The importance of ritual in journaling

A key aspect of journaling is preparing the mind and body to begin the process of being creative. Ritual is an important part of this process. Ritual is defined as completing a series of tasks in a particular order. Just as a ritual is used in religious ceremonies to set the mood,  a ritual can be used in journaling to set the mood for creativity. Rituals provide predictability. Once the ritual starts the attendees know what is coming next. The same could be said for journaling. Once the ritual of sitting down to write has begun the body knows how to proceed. In this way, the pump is primed for journaling.

Think back to the last time you heard the Star Spangled Banner at an event. How did you feel? Was there a rush of excitement knowing the event was about to begin?  The use of the Star Spangled Banner before sportings events signals to everyone listening take your seat it is time to begin. The next time you are at an event. Watch how people behave when the music starts. This is a ritual in action.  Another example of a ritual is saying a prayer before eating at the supper table.  We all have rituals in our lives that we use to signal certain behaviors. Harnessing the power of ritual for writing will help develop your creative muscles.

Rituals can be used to signal our brain that it is time to begin. When you create a ritual for journaling it prepares the mind and body to begin the creative process. Many famous writers will tell you they begin the process of writing the same way every time.

I recommended preparing a space for your writing. In this space, you don’t do anything else but write. It could be at a desk or near a favorite window. You want your space to be comfortable. Not to warm or too cold with as little distractions as possible.

In this space, you need to have your journal and writing utensils available. It defeats the purpose of having a ritual if you have to interrupt the ritual to go find a pencil or pen. Provide an area in this space to have everything you need at hand.  Try to write at the same time every day.

Try this for a few weeks and let me know how it works for you. If you need more ideas for journaling, check me out on Instagram.

Journal me well.

One of the most overlooked tools for dealing with painful emotions is to write in a journal. When I recommend this tool to my clients they have numerous reactions. “I don’t write well.” “I can’t spell” “I don’t know what to write about.” Writing is an essential skill, but for many people, it has been ruined because of experiences in the educational setting.

Writing in a journal does not mean writing an essay with perfect punctuation and grammar. It means writing down feelings, thoughts, and emotions that we can’t really share with other people. In this way, the journal becomes a best friend. The journal is always there. You can write in the middle of the night or during the day. If you are afraid of someone else reading your journal, it can be locked up in a drawer. The other option is to burn what you write.

What most people don’t understand about emotions is that the uncomfortable ones can infect our mind. These emotions sit in our psyche. We ruminate over them. As we stew and fret over how we feel the emotion increases and gets bigger. Pretty soon our mind is overcome with all of this emotion.

Imagine your body as a giant container with a lid. Your emotion is liquid in the container. It circles around the container. The more we think about the feeling the more energy is created. The emotion spins and spins in our mind. In order to receive relief from the emotion, it needs a way out.

The emotion can be released from the body through writing. Once you start the words will flow out of you onto the page. The more you write the better you will feel.

To help my clients start a journal I have created an Instagram where I post daily prompts for writing. I have found the act of thinking about the prompts and what I want to write about that day have been beneficial. It has kept me focused on using writing as a tool to achieve better focus and consistency. It has provided a creative outlet that I didn’t realize I needed until I created the Instagram. 

Come join me over on Instagram and journal with me to a better healthier you. 


Culture and Counseling

When I am working with a client it is important for me to understand their family rules.  Not only do we have a culture from our families ethnicity and area of the country upon which we grew up. Each family has a culture or if it’s easier to understand the family rules. Some families are patriarchal. This means the father is the head of the household. He will be the one who hands out discipline upon the children. He will be the one that makes the decisions for the good of the family. Some families are matriarchal. In matriarchal families the mother is the head of the household. She is the one that is the decision maker. She will be the one that hands out the discipline upon the children.

In terms of culture the other information that I would need to know in working with a client is what are the rules for emotions. Some families are emotion absent, meaning that emotions are not allowed. If emotions are allowed, it is usually only positive emotions. Some families are emotionally reactive, meaning that emotions are exaggerated,  and explosive. In these types of families each person is busy reacting to another’s person’s emotions. Many families are on the spectrum between these types of families.

In understanding how we behave in groups whether it be at work or in relationships we need to understand our own family culture. We carry these unspoken rules into our workplaces, relationships with spouses, and friends. When conflict comes up in these relationships, the solution can often be found in our cultural family background.

The first step in understanding your family culture is asking yourself,  “Did I grow up in a matriarchal family or a patriarchal family?” You may have to dig a little deep into your history to determine this. This question is about power. Who had the power in the family to make decisions?

The second step in understanding your family culture is asking yourself, “Was my family emotionally absent or emotionally reactive?”  Once you have determined whether your family culture was emotionally absent or reactive, ask yourself, “What am I?” Do I under react or over react. It can be the same as your family culture. Most of times it is not the same.

Once you have determined whether your family was matriarchal or patriarchal, emotionally absent or reactive, you can determine how these cultural behaviors manifest in your own behaviors.  Understanding your own behaviors is critical if you want to understand other’s. People often react to other’s  based off their own beliefs about how they should behave. Do you want to learn not to react?  Study your own family culture, learn from it, and understand that because it was learned means it can be unlearned.

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