If you’ve lost touch with you in recent months (or years), you are NOT alone. So much of the frenzy of living in this world takes us away from who we are.
My latest course Delve may be just the antidote. Full of gentle guided journaling exercises, videos, worksheets and additional writing prompts – it is the opportunity to cocoon with me as you begin writing your way into a new season of self.
Free Worksheet & Clip!
I wanted to offer a teeny-tiny taster of what’s on offer, so download a sample (printable) worksheet here – it’s on the subject of the Borrowed Beliefs we often allow to hold us back – and watch the clip below for a teaser from one of the video sessions.
Find out more about Delvehere – and sign up! You can start this course any time and it is completely self-study. I’d love to see you in the Online Classroom.
The stories we tell about ourselves are not often all that helpful. One story that we can all get tragically stuck in is the ‘not for me/for me’ dichotomy. Let me illustrate:
You see someone leaving a relationship and making a new start alone. You say, ‘I’m not built to be alone; the single life is not for me / the familiarity of coupledom is for me.’
You see someone releasing a creative project, or living a creative life. You say, ‘I’m not creative; creative projects are not for me / practical things are for me’.
Of course, these are all perfectly fine things to decide about oneself (and we are all the final experts on our own selves) IF (and it’s a big if) they are true.
Problems arise when these scripts about who we are cease to work for us. Or if, tragically, we begin to see that they never worked at all.
Issues lurk if the foundation of the ‘not for me’ thoughts is low self-worth and a lack of self-belief and if the ‘for me’ scripts are simply borne out of habit or social pressure.
We can abandon ourselves when we stick with unhelpful, inaccurate scripts out of misguided beliefs or fear. We also make it nigh on impossible to make the right kinds of decisions for our lives – decisions that may not be the easiest or the most glamorous or the quickest to achieve, but that will be true for us.
If you find you are often asking yourself the question How Do I Decide What Is Right For Me…
Try these three simple exercises in your journal to help you come to more aligned decisions.
Write a list of things you may have consciously or unconsciously been saying are not for you. Keep an open mind – these aren’t ideas you have to give up, but it will be interesting to get the lay of the land.
Next, write a list beside it of things that you have been consciously or unconsciously believing are for you.
Finally, write a ‘what if’ list. Pick a few of the items from lists one and two (e.g. ‘City living is not for me, marriage is for me, being a writer is not for me, travelling is for me’) and flip each self-concept on its head. Write these as questions and then right a short response. For example:
What if marriage *is not* for me?
I’ve always held up marriage as my ultimate relationship goal, but if I put that down for a moment I can see that a relationship is so much more than a legal document or big ceremony. I see that I’d rather have fulfilling and nourishing encounters with others, where we both feel free as well as held, and that maybe marriage does not have to be a part of that.
What if a creative career *is* for me?
If being creative was for me I might have to arrange my life very differently – and that is scary but also exhilarating. I might have to prioritise different things and accept I might not earn as much. I might have to risk some embarrassment in admitting this to friends and family – but they also might surprise me by being supportive of my dreams (they love me, after all). I think I’d wake up each morning feeling full of possibility. I’ve always thought a creative career is a wacky goal, but maybe it’s much wackier to live life in half measure.
This isn’t to say you have to give up any of your self-concepts if you don’t want to. You may find that some of them are very robust and worthwhile; the point is simply to investigate a little deeper.
Deciding what is right for you is often simply a case of removing the word ‘right’ from the sentence:
What do you believe is for you? What do you believe is not for you?
Are these beliefs true? Are there truer beliefs available to you? What would life look like if you aligned with those truer, perhaps scarier, but also more exhilarating beliefs?
I’ve been alone in my home for over three weeks. My main social interaction right now is my ceramic Anthropologie soap dish in the bathroom that says ‘Good Morning’ on it.
I’ve been feeling lonely.
What about you? The lockdown in response to the current Coronavirus crisis in the UK – and in many other nations around the world – is taking its toll on us all, albeit in very different ways. Some are working on the frontline. Some are struggling to be cooped up with others. Some of us are simply… by ourselves.
Solitude can, of course, have its own distinct pleasures. Chronic isolation is another matter altogether
For me, solitary walks among the spring blossoms have helped – as has sharing this via Instagram with pithy bits of poetry to help me feel connected to friends and loved ones.
What has also helped, as it always has, is to write out what I’m feeling.
When I have experienced loneliness in the past (or times of turmoil, struggle, disenchantedness, all of the above…) I have written in a journal. For me, a journal is a practice of going inward to ask ‘am I okay?’ or ‘what might help right now?’ I write to understand my difficult emotions and to celebrate my most life-affirming ones (the latter being the reason for founding Positive Journal®).
In these lonesome weeks, I’ve found myself asking: what might a Positive Journal practice mean for right now? For this shaky, uncertain, overwhelming, lonesome, isolated time…
Two free guides to Positive Journal writing
It feels to me that now, just like always, we need to tune into our positive emotions.
If you know my work at all then you’ll know that by this I don’t mean tune out of the very real and urgent crisis that is unfolding, but rather approach this crisis with hope, with pockets of serenity, with awe at our collective effort to overcome, and with redemptive moments of joy. Why? Because these emotions soothe and – importantly – motivate us when we need it most.
I’ve created two journal ‘companions’. These each offer a free guide to starting a Positive Journal. The first sets out the basic principles of this practice. The second is for writing your way through struggle (say, for example, loneliness).
Journal writing, loneliness and belonging
One bit of research into journal writing that I’ve recently come across reminded me of the power of writing in the second person in a diary (i.e. addressing ourselves as ‘you’ rather than writing with the first person ‘I’). This mode of writing seems, more than others, to facilitate a sense of helpful dialogue with oneself. I’ve incorporated this in my guide, Writing a Way Through.
In my own research – particularly a series of interviews I did with creative writers as part of my PhD – I’ve noticed how writing is a way of belonging (the opposite of loneliness).
Writing helps us feel less alone.
Maybe this is because we are communicating in a shared language, maybe because we hope someone might one day read our writing, or maybe because writing – whether a story, poem, or page in a journal – reminds us we are connected to a narrative larger than us.
Share a note
Do you remember, in school, passing notes to friends? In the days before smartphones this was an established part of my school day. Perhaps you weren’t sitting with your pals and you wanted to feel connected to them anyway. Perhaps you had some vitally important gossip for them that just couldn’t wait until lunch…
Well, I propose we share some notes with one another now. To draw attention to the unifying and consoling power of writing in times of isolation, I invite you to #shareanote today, and everyday throughout your lockdown, wherever you are in the world.
Use your social media (Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook) to share an image of some simple words of encouragement in the second person (e.g. ‘if you’ve brushed your teeth you’re doing great today’). This might be a little insight from your own journal that day, or simply a reminder you would like to offer yourself and that might help others feel a little more motivated & connected.
The image might be a page in your journal, something written on a post-it, a scribble on a scrap of paper, words on a napkin – anything at all. It’s the note that counts, not how it looks.
Add the hashtag #shareanote so that we can all find your image.
Join in any time, in any language, wherever you are in the world.
Share a note like this! #shareanote
I can’t wait to share some notes with you. You aren’t alone.