15 July, 2015

Journaling into the Pain and Doubt

Today we continue our series on journal ideas and tips. You can find the previous entries in the series here.

Why We Need to Feel the Pain

One of the hardest times to journal is when we enter a season of doubt. I am in the midst of that season where it feels like I question everything I am doing and attached to. It has been hard for me to face that, for the first time, I might be able to write full time. I am staring my dream in the face and all I want to do is run back to the career I know and hate.

So how do we do face those moments of doubt? How do we find the courage to dig deep and lean in when all we want to do it hide away?

I used to not journal during these down times. One of the biggest indicators to me that something is wrong is if there is a prolonged season of silence in my journal.

Hemingway said: write hard and clear about what hurts. And that is true. We often shy away from what makes us squirm, when really we need to dive into it.

Our culture tells us to push away what makes us uncomfortable. We distill issues down to one line; distance ourselves from anyone who disagrees. We know how to fight but not discuss. We are taught that silence is bad, self-reflection is weird and that isolation is for the socially inept.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

To know ourselves (and thereby know others) we have to be comfortable with times of pain, questions, doubt, and hurt.

How Writing Helps

What I often find to be helpful to get at what hurts or why we are doubting ourselves or a decision so much, is to just start writing.

“Today I feel really alone”

“I am really struggling with the reality of not having an income”

“My heart hurts”

“I just want to hide under the covers all day”

In journaling with the pain we consider what we are feeing. We look at our bad day of being angry or overly emotional or just wanting to isolate (or just wanting to be around people because that makes us feel good) and try to deny it. We make excuses, we numb, we distract – but the issue is still there.

But journaling the raw emotion of the moment (or painting it out, processing on a run, collaging, however journaling looks to you) can help us to get to root of what is going on. We start with the surface – the ugly outside that has us uncomfortable – and work our way down. We peel back the layers until we reach the center.

Discovering What is There

Often times what is really bothering us is something unresolved. Something we did not do, an event we did not face, a reality about ourselves that is hard to accept. But if we keep pushing these emotions down all they are going to do is resurface.

Instead if we meet them, sit with them, let them affect us and then move on – we find freedom, healing, revelation, and maybe even joy.

What I Discovered

In sitting with why being given the chance to write full time scared me, I confronted my fear of success (something a lot of us do). I want it and yet it freaks me out because I don’t know the rules here and getting published will open up another world I know nothing about.

I also came to realize I am the warden of my own prison. There is no one guarding the door. I am not shackled in. I can leave my tower of lies, doubt and negative self-talk whenever I want. It is a house of cards that crumbled revealing a departed wizard who left his lies repeating on an old boom box. But I had to sit with the discomfort of where I am for almost a week before I was given the revelation to my freedom.

Where are you right now? What is like a thorn in your side that you need to tend to but keep trying to avoid?

What do you need to write into?

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© Amanda Lunday