About this Journaling Series by Eric Maisel

Inspired by Contributors to The Great Book of Journaling

This series of guest blog posts on various topics related to journaling, was created for a series called “Journaling for Men” that appears on the Good Men Project blog. It is designed to help everyone, and especially men who may be unfamiliar with journaling, learn how daily journaling can help them improve their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It brings together ideas from two of Eric’s recent books, Redesign Your Mind, in which I describe how you can upgrade and redesign “the room that is your mind,” and our co-edited book The Great Book of Journaling, in which we gathered contributions from scores of journal experts and enthusiasts. Please enjoy this series.

We hope that you’ll begin to include journaling as part of your daily self-awareness and self-care program.

One of the loveliest aspects of journaling is that it couldn’t be simpler. You have a thought and you get it down in writing. You have a feeling and you express it. What blissful simplicity! In his chapter in The Great Book of Journaling, Jacob Nordby presents three questions that you can endeavor to answer that aid the journaling process and that promote growth and healing. Jacob explained:

3 Steps and 3 Healing Questions

  1. Get a notepad and pen.
  2. Set aside ten minutes in a quiet place (if you feel like writing longer, please do—but ten minutes is a great way to start).
  3. Write the answers to the following three questions:

The practice of paying attention to your needs, acknowledging them, and meeting them as quickly as possible, is surprisingly therapeutic. It is an important part of the process of healing the connection to your inner creative self.

~Jacob Nordby

Question One:

“What am I feeling right now?”

Let yourself describe any feelings you have—including frustration with the process of writing anything down.

This is where you get to be terribly honest. Don’t try to be lofty, profound, wise, or kind. Let anything come out that wants to come out. If you feel bored, anxious, tired, afraid, curious, happy, sad … say so. Ask yourself why and let the answers come out on the page.

I encourage you to include physical sensations you’re having—describe any discomforts or pain, talk about the small things in your immediate environment that feel good. For example, “I feel my butt nestled solidly in the chair here at Neckar Coffee Shop. My head aches a little because I stayed up too late last night, but the steam from my coffee is a promise that something hot and good will help …”

Most of us are so disconnected from our physical selves that writing a few lines about what’s going on around us can help create a more grounded sense.

Remember, nothing is too small or silly to write about. The only thing that matters is being honest with yourself.

Maybe you’re wrestling with a tough relationship issue—a hurting friendship or romantic partnership, something with a parent or sibling, a worry about one of your children, or something interpersonal at work. Talk about it. Especially describe how you feel about it.

Question Two:

“What do I need right now?”

Much like the first question, the only thing that matters now is that you let yourself tell the truth. Many of us are not in the habit of saying—or even knowing—our needs. This often started in early childhood, when a parent or caregiver (probably unintentionally) communicated to our young psyches that our needs were unimportant or even wrong. This tells a developing mind that having needs isn’t safe and it can take some time and dedicated effort to dismantle the old beliefs.

Begin to answer the question, “What do I need right now?” Start small and be honest. It might be something as simple as, “I need to pee.” I suggest that you jump up and do that first before anything else happens. The practice of paying attention to your needs, acknowledging them, and meeting them as quickly as possible, is surprisingly therapeutic. It is an important part of the process of healing the connection to your inner creative self.

Questions One and Two are meant to get you going and it doesn’t matter where you start. Psychologically speaking, all roads can lead you home to yourself. Expressing the smallest, most shallow-seeming anxiety or desire can be a thread you pull that unravels a knotty issue in your life.

 Question Three:

“What would I love?”

This is a magical question in that it has the power to shift you into a state of possibility and imagination. I use it often in my personal practice and ask it at some point in nearly every personal guidance session with my clients.

 I encourage you to pick one of the items that is a challenge from Questions One or Two and ask this question. Write the answers without judgment or skepticism. If your mind is like mine, it might say something like, “Well of course you’d love to give yourself a break and take a vacation to somewhere warm but how’s that going to happen when your kids need rides to college and you have metric tons of work to do. Get real.”

 The point of this question is to simply allow yourself to state what you would love in any given situation.

 As you write the words, “I would love …” and follow with a statement of an outcome or feeling you desire, you activate your imagination in a positive way.

 Question Three is an invitation to let yourself retrain your imagination so that your powerful subconscious mind can begin to turn your choices, behavior, and focus toward what you would love.

 You can ask Question Three in a different way, too: “How would I love to feel?” This is often very helpful when you’re in a whirlwind of confusion, anxiety, or insecurity. “How would I love to feel?” Maybe the answer is, “I would love to feel calm and centered right now.” You can follow up with, “How would that feel in my body?” This can lead to taking small actions such as breathing deeply, stretching, and reminding yourself of the truth: “I am safe. I am lovable. I am resourceful.” I have often found that this one question can move me into a different state and help me see the next step forward, rather than remain frozen in anxiety or confusion.

These three questions are simple and straightforward—and profound. Try asking them and answering them and see what happens!

Get your copy of The Great Book of Journaling: How Journal Writing Can Support a Life of Wellness, Creativity, Meaning and Purpose

Discover many different journaling techniques, prompts, and activities that can support you to enrich your life and health with journaling.

Buy now and be inspired to journal!

Great Book of Journaling

About the Authors

This blog article is inspired and informed by Jacob Nordy’s chapter entitled Three Healing Questions in The Great Book of Journaling.

Jacob Nordby is a writer living in Boise, Idaho. You might find him on
a trail in the nearby foothills or writing away in the quietest corner of a
coffee shop downtown. He is the author of several books, including his
latest release, The Creative Cure: How Finding and Freeing Your Inner Artist
Can Heal Your Life.
Learn more about his books, speaking, online courses, and creative
guidance sessions by visiting www.jacobnordby.com

About the Author: Eric Maisel

Eric Maisel is the author of 50+ books. He is a retired family therapist, active creativity coach, lead editor for the Ethics International Press Critical Psychology and Critical Psychiatry series, and featured blogger for Psychology Today, where his “Rethinking Mental Health” blog has received 3,000,000+ views.

You can learn more about Eric Maisel on his website.>>>