I've read enough to know that journaling is pretty effective. I also consider myself a writer. So you can imagine the appeal journaling might have on someone that craves self awareness and creative expression. Alas...
My brain reacts strongly, in a really negative way, to something that needs routine or consistency to be effective, much like how a two year old feels about bedtime. Let me share a little glimpse into my previous forays with journaling. This will be in three acts.
Act 1: The Great Journaling Resolution
Once upon a time in the whimsical land of Neurodivergentville, I, your intrepid writer blogger instagrammer, embarked on a grand adventure. Armed with a brand-new journal, that I purchased only after spending at least three hours researching the pros and cons of the bullet journal, one hundred dollars worth of colored pens and an enthusiasm rivaling a caffeinated squirrel, I solemnly declared, "This is the year I become the Shakespeare of my own thoughts!"
And sometimes I would have thoughts. Capital T thoughts. Like one time I wrote "So maybe I am not really alone after all." Like holy bejesus that shit is good. And heavy. I only got there through journaling. And I wanted more. Like everyday.
Act 2: The Unpredictable Plot Twists
Little did I know that my neurodivergent brain didn't really understand that by setting up that exact same structure another day I could possibly do it again. No, my brain was basically like wow that was unexpected and totally unrepeatable. A unicorn moment, a miracle from which we have no control. Sure it appreciated the dopamine rush that only comes from allowing myself to actually feel something. My ego feeling kind of awesome for having such a profound thought, that seemed at least sort of healing adjacent. But that wasn't enough for habit, consistency or routine. And soon the unwritten entries and blank pages began to mock me. My perfectionism wouldn't allow myself to go back to something I had already failed out.
Act 3: So I changed the plan
I realized, it wasn't about the journal, the words or even the outcome. And in a moment of clarity I challenged myself. Did I need to completely wipe out something that I had experienced working, even if I couldn't be perfect at it. Was there still space where it could fit in my life? Was there a third way?
And when I changed the purpose from the journal, to the gift of time, things changed. My inner child has a lot of memories of loneliness. Of wanting to talk to my mom but her being busy. Or knowing that I was talking too much. I just wanted a little more attention and a little more time.
And now, at 42 years old, I get to give that to myself and to her. The space to be, without stimulation or input. I began to wake up early when the house was still dark and I could appreciate the morning light as it made its way across the floor. I would make cacao, instead of coffee. I would light incense and candles. Roll out my yoga mat. And have pencils, pens, markers or paint. I'd look around at this sacred and holy moment I made, just for me. And I would go to church.
And instead of telling my brain I needed to journal. I would ask my mind and body what it needed. Sometimes I would record dreams of the night before. I study plant medicine and at times I would paint or drawer a particular plant I was learning about. Sometimes I would lay on my yoga mat. Sometimes I was sure my inner child was taking the morning. And other times I was met with my Highest Self. It was the only time of my day that did n
ot have conditions or expectations. It was full of compassion and presence.
I follow this routine now about three times a week. I had to adjust it, as I was waking up too early and finding it hard to stay awake at night. And you will do the same. You will invite this time into your life. And you may be surprised the ways that your Inner Child or your Self choose to fill that time.
In the end, I embraced the inconsistency. I may not be the daily diarist I aspired to be, but I am the accidental author of something that works so much better.
So, my fellow adventurers in the land of sporadic journaling, I hope you find the practice that works the best for you, calls you back each and every time and always brings you closer to home.