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Feeling Wonky? Get out your good old-fashioned journal. Here’s how it can help.

photo by Rubin Starset
photo by Rubin Starset

Sometimes when I’m feeling all wonky—you know off in some way—even when I can’t quite identify it—the best trick I have is getting out my good old-fashioned journal. You know the notebook with the lines and a pen? Not my computer. Not the kind of “journal” where I am typing. But the kind where I’m actually using the brute force my whole hand to express words on a page. At least that’s the way it feels sometimes.

It’s funny how different writing words on a page feels to me. Because I do a lot of writing on my computer, it’s actually started to feel a little old-fashioned. You know, old-fashioned in a good way. Like that slower, more grounded aspect of old-fashioned.

I was sitting with my journal, which is really just a notebook with a fancier cover on it, pushing words out through my pen the other day when I realized what a calming affect it had. Even before I had anything pertinent to say. Even while I was still writing, what I call the “blah blah blah” part of journaling. Mine usually starts with, “I’m in this location. My kids are doing this thing (sleeping, or with my husband, or the babysitter)”… I know it’s totally uninteresting, but I can’t help it, that’s just where I always start.

After that, especially when I’m feeling wonky, I start asking myself questions. “What is going on with me?” “What do I think is making me feel like this?” I rarely write the questions, at least in the beginning. I ask them to myself in my mind, and just start penning the answers to the page.

Sometimes just answering those questions can be enough. Providing witness to whatever is actually arising in me, whatever it is that I’m truly feeling, instead of just having a vague notion while still trying to move about my day and answer its demands. Other times it is the asking that leads me to something bigger and better. The notion of why I feel this way leads to a clue about my life, something that I have the power to change. I realize either, “Oh that’s what needs fixing—I’ll do it differently next time,” or “Wow, I’d rather not have that attitude,” and provide myself an antidote in the form of a sentence I can sink my mind into. Or I think, “How do I fix that?” “How can I get what I need here?”

I’m a huge fan of open-ended questions. In my bookGetting Answers, I describe them as beacons. It’s the open-ended questions that let the Universe know, you are looking for an answer to this conundrum. You want to know how to best fix this situation, instead of just thinking about it not being right. You’re sending out your beacon of light to the Universe, asking for a fix. So my journaling often leads me there—to what I call “the real questions” the ones I don’t know the answer to, but ones that if I did would make my life better.

Your journaling of course can and will lead you to wherever you need it to go. Even just being a witness to yourself can be a great balm.  So, if you’re feeling a little off, try it, sometimes the best medicine is just taking a few minutes to put pen to the page and acknowledging or discovering where you are.

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