I didn’t really start journaling until I was about 23. I had tried before, but I was way too much of a perfectionist. I would approach each entry with this vision of someone reading it after I died, so it had to look all pretty, insightful, beautiful, and crap. Like it had to be the polished work of a genius that would inspire generations to come.
The pressure was just too much, so I gave up on the idea. But then I had my come-to-Jesus moment, read a bunch of self help books, and now I journal like a mad woman. And none of it sounds like philosophical Obi-Wan Kenobi wisdom in any way, but that’s okay.
Once I finally abandoned the idea that my journaling had to be “perfect,” it became loads easier to do. What is “perfect” in terms of journaling anyway? If it works for you, it’s perfect.
There is no “right” way to journal. Every bacon (i.e. unadulterated, true self) has a different taste. Journaling is supposed to help you learn more about what makes your bacon tick, what causes it pain, what makes it sing sweet love songs, and what makes it want to punch a Karen in the gonads.
I want to share the method I use in case it resonates with you and you want to give it a go.
Step 1: Start Rambling to Yourself
Either out loud or in your head – whatever works for you. Don’t put a filter on it. Just start rambling your stream of consciousness. Don’t plan on what to say, think ahead, or try to come up with something Buddha would bow down to. Just ramble. (I recommend NOT doing it out loud at the grocery store… Trust me.)
The point is to get in the zone. You’re basically going to transfer that rambling to paper.
Step 2: Transfer That Rambling Onto Paper As a Bulleted List
Don’t take your time to make your handwriting look pretty. My journal handwriting looks like a chicken ran through some black ink.
Write your thoughts as they are. Don’t try to prettify them. If you think “I hate the name Josepi,” simply write “I hate the name Josepi.” None of this “I deplore thy name, Josepi, as you lay such heavy tragedy on my soul” shit. (Unless that’s EXACTLY how you naturally speak and think. In which case, all the power to ya.)
(Josepi is actually a really cool name and I have absolutely nothing against it, FYI.)
Make sure to state how you feel, and then ask yourself why you feel that way. Write it all down. (It doesn’t have to be perfectly organized, just get it all on paper.)
Also, don’t worry about being mean. If a particular person makes you feel a certain way, write it down. No one (hopefully, as long as you don’t naively hide your journal under your mattress like every preteen in America) is going to read it. If I write, “I feel annoyed because Karen is such a dick all the time and stole my brownies,” that’s okay, because it’s honest. Don’t feel guilty. In fact, writing it all out honestly like that helps you vent without taking it out on the actual person and will usually help you see things from a more forgiving and accepting perspective going forward.
Step 3: Make A Bulleted List of Affirmations
Yes, I am a fan of bulleted lists. Even if they’re nonsensical. This step is very important, especially if you just spent the last two steps blasting out a lot of negative thoughts and feelings you’re having. It’s good to get all that out, but you don’t want to walk away from journaling feeling crummier than when you started.
Make a list of AT LEAST ten affirmations about yourself. Don’t hold back. Have nice skin? Write how smooth, sleek, and skin-like your skin is. Like your butt? Boast about its bootyliciousness. Do you have a good sense of humor? Talk about how you’re so funny that you make milk come out of your own nose and you don’t even have to be drinking milk.
Step 4: Write a Brief (Or Long) Letter to Yourself
This is where I pretend I am writing a letter to my child self. What would comfort you? What would motivate or inspire you? Digest the information you just wrote out in the previous steps and use that to guide you. Remember: it doesn’t have to be “perfect.” Just be kind to yourself.
Step 5: Dive Right Into Meditation
Now that you’ve emptied your mind of all those racing thoughts, I strongly recommend diving right into the meditation zone. In my opinion, this is the best time to meditate because you’ve already gotten all the thoughts out of your head, so it’s easier to get into the meditative mindset.
I believe journaling is such an important part of embracing your bacon. It’s one of the best ways to get to know yourself. There’s something about the physical act of externalizing your thoughts that somehow makes them real and easier to understand. Yes, there are some not-so-pretty, burned bacon bits, but we all have them and they’re still part of who we are. And we need to see every bacon bit of us.
NOW: Give me my brownies back, Karen!