Write It Down

Why the simple act of journaling can free your mind and build sustainable self-awareness

By Amanda Garrigus

What do you want? It’s a simple question, however, answering it can be anything but. Oh sure, we all want ice cream, and chocolate, and maybe a trip to Paris. I mean, don’t we? Still, if you’re like most busy people, finding a deep, meaningful answer to this common query can be daunting. But why?

Remember when your mom, or in my case, grandmother, would say, “Quiet! It’s so noisy in here I can’t hear myself think,” and then roll their eyes in some combination of frustration and despair? Please tell me I’m not alone in this. At the time I just thought the disease of aging was rearing its ugly head, but today, I see that they were onto something. When our lives are full of noise, our all-important inner voice can get drowned out. How do we push aside the clutter to get a clearer picture of our heart’s true desire? Sometimes the only way to uncover our truth, is to put pen to paper.

Good journaling is best done the old school way. Call it a diary, or a journal, or just a notepad but make sure you have one. Then get your hands on a pen (you remember those, right?), and carve out the time to sit quietly and give that inner voice a chance at center stage. The act of moving your hand across the page will open a channel to that little voice inside you that has all the answers. Write in an unstructured, stream of consciousness way, and do it quickly. No ruminating over what to write, no judgement, and no need for well-crafted paragraphs or even proper grammar. Just let it flow.

When you begin, you can write about the first thing that comes to your mind. How much you’re enjoying the breeze on your skin, or how disappointed you were about something that happened at work. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with the idea of journaling, you can set some parameters and even ask yourself the golden question: What do I want? Roll out lists of things big and small, no holds barred.

If you’re honest with yourself on the page, you’ll begin to see your life through a more crystal-clear lens. It’s freeing and revealing, and it feels great. It’s also good for you. According to a recent article in Psych Central, “University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker contends that regular journaling strengthens immune cells…” I don’t know about you, but I’ll take whatever leg up I can get on looking and feeling my best.

The more regularly you write down your innermost thoughts, the more you’ll be rewarded with a grounded understanding of how you really feel and where you really want to go. Fifteen to twenty minutes, once a day is ideal, but if you can’t devote that much time, not to worry! Any amount of journaling is worth it. Now get writing and start building a greater sense of self-awareness. Your dreams are waiting.

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