How Journaling Can Help You Tap into Your Intuition
Intuition is an amazingly powerful thing, if you can learn to be still and listen to it. How many times have you had a funny feeling, or a little voice in your head, that foretold something important: you knew that something wasn’t working for you long before you took action. Maybe you sensed that there were problems in a relationship, or a job, or a health issue that you needed to address. Or maybe your intuition gave you good news: a feeling that you should take the risk, switch careers, fall in love, follow a new path.
I think as we get older and have more experience, our intuition can be even sharper. We get better at sorting out what is really our inner wisdom talking, and what is just wishful thinking or anxiety chattering around in our heads. For some, meditation is the key to tapping into their inner wisdom. I have friends that swear by meditation, and quite honestly, I’m a little jealous of their success.
I’ve tried meditation, and I’ll keep trying, but it’s never been easy for me. I find that journaling is a better option. Something about putting old fashioned pen-to-paper and writing as fast as my hand will allow gets my subconscious talking. Ideas will pop up; solutions will present themselves.
Here’s how I do it, loosely based on Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages” method in The Artist’s Way:
As much as I love a pretty journal with birds and flowers and inspirational quotes on the cover, I prefer a cheap spiral notebook when I want to get down and dirty with my subconscious. When I write in a pretty journal, I feel pressured to keep things neat, and I tend to edit myself. For this exercise, messy is better. I want to feel free to write fast and furious and scratch things out and scribble in the margins.
Set some limits
I give myself an assignment – either to write for a certain amount of time, or fill a certain number of pages. Sometimes I can only squeeze in half an hour, so my goal is to write for thirty minutes straight without stopping. If my time isn’t limited, I’ll give myself a goal to write three or four pages.
Let it marinate
I don’t go back and read what I’ve written right away. My preference is to wait about two weeks, or at the very least, a few days. I want the words to feel a little fresh and foreign so that my brain doesn’t go into auto mode and skip over something important.
Above all, I just keep writing, filling up my notebook. I’ve found fascinating thoughts tend to be hidden in the mundane. I’ll be writing about the weather, how I’m craving a latte, something a friend said to me at lunch, and then right in the middle, there will be something seemingly random that, when I read it later, will send me off in a new direction. It can be subtle, but then everything related to intuition generally is. I’ve said before that I wish God would just leave us Post-it notes, but until that happens, we usually have to slog along and look for clues.
Some Prompts to Try
Ready to try it? If the blank page intimidates you and you’re not sure where to start, try one of these prompts:
- “Here’s how I spent my day – and here’s how I wish I could have spent it.”
- “When I was a child, I wanted to be a _________________.” (For the record, my answer is a weathergirl or a cat. I was a weird kid.)
- “If I could live anywhere in the world, I would live in _______________________.” This could be a country, a city, or a different type of house. Describe what your life would be like in this different environment.
- “If I could tell my younger self one thing, it would be ______________________________.”
- “If I won the lottery today, here’s how I would spend the money.” Don’t edit yourself here. No one will know if you don’t write, “give it all to charity.” It’s just imaginary money; it’s okay to be selfish.
Your results may vary – but if you give it a chance, you may be surprised at what you learn from this exercise. At the very least, it will help you to clarify your thoughts. Be patient and trust the process, and believe that deep inside, you know what to do next. When the time is right, you’ll tease the answers out.