I am not going to extol the benefits of writing a daily account of your life because we all know that writing down our thoughts can only do us good. Diaries are intimate. They are a direct connection between the author and the reader in a way that no other form of writing can be. When you return to your old entries, it is an almost surreal experience to see an older version of you. I always end up being amused at how I keep repeating my mistakes. I flounder. A lot. Writing it all down makes me feel less like flotsam.
Give yourself the gift of Time
Although I have always had a diary in which I have scribbled my ideas, thoughts, and emotions, I have been writing Morning Pages (almost daily) for the past couple of years now. Morning Pages are slightly different from a diary in that, it is about a three-page handwritten free writing exercise the first thing in the morning. It gives me discipline because I can tell myself that I will only write 3 pages in about 30 minutes. It is an achievable goal and it helps me clear out the cobwebs of my mind. I can talk about the things that are bothering me and since it is a conversation I have with myself; I end up with some kind of a solution to the problem at hand, most of the time. It has become for me, a space where I can give voice to all my thoughts. If you feel that 30 minutes is too much, then you can consider something called Bullet Journals. It is a beautiful and wonderful way to write down the daily happenings, and must I say it, staying organized. Or you can go the Tim Ferris way and write a five-minute journal. But do write down your thoughts.
Diaries are conversations that an author has with themselves through the pages of a diary, we, as readers, instantly tend to put more trust in them. Certainly, even though we may conceal our emotions, someone who writes a diary will tend to do so to capture only a certain kind of mood, which is in most cases, that of sad thoughts. So, a diarist will tend to write in the diary when they experience negative emotions. It is not a necessary prerequisite but it certainly gravitates in that direction. I wonder what is wrong with that. In times such as these, when we are all struggling to stay afloat, there is a lot of noise being generated around mental health. You can consider it a daily scan of your mental health. Writing a daily journal about our thoughts and feelings is the most harmless way to get some of the negativity out on paper and hence, out of our system. No judgments.
Words come and go. Every few years we notice some words doing the rounds. It will be on everybody’s lips and even before you know it, it subconsciously becomes a part of your vocabulary till the new wave comes with new words. Self-Care is yesterday’s Emotional Intelligence. We get it. It is a multi-million-dollar industry. But the important question to ask is whether it is really that important? The answer is Yes. Take it from someone who avoids trends like the plague. I believe that for the first time, the message is right. They are telling us that we need to take care of ourselves. For women, this is the first time someone is on our side. What could be better than someone telling the women that they need to take some time out, that it is okay to take a break and go for a walk. For the first time, someone is saying that you need to put on the oxygen mask first before being of assistance to others. Writing a diary should be part of your self-care routine, too. It is deep cleansing of the soul.
We would all love to join the 5am Club but let’s be realistic. How can we binge-watch our favourite show on Netflix if we have to wake up at the crack of dawn? And Life would be too robotic if we didn’t live a little. But writing my Morning Pages has certainly helped in making me more realistic about my goals. It has helped me keep track of my habits. It is a different matter that I am riddled with guilt later for not being up to speed with my habits, but rest assured, it is a good place to start. It certainly helps keeping things in perspective. There is something deeply unnerving about having a blank page stare at you where you should have been putting down your daily habit achievements. But that’s what the Restart button is there for!
What have I learned?
> I can be my biggest enemy. Sometimes, it is good to be the parent and this is the space where I can rebuke myself for doing something wrong, call out myself for being someone I am not.
> I have found a friend in me. I am comfortable in my own company. Sometimes, this friend can be too harsh a critic but who needs a fairweather friend?
> I depend on it to anchor my thoughts. The thoughts can be contradictory, half-finished. It feels like a load off my chest to not be a perfectionist.
> I can confront my fear and dissolve into tears. The pages have revealed to me my deepest fears and I have more often than not, found ways to confront them. It has helped me sift the grain from the chaff.
> I can float without fear. In these pages, my mind can go anywhere and I let it flounder aimlessly. There is something deeply cathartic and curiously liberating to know that there is no control.
I have a long way to go from becoming the best version of myself. I am work in progress. Every night I might not go to bed feeling happy that I have put a check in all the boxes. But every morning when I put my thoughts away into neat little filing cabinets, I feel I am Possible.