Originally posted on March 30, 2018
By Scott Waletzko
Mental Spring Cleaning Week 4 – Journal
From the beginning, Maple’s purpose has been to enable people to get in touch with what’s within them. It’s for life-long learners, for people striving to understand their Self; for thinkers, writers, and for students. We built it to help people organize their important ideas, so they can start to make sense of it all.
To see the forest as well as the trees, as it were.
As Maple’s lead developer I tend to focus mostly on what’s still left to build, but my March Maple Challenge let me take a step back and truly appreciate what we’ve already got. During this fourth and final week of the exercise it became very clear to me that Maple does everything we set out to create, and more.
This week’s new (to me) feature was a daily Journal. My initial expectation was that it would be an empty trial. I guess like many people I thought I was too cool and put together to journal. However, right from the first entry I could tell it was an important building block towards self-learning. It wasn’t just helpful, but again, the action of writing and getting in touch with my thoughts was cathartic.
I didn’t set any goals for myself, didn’t plan to write a certain number of times a day or give myself a minimum number of words to write; I just let it go. Like with the Stress Tracker, I made the effort not to judge my thoughts or writing, I just wrote. To my surprise, each entry pretty much wrote itself. Each time my entry ended up more like a virtual therapy session than a log of my daily activity. As the week went on, I noticed that by combining different elements of what Maple does, each became more effective at helping me draw parallels between the thoughts, dreams, and ideas I’ve been experiencing.
Because I had already been tracking my sleep and dreams I was able to parlay the topics of my dreams into my daily journal, drawing connections between what my subconscious was trying to tell me and my daily happenings. Journaling opened up topics for Reflection that I may not have otherwise been aware of, and let me circle around to the things that are important to me right now. And while tracking my stress I vented about the superficial things that bothered me, which in turn freed me up to Journal about deeper issues in my life (rather than just documenting this and that other thing that got under my skin that day).
All of this led me to some insights and threads of thought that I’ll continue to follow in the coming weeks and months. I have no doubt that those will unravel into more threads, and those into more as I reverse-weave the tapestry of my Self. Because all of that is mine to pursue I won’t get into details, but I would like to share two insights from this month’s experience that may help you on your own personal journey.
The first is that the path of introspection and insight is a never-ending journey. You don’t ever get THERE, but you keep moving in that direction – no matter how many times THERE seems to be somewhere other than where you thought it was. The closer you get, the better you feel and more put together things seem to be. Until they don’t, and then you keep going some more.
The second is that it all takes work. Not so much in terms of time, it’s more of an emotional effort. There’s no app you can download or pill you can take that will automatically bring you to a better understanding of yourself, you must roll up your sleeves and do it yourself.
This work can be challenging, and sometimes it’s not what we think we want to be doing with our time, but my experience taught me that it’s instantly rewarding. Not in the same way that funny cat videos are – those give you a rush of endorphins that fade away and leave you wanting more. The work we do to find our Selves is rewarding in a more subtle, cathartic, and long-lasting way.
I challenge each of you to try your own month-long self-exploration experiment. You may find (like I did) that it’s a door to a new window into your Self.
Thanks to everyone who followed me on my journey this month, and as always, Happy Mapling!!!
A note from Chris: I’ve mentioned before that I have journaled since middle school. When we launched Maple, I experienced the process of journaling differently and began a daily practice of journaling gratitude. Those two things alone have shifted my mindset from ‘it’s a good thing to do when I can’ to ‘it’s a part of every day’.
Reading Scott’s encounter with journaling reminded me why I originally gravitated to it – it’s a way to get clarity, develop self-understanding and connect ideas and insights to actions. Essentially, I use it to explore. Sometimes I feel a particular emotion but I can’t get at what is triggering it, I recognize a belief (or fear) but I’m unclear on where it started, or I have an inkling of a bigger thought and I can’t quite frame it fully. These are instances when I find myself needing to be entirely real and honest with myself – which happens in the safely and privacy of my journal.
I agree with Scott, initially it feels like real work. I know I have made it a habit to push the bigger concepts and truths to the side, in some cases even hiding them from myself. The work comes in breaking that habit and allowing what is naturally bubbling to find its way to the surface. With practice, it gets easier to enable these Ah Ha moments by simply letting my thoughts present themselves unfiltered. This is a moment to allow ourselves that authenticity so we can choose our path forward.
I’m often asked how to get started with a journaling habit. Do I have any tips? My recommendation is to follow Scott’s example on three fronts:
- Journal daily – no need to get caught up in word counts, how long or a certain time unless those motivate you. Simply make it a point to write each and every day.
- Release judgement – this is a tool for you. No one is evaluating your writing style, grammar, or content, so don’t you do it either. Allow it to be and go where it needs to.
- Any topic works – every entry isn’t a breakthrough. Let the insights appear on their own. If you need a starting point, use a prompt (like the Reflection Packages) or things you’ve been thinking about: updating your phone, what’s for dinner, or your dreams.
One last offer, if this sounds good but you are thinking you need support, try the Maple 30 Day Challenge. It will drop useful info, tips and prompts right into your inbox each morning. Sign up with a friend and do the challenge together. As always if you have questions or need guidance, add a comment, email or contact us – we’re happy to help!
#Journal #SelfCare #Autheticity #PersonalGrowth