Journaling: Getting in the Zone

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This post is an excerpt from ‘The Ultimate Guide to Journaling’, available now through Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. With over 100 suggestions and prompts, plus everything you need to know about journaling, it’s the perfect Christmas gift – if not for someone else, then for yourself!***Although to be driven back upon oneself is an uneasy affair at best, rather like trying to cross a border with borrowed credentials, it seems to me now the one condition necessary to the beginnings of real self-respect.- Joan Didion, ‘On Self Respect’Starting and maintaining a journaling practice can be more difficult than the actual journaling itself. Clearing our minds and finding a clear mental place from which we can begin journaling when everyday demands, tasks and to-do lists are floating around our heads is challenging. Taking time to get into the ‘zone’ enables us to explore topics with more depth and focus. It also allows us to approach our minds with respect, giving our thoughts and feelings the attention they deserve.Finding the right kind of mindset is a physical and a mental process. You might want to develop a journaling ‘space’ - a particular place you reserve for your journaling sessions. Perhaps you choose to do it at your desk, in bed or in the park. Although surroundings are important, the kind of environment you choose doesn’t matter (although some privacy is helpful): the important thing is that it works for you. You might also find that your preferences change over time. Remember that you should ideally journal without any interruptions. These will distract you from focusing on your own thoughts and feelings, and prevent you from accessing the parts of yourself that usually stay hidden.Introducing a ritual can also be helpful - whether it includes meditating, switching off your phone or simply making a cup of tea before you start. If you enjoy writing somewhere outside the home, in a cafe or a library for example, your ritual can include your journey there.Perhaps you enjoy having a certain type of music on in the background as you journal. I find music with lyrics distracting as listening to the words takes my focus away from my thoughts, but I know others who also find it difficult to concentrate with silence. If you’d like background music during your journal practice, try finding some classical or ambient music. You can also download white noise ‘nature’ sounds, such as crashing waves or rain, which can be helpful for blocking out background chatter in public places.

Resistance

Getting into the journaling zone can be challenging the first few times you sit down to write. People find introspection difficult for a number of reasons: you might have a lot going on that takes your attention away from your writing, or perhaps there’s internal thoughts or emotions that part of you feels a lot of resistance to facing.An important aspect of journaling is finding peace and quiet to sit down and spend some time with ourselves. The key purpose of journaling is to be able to connect with ourselves - something which usually requires peace, quiet, and, ideally, solitude. People who might be said to have ‘extroverted’ personalities sometimes find it more difficult to introspect to begin with, as they process situations externally, not internally. An extrovert is more likely to talk as they think, while an introvert will think, then talk. Consequently, thinking then writing is a process that can come more naturally to people who process the world in an introverted way, than those who do so in an extroverted way.Journaling can also be a challenge if you’ve never tried it before. You might find it difficult to get started, maintain focus or think of something to write about. The first few times I journaled, I felt very self-conscious, and part of me was incredibly cynical about the whole exercise. It might take a while for you to feel comfortable with your practice, and this process can be uncomfortable and frustrating. But if the initial challenges can be overcome, the benefits of journaling make any interim struggle totally rewarding. After all, it’s worth some discomfort to have a better relationship with yourself and others, than to avoid the discomfort in the short-term, and never truly know yourself.If you feel resistance to journaling, try asking yourself the following questions:* How do I feel when I think of journaling?* Do I feel uncomfortable about the idea of sitting in a room alone? If so, what is the thought behind this discomfort?* What challenges do I think might come up if I start journaling?*Is there something in my current life or history that’s difficult to think about, and might contribute to resistance? If so, how could I approach this gently?*How can I show compassion and empathy for myself during this process? Can I think of any potential blocks to this compassion, and how am I going to deal with that?"The Ultimate Guide to Journaling"

Over to you:

How do you deal with resistance to journaling? Let me know in the comments below! 

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