JOURNAL WRITING can help you move through challenging circumstances in life. For example, I recently endured an uncomfortable situation; in fact, I’m still dealing with it. But, if you are reading this it means that the situation is largely resolved.
It was my own fault. I dropped my guard, like the day my iPhone was deftly removed from my purse. Yes, I was careful. Yes, I clutched my purse in front of me. But in that critical moment when hundreds of people funneled forward into the narrow opening between the train doors, an unseen hand reached in and grabbed my phone. I felt it, but it was too late. There were hundreds of people all around me, faces as impassive as the stone statues in any plaza.
Regarding my recent problem — Yes, I made a backup of my website. Yes, I downloaded it to an off-server location. But I trusted the backup program to do its job. I also trusted the WordPress update process to do its job seamlessly, as it has done so many times before. But in that critical moment when hundreds of automated steps of code funneled through the opening of the update, something unseen reached in and grabbed some file essential to the functioning of my websites. I felt it — saw it — but it was too late. Impossible to identify the culprit. And my backup was no good.
So there I sat, nearly 24 hours later, having exhausted six tech support specialists, and my websites were still down. So what did I do? I pulled out my journal and began writing. I wrote down everything: my frustration, anger, and fears.
Through journal writing I vented, found metaphors, and gained perspective. I came to understand that I had misplaced my trust in technology and, because things had gone so smoothly for so long, let down my guard. I had taken technology for granted.
Then I asked myself the question, “What can I learn from this particular challenge in this particular moment in my life?” The answers came quickly:
- Don’t rely on software and other technologies. Just like writing, grammar gremlins sneak in and live in the dark places. When you let down your guard, they pop out and do their mischief. In the future, I will copy the damn files, every one of them, unzipped, and download them to my hard drive (which is similarly copied elsewhere).
- Breathe and look at the bigger picture. My websites, though important to me, are insignificant in the larger scheme of things. I can live without my mobile phone, and I can live without my websites — for a while, at least.
- Challenges remind me that my life is not about what I do, but who I am. When I come to my senses and remember who I am, I recover my natural sense of optimism and light-heartedness.
- Continue to journal through my challenges, because there’s always gold to be found, if I just dig deeply enough.
So, my message is this: When you feel unhinged by some unwanted event in your life, write about it. Describe it, rant about it, examine it, and finally ask yourself, “What can I learn from this particular challenge in this particular moment in my life? There’s always possibility for growth.
And if you’re new to this idea of writing through life — or simply want additional writing reinforcement — be sure to sign up for my FREE Journaling 101 e-mail course (use the form on the right)
Photo by Roger Price