendously focused and productive day.
Journaling is definitely one of those activities about to which I would say the old adage “don’t knock it until you try” applies wholeheartedly. It doesn’t matter if you journal by writing with pen and paper, typing on your computer, or recording yourself on a voice dictation app. Journaling is journaling. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. It’s simply about getting your ideas out of your head. It’s processing your thoughts through words. It’s reflecting, analyzing, and affirming. There’s so much power in journaling. It may be in the format of a conversation, an affirmation, a letter, complete sentences and paragraphs, or bulleted lists. However you structure it, the important thing is that you are cultivating a relationship with your mind by journaling on a regular basis. As the title of Katie’s book suggests, through journaling we can let it all out which is a very healthy endeavor – keeping it all inside isn’t good for anyone.
“Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals and of your learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself.” – Robin S. Sharma
So whether you’re journaling for the sake of writing out your own thoughts or you are writing as a form of meditation, as Natalie Goldberg suggests in the opening quote, you are cultivating a relationship with your mind. It’s so very important and helpful to have a good relationship with your mind – you need to get in there and sort things out, clean things up, and make sense of it all. And journaling is a great way to do just that.
Please note, I do not receive any compensation for mentioning my friend Katie’s book in this blog. She is a dear friend and I truly believe her book is an amazing resource and that journaling is a great tool that all of us can use in our lives…it certainly has helped me a lot.