Who is ready to get a little bit better?! If so, say, YES! It is really a privilege to do these blogs and I’m grateful for all you that read these regularly. I’m really grateful for each one of you. And I don’t know, I’m going on a little tangent here, but it is a hard season in our world. It has been a difficult couple of years. I don’t know when you’ll be reading this, but I’m writing this at the tail end of two pretty crazy years. We have just crossed over two years since the global pandemic began and are still dealing with mandates, economical difficulties, isolation, lots of pain, loss of people, loss of relationship. It has been a hard time; suicide rates have astronomically increased since the pandemic. I think I read that they were up 400%…
It is a tough time to say, how do I stay healthy? How do I stay mentally, emotionally, spiritually healthy? I think it is a question that a lot of us are asking: how do I protect my own mental health? How do I make sure I don’t go crazy? How do I make sure I’m okay? Not just like what people see on the outside, but how do I make sure I’m okay on the inside?
Now there’s a whole lot of answers to that question, but I want to give just one that honestly, it’s how I have protected my mental health. It has been the one habit of my life that has by far brought the most value that has protected my mental health that has created strength that has created more resilience that has helped me know myself. And that one gift that helped me protect my mental health: journaling.
That’s not the first time I’ve talked about journaling, but I feel like people are grasping for ways to make sure they’re okay. Self-care is great, you totally do that… go get a manicure, pedicure spa treatment, get a massage, go for a walk in the woods. All these things are good, but there’s so much going on in our world that we need a way to process it. And I think I’ve used this word in a previous view, but to metabolize it, take it in one word at a time, throw out the junk. And we take what can to make us stronger, better, and healthier. And for me, journaling has been that thing that allows me to process life.
I want to take some time and give you a few things. I was just having a call with a client, been working with him for a couple of years and he started journaling; super proud of him. He’s only been journaling for about a week and we’re having this conversation. I asked him if I ever walked him through some of the things he has been journaling on, and he was like, no,no, you’re never having it.
And like, I know I’ve written a book on journaling. I haven’t released it yet, but I do have a 60 journaling challenge – message me for it. Journaling is a massive tool; I’ve been doing it for about 15 years and I’ve learned a few things. As my stacks of journals have grown, my life has grown and progressed. And it is one of the most life-giving practices in my life. You can call it a habit, practice, discipline, spiritual discipline. It is all of those things for me.
I’m just going to take some time to give you several points about why I journal and what the benefits have been for me. Some of you will resonate with this and others might be intimidated by journaling. And I think I will do another blog later on about how to overcome that intimidation. But let’s start here with the why of journaling. I know everyone doesn’t have my belief system, but I’ll say it this way, God will speak to you.
It is the number one reason for why I journal because I know if I create that space, God’s going to show up. If I consistently create a space and I’m praying prayers, reading my Bible, asking God questions; God shows up and He speaks to me. Now you might say: God of the universe, Spirit, Creator… I don’t know what you might say BUT here’s the thing a lot of people want God to speak to them. BUT we don’t make the space for him to speak to us. There’s a beautiful story in Exodus that talks about how Moses would go out to this place and meet with God, everyday. It was like one friend meeting with another; face to face. And the reason that God spoke is because Moses showed up everyday and if he wouldn’t have that opportunity to have that kind of conversation.
So I am telling you, if you feel like God’s been quiet, maybe you feel abandoned, maybe you are a little pissed at God… I get it, there’s been some hard stuff. Maybe you are questioning faith all together, make space and you can do that in a journal. There are a lot of different ways, but personally I haven’t found a better way yet. If you have one, mention it in the comments!
So number one, God will speak and number two… because if you don’t you are going to lose and forget special moments and memories in your life. My daughter is 15 years old and you could ask me how I felt the days after she was born…. and I could tell verbatim because I have captured that moment and written it down in my journal. I can capture significant moments when God spoke to me. And I’ll never forget when I was in Israel and had this life-defining moment and I can convey it to you in detail. I’ve retold the story a bunch, but it is also because I had to read it again and again because I get foggy on the details.
Your brain is finite. Some of yall are getting a bit older and realizing that it is getting more and more finite. It has limited capacity and I don’t care how great of a memory you have; your memory could be an iron vault… BUT at some point you start forgetting things. Journaling helps me to expand my capacity to capture and remember the most important moments in my life and I am grateful for that because I can go back and read through journals a decade ago and recall memories and feel them all over again. Oftentimes I get lessons from those. So number two, journaling expands your capacity.
