What do you avoid writing about? Why?
Now that I’ve gotten back into the swing of simple written journaling, I’m finding myself gradually peeling back the layers behind my words. I’m also on a break from work, so I have more time to really delve deep.
The other day, on my weekend getaway to the beach, I found myself carefully dancing around a few issues in my journal. Actually, no, I was flat-out avoiding them.
I wanted to write. I picked up my journal and jotted down a few straightforward lines, but I kept hovering at the surface.
Eventually, I wrote: There are some things I am avoiding talking about right now. Then, to maintain momentum, I listed them off quickly, one after the other.
And just seeing them on the page in front of me was a relief. Why I had I been so scared to write these things down? And besides, what was my journal for if not to explore and resolve problems I’m having?
I decided to be brave and venture further. It was a conscious choice – I decided I wanted to face and explore these things, even though that might feel uncomfortable.
Well, it was a good idea, because it led me to several solutions. And for those issues I didn’t manage to resolve, I certainly felt a sense of relief. There’s something about putting the scary things in our heads down in words that takes away their power.
Take some time out when you won’t be disturbed and make sure you are somewhere you feel safe.
Write at the top of the page: I don’t want to write about/I am avoiding talking about…
Take a deep breath and remind yourself that whatever emotions you feel, you can handle them. Then, let the words flow out of your pen. *
If it feels a bit daunting, you could set a timer and write only for say, 10 minutes. However, I felt the best after letting my issues reach a natural resolution in my journal. This doesn’t mean they were solved, but it means that I felt like I had naturally finished saying what I wanted to at that point. I think if I had set a timer it may have felt unresolved.
If it feels like nothing is coming, or you feel too afraid to face whatever the issue is, that is ok. You could wait for a bit, or simply leave the exercise for another day. Be kind to yourself, go gently.
I suggest you only do this exercise when you feel like you are prepared to deal with whatever comes up. For example, I wrote about my difficult things when I was away somewhere that I always feel safe, a place I go to rest and relax. I also had my best friend in the next room if I felt I needed someone further to talk to.
*Note: obviously a journal, as wonderful as it is, cannot be a replacement for a qualified mental health professional. If you are dealing with some serious trauma then please seek the appropriate professional help. Journaling can be a wonderful tool to use along with therapy but certainly cannot be a replacement for it if your situation calls for it.