I’ve found that routinely taking the time to review my journals has been a great practice for elevating my personal growth and development. Re-reading old journals was one of the many benefits I enjoyed from writing my book.
Looking back over that many years and at a specific part of my journey
enabled me to see patterns emerge that were hiding right below the surface.
As I was explaining this phenomena to a close friend she uttered in response, “It’s like stones of remembrance.”
“Stones of what?” I inquired, completely lost as to how she could draw such a connection between stones and journals.
She went on to explain that there’s a story in the bible about imbuing stones with memories of the divine. And that the stones are there to trigger our memories so we can recall what it is like to experience transcendence (to be fair, that’s my interpretation of what she said).
That might sound lofty and yet, that’s exactly what my journals have become to me over the years…they are my stones of rememberance. Don’t get me wrong, not everything I write is divinely inspired. The vast majority of it is really rather mundane.
Flannery O’Conner said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”
My journals have these nuggets of insight because writing stream of consciousness helps me tease apart the thoughts and feelings that swirl around my mind like a cacophony of noise. Writing helps me to make sense of what’s really going on in the moment. It gives me permission and space to stop reacting and start being discerning.
Buried within their pages, my journals offer insights about me no one else in the world can give. These are the recurring thoughts, the stories I tell myself about the world and how I’m doing. Once I can literally see these stories in front of me I have the power to re-write them.
After all, the Buddha teaches “What you think, you become!”
Some of my thoughts are helpful, inspired even. But many of my thoughts are downright hurtful. My journal helps me to discern between the voice of my inner critic (the hurtful ones) and the wisdom of my inner genius (my inspired thoughts, the ideas I am a steward of). As a result I’m much more particular about which thoughts I pay attention to and which ones I cast anew.
I’ve been able to use my journaling practice as a tool to be more discerning because I have invested time in re-reading my old journals. Go head and give it a try. I know it can be difficult, and there might be some things you’d really rather forget. But trust me, as long as you’re prepared for the journey it’s totally worth it. Check out these four steps for reviewing your journal and take your practice to the next level!
Four Steps for Reviewing Your Journal
- Set your intentions for reviewing your journals
- Find a quiet, uninterrupted time and place
- Give yourself permission to skip parts of your journal that don’t feel good to revisit
- Start a blank page in your current journal to write milestones & observations from your review
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