“Everybody is a genius. but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid” – – Albert Einstein

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Copyright © 2021 Santiago Barragan Noguera. All rights reserved.

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The Art of Journaling

Journaling is the practice of doing captures of reality in the present moment. We all fluctuate in personality, reasoning, emotional states, desires, and fears throughout our weeks, depending on how circumstances treat us. Unless we externalize and articulate how events and circumstances shape the narrative we tell ourselves about our life and our identity, we might misunderstand what is accurate and most significant of our present condition. 

Under various circumstances, we will see and describe ourselves in very different ways. Every time we will share something that appears to be the most relevant attribute. However, that piece of information was chosen because it was the most visible with the lenses we had at that moment, not because it was the greatest objective and absolute truth. The paradigms you have are the lenses on which experience is filtered and labeled. 

Every capture in time, meaning every time we externalize thoughts, feelings, perceptions either in writing or orally, we get a piece of the puzzle. The sincere problem is to mistakenly consider a single piece as the entirety of the puzzle. The lack of questioning and examination of what crosses our minds lead to simplistic and misleading conclusions. Thus, it is good to have a small amount of skepticism towards the views that come as a result of temporary emotional states and generalizations based on wounds from the past.

Due to the complexity and depth of the human psyche, it might take hundreds of pieces to bring to the surface the underneath image of the puzzle, meaning the authentic appearance of reality. Therefore, pouring out what is in our minds through writing has to be done with regularity. The more captures of time, the higher the resolution of reality you will receive.


Subpersonalities

Have you noticed that you present yourself in different ways to different people? How in a matter of days or hours could you go from the extremes on how you perceive yourself and your life? It isn’t a matter of madness, but rather it is the manifestation of different sub-personalities or versions of yourself. Some play the role of reason, others of instinct and emotion. Some are more romantic, others more realistic, some are more optimistic, others more negative, some more adventurous, some more conservative. They all serve a purpose, but the lack of coordination of these personalities can allow one to take control in the wrong situation and sink the ship for the rest.

It is worth mentioning that suppressing any parts of your personality won’t do much good. They will eventually find their way out, so it is more convenient to understand them rather than ignore the undesired parts of yourself. Look into them with detachment and write about what the inception of such voice is? Is it part of your essence, or is it a learned behavior? How could it have served you to cope with the past? What is it protecting you from in the present? What is the unfulfilled emotional need beyond the surface of the reaction?

Ultimately, it is needed to give each of them a moment to express themselves. Journaling is that space for safe and controlled expression. A higher level of self-awareness starts when you witness what each of these characters has to say about their intentions, motivations, and fears.

Finding alignment through the journaling process will require first a couple of steps:

  • Step one is the recognition that you have multiple subpersonalities. Identify your most active ones and when they take you over.
  • Step two is the willingness to acknowledge that conflicting subpersonalities exist. Discover when they show up and take you over, what they want, how they limit you, and how they may serve you in a different situation.
  • Step three is to get them to negotiate with one another. Find out what is the common ground on which they all stand.
  • Step four is one of proper synthesis or collaboration to the same end for the good of the whole.

General Guidelines

Journaling is not to be accomplished in a rush. Do the 5 Minutes of Stillness, and then start by writing, “I am checking in…” then perhaps write about what you perceive in the room, or an experience from the same day, or a precious memory. 

In the beginning, it is not about being extensive and detailed. Just start one word at a time, without the expectation of being clean or precise. Navigate the depths of your mind slowly. The more experience you acquire, the easier it will be for your unconscious to bring memories, thoughts, body sensations, and emotions to the surface of your awareness. 

Just like brushing your teeth, journaling is not something you get done with, and never do it ever again. Release the expectation to find any treasures on the first day. Interiorize that to rip the benefits, you will have to commit to it in the long run. Enjoy getting to know yourself as if you were a stranger; every single time. If it is daunting or overwhelming, put it aside and go back to it the next day. 

You don’t have to choose deliberately as if there was a limit of words you can use. Journaling is the space to be disorganized and messy. The only rule is that you cannot be judgemental. Nasty opinions and guilty desires might arise. Embrace them in that space and inquiry into what is behind them. What is their underlying meaning? Are they the most authentic expression of you, or are they the guardians of a more vulnerable message?

I highly encourage you to have a pocket notebook rather than having your diary on your phone or computer. In order to prime your brain to enter a meditative state every time you open your notebook, you want to create an association at the level of the brain of what that notebook is for and what it means to you. Although your phone is convenient, there won’t ever be such an association as you do 100 different things with it. It has to be accessible enough to use in the moments of transition throughout your day. During a coffee break, while waiting for a bus, or before a meeting. You never know when you might gain an insight that is worth capturing.

Your journal is not for sharing with friends, family, or romantic partners. The reason is simple; you won’t allow yourself to open yourself enough if it is at the disposal of others. It is up to you to share your insights with your therapist or coach. 

Conclusively, writing and reviewing your journal often can help you become the conductor of your own orchestra. In other words, become much more integrated and consistent with yourself and other people.

With all love,

Santiago Barragan Noguera

Coach & Educator — Artistic Polymath

Copyright © 2021 Santiago Barragan Noguera. All rights reserved.