One of the best ways I’ve found to process my thoughts and where I’m at is journaling. I’m an internal processor which means I have a TON of thoughts bouncing off the walls of my brain at any given moment. It’s a tangled mess in there and writing it down helps pull it apart.
Here’s a quote I heard mentioned on the Lively Show (episode 87):
“your mind is like an unsafe neighborhood; don’t go there alone.”
― Augusten Burroughs
Have you ever felt that way? I definitely have. Obviously, counseling, therapy or a good friend are fantastic traveling partners for exploring our minds and hearts. For me, journaling is one way to ‘go in’ my mind that doesn’t feel quite so alone. I can get a record of what’s really in there and spit it all out on the pages of my journal.
When I journal I’m often naming. Meaning, that I’m putting a name on what’s going on inside my brain. Maybe, I’m feeling sad. I can start writing down how I feel sad, why, and eventually get to the ‘what’ made me sad (most of the time). When we name things, it puts the ‘thing’ in it’s proper size.
For example, several weeks ago I was picking my son up at school. This is only his second year at the school, so there are lots of ‘rules’ that I still am unaware of. The whole drop off/pick up thing is one of them. We live close enough to walk, so that’s what we do 90% of the time. This was one of the few times I decided to drive.
I decided to go to the back of the school where I’d never picked up before because it was closer to his classroom and all the parking spaces in the front were full. I pulled into what appeared to be a drive lane. All the cars were parked, engines off for the most part. They appeared to be waiting for their kids to get in. My guy is still too little to walk out to the cars and get in…and this was a new thing I hadn’t even talked to his teacher. SO, I decided to pull past those cars and park. I’d heard the bell ring, so I knew I was already running late (cue elevated heart rate).
I ran into get my little guy. When we got back to my car a mom approached me. She was angry. She said, “Why did you steal our spot?! All these moms were in line waiting for these parking spots and you went around and stole it.”
Oh no…have I mentioned confrontation is not my favorite?
I had no idea this was the protocol, so I told the truth, “I’m so sorry, I thought you were waiting for your kids to get in your cars. I’ve never picked up here before, I didn’t know the drill.”
She huffed away, got in her car…drove down two spots, got out and started hashing it through with another mom right in front of me. Man did I feel small.
Let’s just say I was a mess. I was in tears, frustrated and hurt.
I couldn’t understand why I was so upset. I mean, yes it was mean and mean girls & moms are the WORST, but this was going so much deeper for me. I couldn’t shake it. I brought it up with my counselor and started writing it out — pulling it apart.
The thing was, this event triggered my little girl (remember her?). What this mom said to me went directly to my little girl’s heart and hurts. I had quite a few mean girls growing up and she bypassed my adult reasoning and went strait for my little girl.
Once I realized this, I could write out the things I remembered as a little girl, why this triggered those. Then I could begin to soothe that hurt. I could tell her that it’s okay and ask for healing in those wounds. Naming what happened also put this incident in it’s proper size. I could logically see that yes, this was just a crabby mom on a bad day. It was an honest mistake and that’s all it was…a mistake.
Am I all healed up from those wounds? No, but I’m on the path and I am experiencing healing it’s just not complete. It’s like layers of an onion. Each layer named and processed it one step closer to healing. Journaling is integral to this process for me.
Do you journal? What works for you? If you have journaling strategies I’d love to hear them.