Conversational Journaling- Ask Why?


I know myself better than anyone else. Why shouldn’t I take advantage of that by using my journal for a meaningful conversation- with me. Self-talk is powerful. My self-questions and answers often reveal insightful solutions. Writing the process down is called conversational journaling.

Many people, who journal, like to keep separate journals for specific purposes. A Dream and Idea Journal allows the free flow of your most creative ideas. An Events journal is like a diary to record the interesting details in your everyday life. An Art journal is a doodle fest of colors, words, and creative expression that can be made for any subject. This Conversational journal is for problem solving.

I call this the “why method”. Here’s how it works. I find a private spot where I won’t be disturbed.  Next, I choose something to discuss that I might like to talk over with a friend.  It can be a situation with another person, a problem I’m trying to solve, a decision I’m trying to make, or a feeling I’m trying to define.

(This method is so effective that I surprise yourself) Since I’m talking to a friend, she needs a name. Mine is just J for Journal. I know, it sounds silly, but it’s useful.

Let me give you an example of a journal conversation. I open my journal to a fresh page and begin writing a dialogue with J. (my journal friend)

J. How are you today?

B. (that’s me) I’m upset over a conversation I had with R&D yesterday.

J. What upset you?

B. I felt that they were trying to regulate all the creativity out of the project.

J. Why do you think that was their intention?

B. I really don’t know if it was their intention, but it’s how I felt?

J. Why do you think those feelings came up in you? Were surprised by their intensity?

B. Yes! I felt it was a threat to my free expression. I felt their regulations and templates went too far to stifle responses.

J. It doesn’t sound like your vision of the project and theirs are in sync. What can you do about that?

B. Setting my tendency to be edgy about the value of creativity aside, I can take another look at their idea and try to find common ground. After I get over being mad. I’m enjoying being mad for a few minutes.

J. And if you can’t reconcile visions?

B. I’ll feel better about gracefully leaving, making room for someone who is more compatible to come in.  I’ll use my time on something I’m happier to be part of.

J. Sounds like you’ve found a solution you can live with. Feeling better?

B. Yes, the pressure is gone because I realize I have options and I’m ultimately in control of my response. Have a nice day, J.! (Actual journal conversation)

How does the Why Journaling method bring clarity to a situation?

The questions are what I would ask if I were the friend, who cared about me, is talking to me. My responses must be honest and spontaneous. There will be questions that I’ll want to put a little more soul searching into but let your first responses guide you.

For instance, in the journaling dialogue above, I probably would have gone into why R&D’s new mandates created anger in me. What was that all about?  Anger is fear. Fear is a response to lack or inadequacy. Deeper issues require more questions..

It’s not enough to bring out the problem and stay stuck in it. It’s important to come away with an answer you feel good about. If it’s a huge, multifaceted problem, choose a small part of it to untangle today and leave the rest until you’re ready to tackle it.

Dr. Robert Schuller used to say, “Pray for the solution, not the problem”.  Here’s another-

The Possibility Thinker’s Creed
When faced with a mountain
I will not quit
I will keep on striving until I
Climb over,
Tunnel underneath, or simply stay
And turn the mountain into a gold mine
With God’s help!

Keep asking the Why’s, How’s, and What’s until positive thoughts appear with the answers.

Pursue that. The positive energy is creating a real solution.

As you write, you’re channeling energy into your mind and heart about the situation you’re working on. Negativity can dig you into a hole you don’t want to be in. Thoughts of a successful outcome attract thoughts within you, that will give the answers you seek. More than once I’ve ended the conversation with J. with a bit of knowledge that I’d long tucked mentally away that turned out to be the very key I needed.

One more thing. Choose a journal that feels like it matches your deepest intentions for good in your life. (Like a nice leather, cloth, or beautifully illustrated cover). And the pen is important too. Sensuality- the journal, pen, coffee, wine, or room with a view you love- will contribute to the depth of your revealing conversations with your journal. Enjoy your time with you!

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