Last year I set a goal to start writing in my journal daily. Again. My interest in this goal was sparked (again) when I read the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown. He waxes poetic about the benefits of journal writing, and he offers a piece of advice to those wanting to start a practice of writing each day:
Only allow yourselves to write one sentence a day in your journal for the first week or so. Just one! Once the one-sentence-a-day goal becomes a habit, slowly increase your writing.
This helps prevent the burnout that inevitably happens when you ambitiously write three pages on the first day and then hopelessly quit on day two, realizing you’ll never be able to dedicate that much time to writing every day. And, I mean, if you can’t write three pages a day, there’s no point in writing anything at all, right?
As I’ve strived to write daily in my journal, I have come up with three reasons why it’s important to write regularly.
- You can tell your journal anything and she won’t judge you.
My journal has become my sounding board. My therapist. The bestie I can count on any time I need to bear my soul. My journal is an excellent listener and I never need to worry about filtering what I tell her. She knows exactly what’s in my heart—the good, the bad, and even the ugly.
For me, writing in my journal is less about recording the happenings of the day (I mean, in this day and age of iPhones, the pictures can tell those stories, right?) and more about getting out on paper the thoughts that are swirling around in my brain. I’ve often been shocked at what comes out on paper when I take the time to dump it all out without filtering or editing my thoughts.
“No wonder I’m feeling so terrible! Look at what I’m thinking about myself and others!”
“Of course I’m feeling overwhelmed and exhausted! Anyone would with thoughts like these!”
- Getting your thoughts out of your brain and onto paper can be all sorts of enlightening.
Just yesterday I was feeling less than stellar, so I pulled out my petite little journal (it fits right in my purse) and started writing whatever came to my mind—no filtering, no judging, just writing and writing and writing. Wouldn’t you know, I was ever so surprised to discover some feelings of jealousy and hurt. I didn’t even know they were there because I kept pushing them away almost instantly and automatically anytime I felt them come up.
Why was I doing that?
Because “good moms” aren’t supposed to feel resentment. “Caring sisters” aren’t supposed to feel jealous.
But guess what? Everyone feels resentment from time to time. And everyone feels jealousy. It doesn’t make us horrible, it makes us human.
- Once you see clearly what you are thinking, you can decide if your thoughts are helping or hurting you.
Mama, if they’re hurting you, you don’t have to think them anymore! Did you know that? You are allowed to believe whatever you want.
When I discovered I was feeling jealous, I dug deeper into what thoughts were causing it and I realized that they weren’t helping me be my best self. So I found some new empowering thoughts to replace them. I rewrote the story in my brain. That is a powerful exercise.
And the feelings of resentment? Well, I’m still working on those. But I’m getting closer each day to appreciating the fact that I have a broom to clean with and a floor that needs sweeping. Because it makes living in the crumb factory that is my kitchen floor a happier place to be. And it’s possible to love even the messy parts of motherhood.
Journaling is like many other things in life. It’s the small and simple efforts that, over time, make a big difference. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you have to write a novel or record every detail in order to get started. Just start with one sentence. That’s it. You’ll be amazed at the pages you can fill over time as you create a habit of writing regularly.
Bright Side Mamas has created a free printable that will help you get your thoughts out on paper and process your thoughts and feelings. Click here if you’d like to sign up!
QUESTION: Do you have a journal or place to record your thoughts? In what ways do you believe journaling helps you understand yourself more completely?
CHALLENGE: Write in your journal every day for the next week and only allow yourself one sentence. Leave yourself wanting to write more!
Edited by Kimberly Price and Nollie Haws.
Image provided by the author.