By Lyn Alderson
Years ago there was a credit card in the UK called Access- and it was advertised on TV as “your flexible friend”.
Today I realised however, that my true “flexible friend” is my journal which I use with prayer as a spiritual discipline.
My journal is flexible because I use it to respond to my feelings and circumstances as each new day arrives. A lot of days are happy so I use my journal to expand my vision, focus my mind and encourage myself to reach higher and higher. I keep a record of the blessings I receive and often write down prayers of thanksgiving.
But on a bad day when things get tricky, I can always use my journal for writing therapy.As I write down my thoughts I can see where I need to do emotional work.
Here are a few ways I use my journal for self- therapy:
I challenge my Inner Critic
I read my Morning Pages as a barometer for my thought-life. Am I being self-critical? Are there any ‘shoulds’ or ‘musts’ in my morning meanderings? If so, then I challenge their validity.
Who says I should go shopping today instead of painting a picture? I don’t “have to” spend my time in shops- I can choose freely from my available options. So what is important to me today?
If my original plan was to spend my time creatively then I refuse to let a nagging sense of guilt steal my joy!
I count my successes
If I’ve made a mistake or feel I lack confidence in a certain area, I write a list of all the things I’ve done successfully. When I realize I’ve done 50 things right for every mistake I make, it puts things into perspective. I remind myself that I’m a person with skills, and I’ve had some significant achievements. And at the end of the day, like every other person on this planet, I’m valuable for who I am, not what I do. God says I’m his workmanship, his poem, his work of art!
If I want to see spiritual growth in an area of life, then I dig out a verse of scripture which seems relevant and copy it into my journal. I ask the Spirit for insight and start free-writing about it. So often the revelations come tumbling off my pen!
I’ve healed my past
Writing therapy has helped me come to terms with childhood experiences that were difficult, like being bullied at school. If you have ever been mistreated, I recommend using the Unsent Letter technique. Just write a letter to the person that hurt you, describing exactly how it made you feel and telling them what you think of their shabby behaviour. Then burn or shred the letter and declare out loud “I forgive you” three times, naming the person. I always pray for blessings over the offender’s life. This really works in bringing emotional freedom and spiritual freedom. It’s not the same as condoning bad behaviour- it just means you set yourself free instead of living with bitterness that can wreck your health and well-being.
Looking back through myjournaling for the past few years I can see I’ve come a long way on my spiritual journey. I am thankful to God for guiding me and I really appreciate my journal too because it’s a wonderful tool for personal growth and feels like a true friend.
Lyn Alderson is a professional journalist, blogger and author, based in the English Midlands.
She has 25 years’ experience of writing news and features for UK newspapers and magazines.To find out more about Lyn and her work visit http://lacopywriting.co.uk
If you want to find out more about the health benefits of keeping a journal, check out Lyn's e-book The Write Therapy: How Keeping a Journal Can Make You Happier, Healthier and More Productive available from the Amazon Kindle Store.