This is How to Untangle Your Mind With a Journal
Forget all the rules
I was about sixteen when I realised that my mind is a ball of wool and anxiety is the cat that plays with it until it is an unrecognisable mess.
The cat ran rampant and for many years I was overwhelmed by my tangled, convoluted thoughts. I didn't understand why certain situations made me feel the way I did. The details were so confused and complicated that I simply couldn't process them on my own.
I'd tried to keep a journal in the past but never really stuck with it. I ran out of things to write or I forgot or it just didn't seem to help. It took me a few years to figure out the system that works for me, the exact recipe for detangling my mind.
When I began using my journal to its full potential, a whole new world opened up to me. My journal became not only instrumental in ironing out the daily kinks in my psyche, but it also led me to unpack and heal other wounds hiding in my mind. Through journaling, I came to understand the ways in which my childhood shaped me. I worked to tear myself free from the grips of the most harmful thinking patterns.
It may surprise you to hear that the change is not about creating new rules, but about giving up on them all together. The trick is to transform your journal into your soul's safe space. A realm of complete transparency and absolutely zero expectations.
Only When I Need
I used to take part in daily journaling challenges and give up a few days in. I would sit down to write, get stuck and just end up discussing the tasks of the day and complaining about the weather. It felt like a waste of time, there was no substance.
Gradually and almost by accident, I ditched the routine. Now I only journal when I need and want to. Not 'every night at 9pm' or 'every Sunday morning'. If I feel the knots in my mind beginning to pull tight, I sit myself down and get to work detangling with my pen.
I believe that habitual writing is key when it comes to creative expression. I have always found that my creative output is at its greatest when I'm working to a routine.
But journaling is different. I don't journal to craft new wonders, but to take the contents of my mind, tip it out on the floor and organise it like a Pinterest mum so that I can finally sleep.
Only as Much as I Need
There is only one metric I use to measure my journal entries; until the knot is gone. I write until my pen has done its work in my soul and I feel at peace again.
Some entries are three or four pages long while others are barely a paragraph. Sometimes my entry is a single thought I want to record. One in particular is just a few lines of original song lyrics.
Exactly What I Need
My journals are one hundred percent me. They are entirely honest and raw, I hold nothing back. If I would be happy for my family to read it, it's not honest enough.
I used to get nervous about writing certain things in my journal. What if someone found it? What if they decided to have a browse? I would even worry about what might happen if I died and my journals were left behind to be discovered by others.
In the end, I learned not to care. For the magic to work, there could be no fear in my writing. And I wanted that magic.
I've considered destroying my journals once I filled them up. Ultimately, the wonder of reading through old entries far outweighs the risk of privacy invasion. Those recorded memories, those snapshots of my soul are too precious to destroy.
That's the essence of my journal practice. It is entirely open, entirely uninhibited. I weld my journal however I chose. It is the master key that unlocks any door in my mind. Untangles any cluster of knots and kinks. It is whatever I need it to be.
The secret is not in the consistency or the content. It's in the freedom.
This story was originally published on Medium. You can find it here.