Saturday, April 8, 2017

To Journal Or Not To Journal That Is The Question

To Journal is to begin to explore our creativity by telling our story either directly or indirectly¾first to ourselves.  If you are anything like me my story was unbelievable to me for the longest time, and not until I wrote it out in all its many flavors, twists and turns could I come to terms with the various dimensions of it. It was full of places and things I had diminished and underscored and flatly refused to believe or even consider as dirty laundry or unnecessary baggage.  But I began to see me for who I was, not what I had done and more importantly not for what had happened to me.
The process of journal keeping is the telling of our story as it occurs.  It is current with the here and now.  It is also a record of us, of our life and times, our thoughts, activities and occurrences, so we can begin to see just how we perceive things. Maybe come to notice the tint of our own rose colored glasses. 
To make journaling a part of recovery keeps us focused on us. Most of us are well trained to focus on everything other then ourselves. Now it is time to turn the tables and come to learn about somebody we would dearly want to come to learn to love.
Focusing on us is the secret ingredient that helps us build an identity. Journal writing gives us insights into our motivations and our deeper and sometimes darker drives.  It is the telling of a story but in terms of the scripts or patterns, whether functional or dysfunc­tional.  It describes both the contents and the container and if you are really paying close attention to the process you might begin to notice the third and most important element, ‘the point of observation’ or how it is that I choose to look at something.  Sometimes called ‘my point of view’ by those who are rushing past this place in their psyche and are hoping not to notice too much too soon.
Keeping a journal is also a record of your recovery, a chroni­cle of both your exploration and your growth.  Know that exploration and growth are separate. Many don’t know that and they make assumptions about what they are doing and what they think they are accomplishing based purely on their own interpretation of how and what they think they have done in the exploration department. So many obstacles here with Ego, simply note them and carry on. 
Many of us have the knack of looking at life and seeing its problems and knowing that these problems need to be solved¾the problem is on the grander scale we assume ‘solved’ by us.  It is the ‘but how do we do it’ that keeps most of us baffled for most of our lives.  Many of us should begin to ask ‘am I the one who should be doing this’, instead of ‘but how . . . ’.
It’s a fact; we can get so caught up in us depending upon ourselves, that we become lost in the very process we are attempting to find relief in.  We stall and begin to think that we haven't done what we have etc … basically beat ourselves up for not accomplishing X, Y or Z.  Which, by the way, is simply an old pattern we picked up someplace along the route. 
The journal permits us to develop safe hindsight¾periodic looks over the shoulder into and from whence we came.  Nice to know where the landmines were and if we are paying close attention, might be an indicator where the next bunch might be.
Oh yes, this stuff has a slippery slope and the process of backsliding is ever-present. Most of us have slid a time or two.  But one of the major functions of the journal is to provide a record as we move along a progression of experiences towards a place of self-care and our true identity. 
Sometimes it helps to share parts of your journal, this can be helpful but it isn’t necessary.  However, it is fundamental to know that the journal is reserved for just you and no one else.  No outside influences to peaking over your shoulder, because when we are writing only for ourselves we tend not to edit to impress others.  But if there is that over the shoulder pressure of ‘what will they think’ then I will curb my thoughts to conform to how I imagine ‘they’ want me to think or say or remember. 
Remember No People Pleasing 
This is just for you and you can share if you want¾only if you want to. 
What I always found helpful for me was to share my conclusions or the insights gained.  The results of ‘seeing into my blind spots’ rather then the contents of my blind spots.
Blind Spots[1]
Working the journal creates the opportunity to begin to notice the following:
1.   We, have blind spots in our psyche;
2.   There is something hiding in those blind spots;
3.   And whatever is in those blind spots may be a major contributing factor to our experiencing life as unpleasant. 
So if it is true that the hidden demons are running the show, then it extends naturally to the assumption that any or all hope of change and/or recovery is lost on my own unhealthy dependence upon what I know.  Here I am back to me being my own worst enemy no matter how hard I try.  That is what I learned at The Valley[2].  I learned that I was my own worst enemy no matter how hard I tried and no matter how hard I wanted to change, I defeated myself with great regularity.  Thus the short sermon on the previous page about how if you are depending on you to get you out of this you are in trouble big time.  If you or I cannot see into our own blind spot(s), it follows that we cannot see the real monster(s) that control our lives.
Journals can include anything you think is relevant or anything that comes off the top of your head, at anytime, your writing, drawings, questions, feelings, doodling, fan­tasies, ideas and lists.  It is not homework, although most of us start there, it is you finally giving freedom to your own natural creativity to get busy and start creating.
Imagine that you are in the process of discovering you.
Journal writing forces us to face ourselves; to look at our selections, clarify feelings, our thoughts and ideas.  It brings us to the point where we can examine our choices and create options; it is the beginning of us building an intimate relationship … you with you … a conversation that leads to increased awareness.  Our journal becomes a reflection of our thought talk.

[1] A Step Four and Five Guide NDT 1998 Victoria BC
[2] Twin Valleys School Wardsville Ont – Director of Student Services 1979/1980

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