Thursday, April 19, 2007

Evolution Example: Using a Journal as a Measurement Tool

Divorce can be such a roller coaster ride. The range of emotions you experience can be overwhelming at times. And it is during these times that we lose our focus on what is truly beneficial in our lives; what can heal us, give us peace, strength, and prosperity. Since the roller coaster is an internal one, it can be difficult to recognize in the moment what you are feeling and the effect is has on you. Depression, anger, resentment, pity, fear, doubt, guilt -- each of these feelings can be debilitating. Documenting your feelings in a journal can help you make sense of this.

One of the key benefits to the journal is that it is a tool to ground you in your reality and allow you to review your past as it was recorded (vs. as you remember). The benefit to this is that our memories are fallible. Words and ink, however, cannot easily be erased. Written words have power as they paint pictures, evoke emotions, and describe feelings specific to what and when they were recorded. When you read your journal entries, the words you wrote will evoke memories of how you felt when you were writing them - in a way that allows you to observe your behavior and emotions without being completely drawn into them. From this perspective, you can learn about yourself and begin to evolve your behavior in a less reactive and more empowering way. This is what the journal will provide: detached visibility into the history of our experience through divorce.

Here are a few keys to consider when starting a journal. For those of you that do write regularly, please feel free to comment on other tips and suggestions regarding journal authoring:

  • Write often and regular; consistency is key. One of the keys to journal writing is to write regularly. Now, entries do not need to be lengthy as this is not an essay content (that being said, if you like to write allot then power to you; do what you enjoy). Make sure, however, that you do write at least a few times a week. The more you author, the more you will find the journal becoming a constructive outlet for you.
  • Be purposeful and descriptive about your experiences. This is your journal, so make sure that your entries are descriptive about your feelings, emotions, and experiences. Really try to articulate what you want to say (ex. Instead of saying "I miss my son" try and express what it is that you miss, why you miss him, and how missing him makes you feel).
  • Do not judge your writing; journal entries are judgement free. Journals can be very powerful tools when the author is comfortable enough to not censor themselves with natural behaviors such as judgement, guilt, or embarrassment. You might say to yourself "I can't write that; even though its how I feel. I'm too embarrassed, or writing that would make me such a jerk." Let me tell you, as natural as it is, it is also debilitating, regressive, and pointless. No power comes from judgement of one's self. If anything, judgement takes power away from one's self and others. So, have the courage to write what you feel and do it without censoring yourself. If you are hard on yourself, learning to author without judgement will be a key event in your evolution.
  • Respect and honor your privacy; secure your journal in a safe place. If you are willing to take on writing a journal, respect and honor this decision by securing your journal in a safe place. These thoughts are yours; that being said they are important, private, and should not be viewed by prying eyes. Find a safe place to keep your journal, and only share this information with people you choose. The better the security, the more comfortable you will feel about authoring.
Looking to the future, you can use a journal as a tool to document feelings, events, and goals and then review each of these items over time and measure your progress. Personally, starting a journal was one of the key decisions I made during my divorce. It allowed me to articulate my feelings, review them and the circumstances that would trigger them, and then assess whether that behavior pattern moved my life forward or regressed it backwards. It was not always perfect, mind you, but it helps me find and maintain my life's focus when things would get out of control. Hopefully, it will do the same for you.

1 comment:

Ruth Folit said...

LifeJournal, journal software, is a perfect tool to keep a journal for any issues related to a divorce. I strongly agree with you, journal writing is a powerful tool for keeping you grounded during the divorce process.

LifeJournal, which runs on your hard drive, is program is password-protected, encrypted, so your writings are private and secure. Easy to stay organized so you can find what you are looking for immediately. You can download a free demo from www.lifejournal.com/download.