YOU ARE WISE. Your inner being, soul, Self, intuition, psyche — whatever you want to call it — knows more than you realize. And journaling can be an effective way of tapping into this inner wisdom. But how does it work?
Carl Jung is famous for having given us many of the concepts we use today to explain the phenomenon of conscious-subconscious knowing. Perhaps his most famous (and controversial) theory is that of the personal and collective unconscious. He believed that all aspects of an individual’s nature exist within that person at birth, and the environment in which the person grows up brings out those aspects. That we are each born with an internal “blueprint” that is a result of shared human experience — evolution, if you will — and that determines the course of our life.
You could liken this theory to the “nature vs nurture” argument, in which it is put forth that nature is more influential in how we turn out than the environment in which we grow up. According to this view, we are born with genetic “memories” — inheriting our personalities, tendencies, and ways of behaving. Then, our environment acts as a mechanism that either supports or represses these inborn tendencies. With this premise, it stands to reason that we can tap into the wisdom from these personal and collective experiences.
Even if you believe environment is the primary factor that influences who we become and the idea of genetic blueprints and memories sounds farfetched, the idea that we store information below our conscious level of thought — in our subconscious or unconscious mind — makes sense.
In defining the nature of the unconscious mind, Jung said:
“Everything of which I know, but of which I am not at the moment thinking; everything of which I was once conscious but have now forgotten; everything perceived by my senses, but not noted by my conscious mind; everything which, involuntarily and without paying attention to it, I feel, think, remember, want, and do; all the future things which are taking shape in me and will sometime come to consciousness; all this is the content of the unconscious… Besides these we must include all more or less intentional repressions of painful thought and feelings. I call the sum of these contents the ‘personal unconscious’.”
To me, this signifies that our unconscious mind contains all that we have experienced, whether we noticed it or not. And the sum of all this experience can be accessed, working with our logical minds to arrive at inspired or “intuited” conclusions and answers for problems we are trying to solve.
One way of receiving advice from your wise inner being is to Write letters to yourself from your imagined “future self.” This letter-writing method can help you retrieve your innate wisdom, which tends to be buried by the effort and chaos of daily living.
Beyond the letter-writing exercise (which is great fun, by the way), you can also engage in conversations with your inner self, a la Conversations with God (Neal Donald Walsch). I do this when I have a conundrum for which I need answers.
Here are the general steps I use when journaling a conversation with my inner self (my personal unconscious):
- I write my question. For example, one day I felt completely overwhelmed by all the things I had to do. I needed focus. Here is the question I wrote: “Larger, wiser Amber, who is connected with Universal Truth, help me out. What is most important to focus on today?”
- Then I close my eyes, take several deep breaths, and put myself in a receptive state of mind by consciously opening myself to receiving the answer.
- Next, I write whatever comes into my mind. In a very real sense, I am channeling wisdom from deep within myself through my fingers and onto the page. So the most important part of this step is just getting out of your own way. You don’t have to be serious. You can be playful. You don’t have to believe in anything in particular, only to trust that you have this inner wisdom and the ability to access it. While writing, don’t stop to evaluate, just let the words (and wisdom) flow.
- Read what you have written. Does it ring true?
If you’re practicing this process for the first time, take a few moments to write about the process itself. What was it like to ask yourself questions as if asking another person? Were you able to move out of the way and receive the answers you needed? How did that feel? If not, what is standing in your way and what would you need to do to clear the path to your intuitive self?
We all possess both inner wisdom and the ability to tap into it. Practicing receptivity to that inner voice will not only help solve everyday problems but it will also enhance your sensitivity to intuition and creativity as well.
Practice makes perfect. Share your experience with this journaling method in the comments section.