And three, it will help you process life in real time; revealing your blind spots, making you healthier mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
It will help you process in real time, this is actually something I shared with one of my clients this week. And listen I know some of you are thinking, I don’t need to write it down BUT what if you didn’t need a therapist, what if you didn’t need to call your best friend to come over? What IF you could just get there on your own and increase your clarity? Like I said, I was talking with a client and he and his wife were headed to a funeral this week and there are going to be all of these family dynamics mixed with grief and other things. And they were supposed to get away on their own before this happened and so this ended up being their getaway… and I was like go to your journal and start processing this event in real time. Ask questions: What do I think about this? How is it making me feel? Why do I feel that way? Am I okay with feeling that way? What is my intention going to this event? How do I want to show up? And this process is huge, it has a massive impact and benefits to you and your mental health.
That is huge, processing to ensure your mental health; to prevent exploding in anger which is one of the biggest components. Or prevent depression, suicidality… and I’m not talking about imbalances but I am saying there are times when people are not given the place to vent, a way to process, a way to metabolize.
I had a wise mentor tell me once, If there is not a vent at the top, there’s going to be a blowout at the bottom.
Meaning not having a vent is like a pressure cooker. If life is happening, happening and happening… it just builds up and if there is no way to release the pressure… bad things are going to happen. And for me, journaling is it – it helps process life in real time.
Journaling also helps with revealing your blind spots. And I am sure a couple of you reading this are like, I don’t have any blind spots and the first one is thinking you are perfect enough to not have any blind spots. The work never stops. Journaling would reveal those blind spots, the things you cannot see. Here’s a great example, you sit down and you start writing my wife is wrong because she did this and this and I’m pissed because …. but eventually you realize that it is all blame, you’re not taking responsibility right now and didn’t realize until it was all written down. And it is revealed because you can see it there in the black and white of the pages.
There are times when I will take a journal and i’ll go back and read it and see those seasons where I got into a funk, what caused the funk and it reveals those cycles and those blind spots.
Lastly, it will make you healthier. You need a safe space for you. You deserve that. If you need therapy, you need therapy. If you need a coach, then you need a coach. You might need someone to talk to… but journaling, you don’t have to pay an hourly rate. You can do it anytime and it is free. You can do it everyday.
And that’s what I do – every single morning. It is my special set aside time for me that builds me up in all of these things. I can be having a tough week, a busy week, a hard week and when I journal I get that safe space to see myself, to process life as it is happening. This helps keep me mentally healthy and protect my mental health, my spiritual health, my relationship, and everything. And you need some way of processing life as you are going through it.
Here’s another one, it is funny BUT true. Journaling will keep you from saying things you regret. And I have said this before, if you are married… start journaling because it will keep you from sleeping on the couch, it will keep you from getting in arguments, it will keep you from getting into trouble and saying stupid stuff. I cannot tell you the number of times that I am pissed off at my wife and I journal about it and I just vent and process. And then I come around again and I am like, Crap, she is right again. And I was wrong. And now I’ve got to ask for forgiveness and change my behavior. And it keeps me from saying that stuff out loud. And maybe because of journaling I am doing better with this, it hasn’t happened in a while. And it is so funny because when I get in a certain head space, she just says Go, go journal. Take your time. Because she knows it makes me healthier because I am able to process stuff instead of taking it out on her.
I’ll give you a few other ones for once you develop the habit of journaling… it becomes a source of wisdom and encouragement.Now if you are praying and you’re hearing from God, capture that because you’re expanding your capacity. And when you read stuff from five years ago, a month ago… There are nuggets of wisdom and encouragement.
Journaling can also help you define your identity and refine your calling. If you really want to know who you are, what you are called to do, why you are on this planet… JOURNAL.
I will tell you, I remember early on in my very first journal… and I had this list of who God has made me to be and there was a list of seven or eight things. and literally within a couple of years, I remember looking at that list and then narrowing it down to three things. And I haven’t shared this in a long time, but it is crazy how it still works. I’m creative, I’m a leader, and I’m a communicator. And that;s what I was 12 years ago, 15 years ago and now to this day that’s what I live into being. One of the other words on that list was collaborator and that makes sense because I love collaborating with the right people.
And here’s another point to prove that it is going to protect your mental health. There is evidence found in the amazing leaders, successful people, world changers that so many of them share the habit of journaling. If you don’t believe me or don’t want to take my word for it, go ahead and look up biographies of people who have journaled: Benjamin Franklin, Barack Obama, and so many other influential leaders in the world.
Journaling is a tool that brings health, brings clarity, brings strength, that creates greater impact through our lives. And with this season of our world that we are in, it is vital to protect our own mental health and our own space. Hey, you’ve tried everything else… Why not try journaling? Just give it a shot and see what happens. I just wanted to give you some practical reasons and a nudge to start journaling.
I hope this encourages you… because this is where you should go out there and give your greatness to the world because somebody needs what is on the inside of you. Don’t hold back, go and give it away!! I love you guys, have a great week!