A Jung quote stuck with me while listening to a recent episode of the Startup podcast (Season 4, Ep. 3 for those curious): “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” Carl Jung
I journal to find clarity. I journal to document the passing of time. It slows time long enough for me to stand still and reflect, in this moment, contemplating where I’ve been and where I intend to go.
I journal to give myself a moment for me. Working with clients, managing multiple projects, beholden to my google calendar and slack notifications, all while attempting to develop creative strategies that will lead to measurable results – you can imagine that it’s difficult to fit in quiet moments for me.
The influences of others
My practice started informally back when I was around 10 years old. I would document stories from my life with my mother typing as I dictated. We then printed the story and I drew images to accompany the words. This was often my way of working through tough moments of teasing.
My mother also taught me to meditate at bedtime. It was a way to slow time and bring calm before sleep. In retrospect, I realize that these moments in quiet meditation taught me the power of sitting in silence, sitting with my thoughts and reflecting, and ultimately, taught me the power of my mind. Though, I doubt my 10-year-old self would have described it in the same way — I do remember enjoying the experience because it allowed me to see patterns of colour and explosions of light behind my eyelids.
My father also played a role in my practice of meditative journaling. He was a collector of significant items, surrounded by rocks and slides of photos he took while travelling. He kept a journal for 30 years. He documented daily and kept them all lined up on a bookshelf. I remember looking at this bookshelf and seeing the encyclopedia of my father’s life. They were a treasure.
Fast forward to my current journaling practice and you can see both of their influences still today. My mother taught me to use journaling to move through tough moments, my father taught me the power of documenting our fleeting days.
My Journaling Routine
My journaling exercise is a spiritual practice.
I start each new journal with a sketch of myself and a declaration of where I’m at – in the last few, I’ve written: I am me.
I journal at night and the physical set-up is always the same. The glow of my tangerine light helps me to get to that reflective headspace. I do not write every night, but on nights when I feel there is something to work through. Sometimes on nights when I want to document a small victory.
I also practice positive self talk in my journals. I don’t belittle myself. I write in an affirmative tone. I ignore if, should and would and replace them with, am, will, and when. This journal is a place for me to state my intentions, my vision and my reflections on my evolution – this is not a place to put myself down, gossip or worry about the future. However, on days when I feel that worry has taken up all my mental space, I sit with it and write about how I accept my emotions, how I am not my worry and how nothing is constant – this worry will pass. I use the moment to remind myself that I am my biggest fan – that I believe in myself. Because, truly, if I don’t, who will?
My advice to a new journaler
1)Don’t set expectations. Just write, write about anything, see where it takes you.
2) Set the tone for the moment. For me, it’s the tangerine light. This will help you work it into your routine so you can really feel the benefits.
3) Don’t feel you need to do it every day. This should be a rewarding experience, not something that you feel you need to check off a list.
4) If you’re struggling with what to write, go to some self-love. Gift yourself a compliment or two. Use the journal to celebrate what you’ve accomplished.
5) If you aren’t feeling great, lean into the worries or the stress. Write it out. Be honest and release. It’s a surprisingly rewarding way to shake it off and far more productive than a nightcap.
6) Track your visions. Practice visualizing as you journal. Where are you heading? What do you hope to gain and what do you wish to let go? I truly believe that writing these things down is the first step towards achieving them.
7) Finally, and this one is my favourite, look back every once in awhile. Reflect on what you’ve learned. Enjoy how far you’ve come.
Erin Willett is the Founder and Brand Coach at the Tap In Team in Montreal, Canada. She offers brand coaching, strategy and workshops for entrepreneurs, startups and companies facing a turning point. #TapIntoYourIdentity
Images: Ben White & Greg Rakozy