A Micro-Journaling Method From My Father
I have been reading a lot about ‘journaling’. When I was young we simply called it keeping a diary.
My father was a very methodical and business like person, and he had a very interesting way of starting his day. In addition to his exercises which he did every day when he woke up, he would then open up a steno pad to a new page, put the day’s date at the top, and then enter a value from 1 to 5 (5 being best) to represent his feelings about his intellect, emotions, and physical well being. He tried to do this very quickly without allowing any subjective thought to seep in. Then he would list any to-do items from the previous day that still needed to be done, and added any new to-do items that he intended to accomplish during the day. At the end of the day he would go and strike out those items he had completed, and sometimes he would make notes about things that seemed important or at least interesting to him.
He was a big believer in bio-rhythms and claimed that the results of this process of years confirmed it.
When I was going through my separation which eventually led to my divorce, I had so many confusing and negative thoughts in my head all the time that I could barely function. So I decided to adopt a modified version of my fathers jounaling method.
I had a medium sized spiral notebook next to my bed, and the first thing I did when I woke was put the day’s date, and then I put a value from 1 to 5 for intellect, emotions, physical well being, and I added an additional entry for libido. I would sometimes note my dreams, or very basic thoughts; feeling terrible, feeling a little better, feeling ok, etc. Sometimes that was all I did, and sometimes I went back in the evening and wrote down long and painful letters that I would never send, or sometimes letters that I eventually did send after careful consideration and editing. Or sometimes just ideas I had about anything, or interesting conversations I had during the day.
Unlike my father’s daily entries, mine were more personal and less work oriented. I had a separate to-do list that I used for work related issues.
Over time I started to notice some patterns emerging. They more or less confirmed my father’s bio-rhythm theories. I noticed that my ups and downs tended to flow according to these cycles.
I also found that writing down my dreams, ideas, and ‘letters’ were very cathartic. It made it easier to stumble my way through the day even when I did not really want to. Eventually, the negative feelings were less compelling, and I was able to think more rationally. But it was a long process.
The journaling helped. I am now wondering why I stopped? I guess I no longer ‘needed’ it to get through the day. Perhaps it was a mistake to stop. If it helped me get through a dark period in my life, I can only think it could improve those less dark periods I find myself in now.