A friend of mine told me she’s throwing her journals into a fire and burning them. Many people do this, but the question is: do you read them before burning, or just drop them?
I started keeping a journal when I was 15. I had them all in a giant footlocker that I lugged with me from my childhood home to every place I ever lived. My story literally became my “baggage” and I carried it like Sisyphus dragging his rock up a hill. Trust me, the story can get heavy AF. I finally threw a bonfire party and burned them all when I was 45.
Before the Fire Ceremony, I read them all. It was painful and at times embarrassing, but if you plan to burn your old journals I highly recommend reading them first. What I noticed was that I’d more or less been writing the same tired story since I was 15 years old. The only thing that changed as I matured was the way I described things, but it was all the same stuff. My language and processing skills grew fancier, and my way of dancing around the issues grew more sophisticated, but the bottom line was this: I was no longer writing my own narrative; my narrative was writing me.
I discovered old emotional patterns that just found newer and fancier ways to express themselves, new targets to blame for things. I identified how stuck I was in a closed loop, a chronic tendency to FEEL a certain way and then project those feelings onto new people/places/things.
I saw that every issue I struggled with at 15 found new targets to manifest in when I was 25, 35, or 45. Didn’t matter where I went, I recreated the same storylines in each new place. I was literally re-authoring the same narrative everywhere but tricking myself into believing people, places and things were happening to me.
If you’re a journaler, its recommended that you broaden the focus. Free-associative reflective journaling can be useful in releasing steam and examining things as they unfold. However, it’s even more potent to incorporate some guided narrative to support yourself in getting in the driver’s seat. The following are some potent questions to incorporate in your journaling practice:
- What am I excited about today?
- What’s possible for me today?
- What am I grateful for? Name 5 specific things.
- What’s my intention today?
- What do I chose to create and how do I intend to show up today?
- Every now and then, go ahead and burn them. It’s important not to let our story become a burden to carry. Become the author of your own narrative, dare to create something new and uncharted with your life.
Journaling is a powerful tool until it becomes a way to reinforce old mental/emotional patterns. The more you write about it, the more you feed it. The more real it becomes until it becomes the default in your life.
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