Do you ever look back on your old journals and read what you wrote last year; or 10 years ago? Notice what comes up for you as you read about you in an earlier time – do you feel nostalgic, sad? Do you remember that time so well, as if it were just yesterday, even though you haven’t thought about those people or that event in a very long time? Can you feel your heart quicken or notice some other reaction in your body, as you read that old story – and as if it were happening today? Do you only journal when you are distressed or suffering some loss? Or do you write about your triumphs and joys as well? Are you pleased about how you dealt with a situation, or how you wrote about it? Are you dismayed to see the same argument you had with a loved one that seems to recur every year (or every week)? Do your written words allow you to see how much you repeat yourself, or that you’ve had the same negative attitude with yourself? Have you told yourself the same old thing over and over? Have you been working on the same challenges all your life? What do your journals tell about you? What’s your relationship like with your writings?
Re-reading our journals can be helpful and illuminating. It’s interesting to have a mindful perspective about our life, from where we are at now, and see how it may have changed – or not – from the perspective we had then. Those painful times past can be reminders of our vulnerabilities and woundedness, or indicators of our growth, resilience and strength.
If you notice an especially sad or depressing undertone to your journal entries, you might try to rewrite that grievance story. Look at what happened with fresh eyes. Acknowledge the feelings that story brings up inside your body. Does it make you tense up; feel crushing heart break you thought was behind you? Does it make you ache with loneliness and bring tears to your eyes, or a tightness to your throat? What if this hindrance or grievance were your furtherance? Bring some compassion to yourself and those tender feelings. Take a few deep centering breaths. Breathe kindly into those hurt, sensitive places.
And re-write your grievance story. Acknowledge what you learned from that difficult time; what did it teach you to have that experience? What did you come to know better about yourself? What were the strengths in you that helped you to move through it? What were you ultimately courageous about in doing? Where did you find that courage? Any lessons learned from honoring your deep feeling? Can you see yourself as the hero in your own story? How does it feel now to look back at your strengths? What was hopeful, or helpful to you? What in your woundedness has led to your wisdom? What have you faced that is just a part of your story and not what defines who you are? What new meaning can you give to what you have experienced and lived?
Make sure to add this to your journal under today’s date. It is part of your story after all. You might want to put an addendum or asterisk near the original entry in your journal: i.e.: “*See (today’s’ date) for meaningful update.”
Notice how it feels inside of you to have re-written your grievance story, and to have instead presented your strength, wisdom and courage. Your journal tells the story of you. There is always a new chapter you can add…