Effective Journaling . . . Separate FACT from OPINION!

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     You need not be a writer, creative genius, recording secretary, or shrink to keep an effective, meaningful journal of your ongoing thoughts and experiences.  In fact, the further away you are from a writing career, the more productive and rewarding the practice can be.  (Most writers think too much!) 

     Having set a few thousand students on journaling paths, I can assure you that very few (mental) self-discipline activities can measure up to the rate of return on a journaling investment.  In just a few short weeks, you’ll find yourself producing great new self-awareness levels of satisfaction and personal “aha’s.”  

     Oh, but yes. you do have to be willing to commit to yourself, to keep a daily record of what you see, hear, touch, smell, taste and think about.  Get the blank book, and pen, but realize that that’s not enough.  You need to reach agreement with yourself to make a dated entry of some kind (ANY kind) every single day. 

     I have collected many years worth of personal journals, and picking them up to review from time to time never fails to amaze and amuse me.  I value some of them even more than the classics in my library! 

     I used to tell reluctant students if they couldn’t think of a word to say on any given day, draw a picture, doodle, paste a photo or article or ad on the page . . . or spit on it!  What’s important is to record SOMEthing. 

     One device that helps prompt regular entries, is –after putting the date at the top, which is a truly essential ingredient– to write “WHAT HAPPENED?” across the top of the lefthand facing page and “HOW I FELT?” across the top of the righthand facing page. 

     Besides serving to sort of force your hand, the distinction between the two headings forces your mind to separate fact from opinion.  Keep WHAT HAPPENED? descriptions objective, unemotional, straightforward reportings of what you saw or heard actually take place.  No judgements.  No opinions.  No feelings.  Then put all the good stuff you want to editorialize and offer opinions about under the HOW I FELT? heading.  (Oh, if only major media “reporters” could stick to this formula!)

     Okay, so what happens with WHAT HAPPENED?  You start to see and experience people and events in a more rational light.  With HOW I FELT?, you begin to corral your emotions and gain insights about how much your feelings tend to drive the ways you behave and respond to others, and to day-to-day circumstances. 

     To put a spin on your HOW I FELT? entries, try pretending tomorrow is your last day alive and that no one will ever see your comments, which will inspire you to dig deeper into your emotions.  The more you can learn about what makes you tick, the better you will be at understanding and dealing with yourself and others. 

     Remember that your journal is your journal and not something to be left around for sharing unless that’s really what you want to do.  Give it a try.  What have you got to lose?  Ten minutes?  Some ink and paper?               halalpiar 

One comment so far

One Comment to “Effective Journaling . . . Separate FACT from OPINION!”

  1. Adam McKnighton 28 Oct 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Well written article, Hal. Adam

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