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.
Tips for Dealing with Resistance to Journaling
We often resist doing what we know might be valuable to do. It might be exercise, it might be dieting, it might be reducing screen time, it might be meditating … and it might be journaling. In her chapter in The Great Book of Journaling, Liz Crocker shares a technique for dealing with all that resistance. You put your “reason” for not journaling on the table—and then you consciously rebut it. Here’s how it works.
Over the years, many friends have earnestly extolled the virtues of journaling, but I’ve always been ready with various reasons why I don’t journal. However, even as defensive justifications have come out of my mouth, voices in my head simultaneously presented counter arguments. Welcome to my internal debate!
Typical Reasons Not to Keep a Journal…Along with Rebuttals
Reason 1: “I don’t have time.”
Rebuttal: What you are really saying is that you don’t want to commit to taking time to sit down and write about your thoughts and feelings. It’s not that your head is empty – in fact, it’s likely there’s always chatter in your head as you have a shower, walk, take the bus, drive your car. Might you want to capture any of that? Could you possibly sort out that complex problem if you jotted down pros and cons? Journaling doesn’t have to be about the activities of your life – its value rests more with the process of embracing and reflecting on the patterns of thought and emotions that are constantly looping around within you.
Reason 2: “I have beautiful journals just waiting for me but I don’t want to ruin them.”
For example, a slim, lime green one with pages of faint graph paper teases me with its gold-lettered question on the cover – ‘What kind of human do you wanna be?’ What if I start to answer that question and say nothing interesting or make a spelling mistake or use a blotchy pen?”
Rebuttal: Stop fussing over what to write in. It’s just a journal and will be wasted if it lies empty. If you fear your words won’t be worthy, use scraps of paper as drafts to transcribe later or just write on sticky notes and place them on a wall or inside your still-perfect journal on those beautiful graph paper pages. And spelling mistakes? Well, one of the advantages of writing just for yourself is not having to care about spelling!
Reason 3: “If I really tell my truth on paper, especially about what I think or feel about others, I’m afraid my words will be found. I would hate for my writing to be read by others and be misunderstood, possibly causing pain.”
Rebuttal: If you are worried about your writing being discovered, find a brilliant hiding place that is still easy for you to access. Also, make a pact with a trusted friend who promises to find and destroy your journals if something happens to you. Alternatively, you could pretend you are a spy and write in a code only you understand. And you can always throw out what you write. Whoever said you have to keep what you’ve written? Isaac Asimov said, ‘The writer’s best friend is the waste paper basket.’ Frankly, journal writing is more about the process than it is about the creation of a Pulitzer.
Resisting journaling? Name your reasons for not writing—and then rebut them. That might work!
“Journaling doesn’t have to be about the activities of your life – its value rests more with the process of embracing and reflecting on the patterns of thought and emotions that are constantly looping around within you.”
~ Liz Crocker
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.
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.
This blog article is inspired and informed by Liz Crocker’s chapter entitled Journaling Resistance in The Great Book of Journaling. Liz Crocker is the co-author of Privileged Presence: Personal Stories of Connections in Health Care and Transforming Memories: Sharing Spontaneous Writing Using Loaded Words. In addition to being a writer and an editor, Liz has been a teacher, entrepreneur, health consultant, and policy advisor. She founded and still proudly owns Canada’s oldest children’s bookstore (Woozles) and openly admits to being obsessively passionate about reading and sharing books.