Okay. I know it’s scary to think about writing down in words what you are feeling; especially when what you are feeling is big, intense and complex! But, what if I told you that journaling in some form or another is the best way to unravel your feelings and calm you down? The key is learning how to slow yourself down enough to allow the thoughts that are driving the intensity higher and higher to settle. These thoughts are all about FEAR—Fear of the feelings, fear of feeling them, fear of everything that is happening to you. This fear is normal, AND you can manage it.
Have you been in this kind of a fear scenario? Have you tried deep breathing to slow yourself down? Have you tried to settle your mind with mindfulness? When you use these two tools you can begin to settle your pounding heart of fear. As you settle your mind, using the tools of journaling and memoir to write your story creating healing inside of you. Writing your story is telling your truth —what you are really feeling deep inside. You don’t have to show it to anybody except yourself. Journaling is simply writing what is coming from your mind word by word with no editing. It’s called “stream of consciousness” and it is a way of slowing you down and allowing you to notice that while you are writing you are actually feeling the feelings and allowing them to flow.
The next step is to re-read your journaling and see what themes are arising. When you do this stream-of-consciousness journaling for 7 days in a row to start, you will be able to calm yourself naturally and use your mind in a more helpful way to observe and notice what is appearing in your journal. Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way Workbook guides you through 12 weeks of how using this tool can bring you out of your fear and stuckness and into a sense of safety, identity, connection, strength, compassion, power, integrity and faith. “Too much thinking is a way of being blocked,” she says. Her book guides you to finding your creativity again —your natural creative energy to make your life work again. And so much more…I’d say it led me to self-love in a powerful way.
No matter where you are in your life, your creative energy can get blocked. I’ve been here many times and I’ve used Julia Cameron’s tools over and over again in my life. She suggests you start with her Tool 1: “Morning Pages,” three pages of longhand stream of consciousness, written first thing in the morning. My copy of this workbook is ragged and old since I discovered it when I was just 30. I learned to use this tool before I ever learned to meditate. I truly believe it helped me settle down and be able to meditate. Her Tool #2 is the Artist’s Date. This as a weekly play date with yourself! Imagine that. If you haven’t done this, you must try it. It took me awhile to actually do this because I was so good at “working on myself” that playing was almost foreign. This idea grew in me after learning to do it and led to creating my “sacred space” and a powerful self-care plan that helped me get through some of the toughest moments in my life. It helped me find self-compassion tools and learn how to find kindness as a better path than pushing myself.
I’ve used this tool in my groups over the years, and I’ve used my many journals to put together my silver lining stories (I can call my major midlife struggles “silver lining stories” now because I’ve processed them fully and see the learnings I’ve gotten from them) into the formation of my memoir which I wrote during Covid-19. You can get a signed copy of “A Midlife Voyage to Transformation” on my website here or an E-version on Amazon. I’ve written another BLOG about this writing process that you might enjoy here.
The most powerful learning from my journaling and memoir writing is how they work together to help you truly process all the many “parts” of you that are there inside feeling many different things. Sometimes we only listen to some of the voices of these “parts” and we ignore others. When we sit and feel everything as it’s brewing inside of us and set aside our fear, we are able to let it settle and it sorts itself out slowly. I do this best in meditation practice; sitting silently holding my parts and allowing them all to feel my caring and deep love for them all. For me, mindfulness is necessary component of healing with journaling. They go together to allow the deep listening to ourselves that is needed to feel the feelings fully. This deep listening becomes a love affair with ourselves; our loving friendship with ourselves that in itself is healing.
If you are writing down your feelings in some way, you are moving forward on the Midlife Voyage to Transformation through Stages 1 & 2. When you write or journal your feelings you are “naming and taming” the feelings so that they can be felt fully. When we allow our feelings to be fully processed in our bodies, then we are already healing the pain that is there. That means we have to stop thinking about them and allow them to drop down into our bodies which happens when we practice mindfulness or another spiritual practice that helps us deeply listen inside. But, if writing isn’t your thing, you can still process your feelings in your body through mindfulness.