“This craziness must end. No more clinking vodka bottles under the car seat.” (Journal entry: August 7, 1983)
This Journal entry didn’t immediately change my life. The clinking under my car seat didn’t stop the next day, or even the next year. What did develop was a daily habit of writing about my thoughts and feeling
I journaled long before I became aware of the research and application behind it. I was simply jotting down short bursts of emotion. My scribblings had little to do with where I was or what I was doing. I just wrote about what felt good in my life, along with what didn’t and what I might do about it.
My initial journaling helped me accept professional help and move forward. I learned to quit blaming others for my poor choices. In my awkward phrases, I uncovered creative energy, experienced joy and rediscovered treasures that had lain dormant.
Today, my journal entries would still make little sense to others. However, looking back through them, I can map a clear path of emotional growth. Reaching decades into the past, I see how even short passages and a dearth of relevancy led to big results. I inched forward, slipped back, and moved forward again. Change was, and still is, both painful and exhilarating, often at the same time. And my story is unfinished, which in itself is an acknowledged blessing.
Eventually, I came to appreciate people like Ira Progoff, who greatly expand the application and benefits of journaling. Through journaling, Progoff teaches that no matter how blind or self-destructive we are to the process, our lives are moving in one direction or another. James Pennebaker and others (in the book, The Writing Cure) also have researched the power of writing for behavior change.
If you’ve ever been interested in journaling, I encourage you to invest a few minutes each day to the practice. Try it for two weeks and see what you think.
A few suggestions:
1. Start today. Take a notebook, put the date down and write what comes to mind. Some research shows the advantages of pen and paper, but if you prefer a keyboard, go for it.
2. Don’t concentrate on writing imaginatively or beautifully. Let your feelings, beliefs and ideas flow.
3. Don’t rethink or rewrite. Just add.
4. If nothing comes to you, jot down why you think nothing is coming to you.
5. Looking for more structure? Google Ira Progoff.
At the end of two weeks, read your entries aloud to yourself. You might be surprised to see what patterns develop. Simple journaling can help remove the clink from under a car seat and bring serenity to each day.