If you’re anything like me, you have books all over your home and journals that are both completely full and half empty. Books have always been a part of my life, whether they’ve been authored by someone I adore or are empty for me to fill. Now, at almost 29 years old, I have a collection of my personal history that is tangible proof of my singular evolution. It has been interesting and, most certainly, eye-opening to read my past and be reminded of how I’ve been filling my cup throughout the years.
The oldest journal currently in my possession dates back to May 2006, when I was 17. Back then, I documented much more about my day-to-day and incorporated a lot of detail. Like, for example, word for word dialogue. Today, however, I am writing more about goals, intentions and steps I look forward to taking. I also often write about the moments when I achieve something I’ve been working towards. It is humbling and scary to know that I am leaving such an intimate history of myself. I’ve wondered many times if I should keep the journals from my younger years, because I’m extremely vulnerable in them. The idea of someone reading them, even after I’m dead, makes me cringe. I have considered organizing a burning ceremony in which I give my past good energy while they disappear. What has stopped me from doing this has been the fact that my writing is, essentially, historical documentation that I was a living, breathing human being who existed and moved in this world.
We have learned so much from those who left work behind that without them, we surely wouldn’t have been able to put so many historical pieces together. I often wonder about my position within that realm; how relevant is my story to it? How am I, ultimately, contributing to it?
All of these sentiments have led me to wondering about the relevance in documenting our lives. Other than human history, what do we need it for? Most importantly, how does it satisfy and positively contribute to our evolution as individuals?
According to PsychCentral.com:
The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you. Begin journaling and begin experiencing these benefits:
- Clarify your thoughts and feelings. Do you ever seem all jumbled up inside, unsure of what you want or feel? Taking a few minutes to jot down your thoughts and emotions (no editing!) will quickly get you in touch with your internal world.
- Know yourself better. By writing routinely you will get to know what makes you feel happy and confident. You will also become clear about situations and people who are toxic for you — important information for your emotional well-being.
- Reduce stress. Writing about anger, sadness and other painful emotions helps to release the intensity of these feelings. By doing so you will feel calmer and better able to stay in the present.
- Solve problems more effectively. Typically we problem solve from a left-brained, analytical perspective. But sometimes the answer can only be found by engaging right-brained creativity and intuition. Writing unlocks these other capabilities, and affords the opportunity for unexpected solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.
- Resolve disagreements with others. Writing about misunderstandings rather than stewing over them will help you to understand another’s point of view. And you just may come up with a sensible resolution to the conflict.
In addition to all of these wonderful benefits, keeping a journal allows you to track patterns, trends and improvement and growth over time. When current circumstances appear insurmountable, you will be able to look back on previous dilemmas that you have since resolved.
What are you documenting?