I felt completely overwhelmed as the deadline for a huge decision rushed ominously toward me.
A whirlwind of thoughts swirled in my head and even in my gut it seemed. Pros and cons plastered my mind like windblown flyers. Yet I lacked clarity.
Finally, I took out a large sheet of drawing paper and spontaneously drew a fork in the road with 2 paths splitting from the current position. I cited every pro and con I could conceive of on each side of the drawing. When I was finished I stood back and viewed my picture. Immediately, I knew what to do.
You may not think of mind-mapping or simple, spontaneous free-form drawings as a form of journaling, but I do.
Of course, I understand journals can serve many purposes. However, for me, a journal serves as a tool to increase insight and increase objective problem-solving.
Let me share with you ways that I have found journaling helpful for me personally. These are not scientific and they may not be comprehensive. As I said, I am simply sharing my experiences.
Freestyle – I do freestyle journaling simply by writing whatever comes to mind. This is a good way to gain personal insight; I find myself writing things that I had not previously realized. It can be cathartic to vent problems. Sometimes, I find increased ability let thing go simple by writing them down.
Analytical - When I need to analyze a situation, gain insight or clarity, it helps to write about the situation in detail: my feelings, thoughts, actions, as well as actions and possible feelings and thoughts of others. New insights emerge as I write about varied aspects of a problem. When I feel overwhelmed with emotion, this helps me regain objectivity.
Problem solving – I sometimes brainstorm by writing options for intervening or taking action.
Thematic – For the entire year of 2016 I journaled periodically on this topic: how can I use each difficulty this year to grow or gain benefit from it? This year I am writing on the theme of gratefulness. Writing about all the good things that happen is scientifically known to increase sense of well-being. And for me it works!
Prayerful - Writing prayers in my journaling has been helpful for me in connecting with God and talking to God about what’s on my mind.
Increased insight into ourselves and our situations not only enhances emotional intelligence but is step one to problem solving and moving forward. My formula for increased insight:
Prayer self-reflection + feedback from others = Increasing Insight
I recommend journaling as a powerful tool for prayerful reflection and growth. Have you tried it?