A human being thinks around 60 to 70k thoughts in a day. And if that’s not enough the thoughts from the previous day roll on to the next day and the next and the next…you get the drift. 90 percent of the thoughts are recycled from the previous day. And though I maybe poor at Math, this piece of statistic reveals that only 10 percent of the thoughts accessed in a day will be new and out of that many will be reactionary, and that leaves a miniscule space for creative ones. Another piece of info that blew my mind is that the brain is designed to scan the environment for threat 3 times in a second…Phew that’s a lot of thinking. No wonder an intelligent someone quipped, “I think therefore I am”. As an aside I don’t believe him.
What I realized during my journey and my clients is that journaling thoughts, feelings and reflections can help free the mind of over thinking and the process is hugely healing. That it is a scientifically proven and a researched topic just helps build credibility, in case you don’t believe me ! In any case don’t even believe the studies, you know they study everything, believe your experience. Experiment in the laboratory of your life and arrive to your own conclusion.
However, just to support you in this experiment, I can share that many people feel resistance, that sounds like, “I don’t have time”, “I cant write”, “I am too stressed” and many other creative ones. So if you are saying any of these, don’t worry, you are on the right track. Atleast you are “thinking” about journaling.
I recommend that you fix a time in the day, before sleeping or before dinner or any thing that suits you and sit down with a paper and pen or on your computer and set aside undisturbed 15 minutes. Yes that’s all the time you need. This much time toh I waste on thinking which Netflix show I should watch or what I should wear. Having sat down just start to write and allow those thoughts or feelings to show up on the paper. Don’t stop to read, edit or make it sound good. Just keep pounding those fingers on the keyboard or keep running scratching on the paper. No one is going to read it, and that allows for a lot of freedom. As the alarm goes off in 15 minutes, simply stop. Most of the times when I am finished I just tear the paper off and that act in itself becomes cathartic for me.
My prompt to me more often than not is “what am I feeling right now?” it gives me a free reign to just connect with my emotions, acknowledge and release them. This form of expressive writing frees you up from the nagging thoughts and lets go of the emotions that many time are sucking up your energy. It clears the mind of all the clouds of worries and anxieties, relieves daily stress and allows the access to blue sky thinking.
Now, there will be times you may think, but I am not feeling anything right now. Well, to make you excuse free, here are some prompts that you can choose on those days. Now Don’t start to over think which prompt to pick up. Just pick up the one that calls you out the most on that particular day and just begin journaling. Its one of the best self care activities and to me feels like an energetic shower.
- What am I feeling right now?
- What was the biggest challenge I faced today?
- What are the things I can today acknowledge myself for?
- Write a letter: to your younger self, to that someone who you want to tell 1000 things but cant, to the one in heaven you loved dearly and were never able to tell them.
- What improves if I overthink or worry
- The worst that could happen in a context
- The best that could happen in a context
There is no “right” way of writing. Just like there is no right way that you should think, feel or not. This is your sacred space. This is a space that allows you to be most open and authentic. Just do it, I say and know that the taste of the pudding is in eating it.
PS: I was speaking to my coachee on her journaling progress and she said she is now also journaling on words that pop in her head, for example air. I was intrigued and wanted to know how she was using a prompt as creative and equally banal as “air” to journal. Her reply elated and surprised me. She wrote all what she associated with air vis-à-vis her emotional state. And what she got was that the air is heavy when she is upset and light when she is happy and that next time she encounters a difficult emotion she breathes in lightness to feel light. And I thought it was so wonderful.
Actually you need a prompt till you don’t. So carry on and keep releasing and acknowledging the emotions and/or reflecting. The idea is to live and die empty.