journaling

Too much Traffic in your Mind? Try Journaling

Sometimes my thinking feels like its in a traffic jam. An impatient traffic jam.

 

Horns tooting, temperatures rising, gridlock. Just too many neurons firing off!

One of favorite artists, Bruce Cockburn, captures it well in his song Five Fifty-One

Knots in my muscles, too much traffic in my mind
traffic in my mind, traffic in my mind
knots in my muscles, too much traffic in my mind
it was five fifty-one, gray light creeping through the blind

Somehow, you’ve got to get those tooting horns under control and regain composure in your mind.

One of the most effective ways of doing this I have found is to write. To pick up a pen and let the words flow. Sometimes its just a pouring out of an alphabet soup in a cathartic deluge. Rage, sadness, joy, anger, fear all flow and free the mind.

Is that all journaling can be?

Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through your finger tips. Dawson Trotman

 

I look at the psalms of David, the songs of Moses, the prophecies of Jeremiah and others, the Revelation of John and wonder it they too were in some way journaling. God using the situation they were in to express his journaled heart to his people.

In my journaling journey I have at times used the ‘Pour it all out’ method but I have also used three other techniques to help me bring some peace to the ‘traffic in my mind’.

3 Journaling Methods

 

1. Exploring your beliefs

I found this process in a course I took from Wisdom for Life. It is C.B.T. based and helps you to trace out core beliefs.

  1. The emotion or reaction or event I am exploring is …
  2. The self talk producing it is … (make sure you write down as much as self talk as you can here)
  3. The belief supporting that must be …
  4. God’s view/ the reality is …
  5. The challenge I face is …

This type of journaling not only helps us find out what we believe, but challenges us to identify reality – what is rational and logical and can be supported by evidence. Then we are invited to dispute our belief with new and superior insights.

2. The P.A.P.A prayer.

This journaling option comes from Dr. Larry Crabbs book The Papa Prayer: The Prayer You’ve Never Prayed

In this method we are invited to write a prayer along these lines

  • Present yourself – Present authentically to God whatever you discover in yourself, whether good or bad. Don’t hold anything back.
  •  Attend to attend to how you are thinking of God –  Attend to who God really is (as revealed in the Bible) versus who you think God is (based on life experience) or who you want Him to be (based on your felt desires).
  • Purge yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God – Purge whatever is blocking your intimacy with God by acknowledging without excuse or explanation the self-obsession staining your motives that the Spirit chooses to reveal.
  • Approach God as the “first thing” in your life – Approach God with confidence that what He loves to give you is what you want the most. Stand before God as a loved child. Rest in His love as a prelude to receiving His best.

Read more about this. Click here …

3. The Cup

I discovered this method from a counselor called Ruth Penny. Cancer took her life a few years back now but this gift lives on. In this journaling method you imagine your life as a cup, you may even like to hold a cup whilst doing the exercise.

You prayerfully explore two questions.

  1. What has filled your cup this last day/ week?
  2. What has drained your cup this last day/ week?

After doing this for a period of time, say a month, you might be able to see trends, themes, areas to explore further.

Read more about this. Click here …

Some quotes to consider …

To change your emotions, first get control of your thoughts. Ruts of the mind become moods of the heart. David Riddell Click to Tweet

Improvement of our lives begins with the renewing of our minds, which is begun in turn by challenging old beliefs and childhood conclusions. David Riddell

Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through your finger tips. Dawson Trotman Click to Tweet

Present yourself – Present authentically to God whatever you discover in yourself, whether good or bad. Don’t hold anything back. Don’t pretend that what’s going on inside you (e.g. hatred) really isn’t happening. Don’t trivialize what’s happening as unimportant, petty, not worth mentioning. Don’t spin whatever you discover that’s disagreeable into something more pleasant. Be who you are, where you are.
Attend to attend to how you are thinking of God –  Attend to who God really is (as revealed in the Bible) versus who you think God is (based on life experience) or who you want Him to be (based on your felt desires). Don’t assume your view of God is correct. Don’t project your experience with authority figures, especially your
father, onto God. Don’t sugar-coat the word God to satisfy your desire for a pleasant experience with Him. Don’t believe everything you hear, except from God Himself in the Bible. Stand before the God of the Bible. You’ll fall to your knees, but you’ll get up a new person.
Purge yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God – Purge whatever is blocking your intimacy with God by acknowledging without excuse or explanation the self-obsession staining your motives that the Spirit chooses to reveal. Don’t simply try hard to be good; don’t merely promise to do better. Don’t criticize others’ faults without first seeing your own equally serious faults. Don’t redefine your self-obsession into understandable mistakes. Don’t assume that your strong passion for what you believe is right is necessarily holy. Stand naked before holiness. The more you see your sin, the more you’ll be amazed by grace.
Approach God as the “first thing” in your life – Approach God with confidence that what He loves to give you is what you want the most. Don’t retreat from God when He seems unresponsive. Don’t negotiate with God. You have no leverage other than His relentless, tender love and your longing to get what He’s giving. Don’t demand anything from God; expect the gift of relationship. Don’t let the desires that you feel dictate your expectations of what He’ll give you. Stand before God as a loved child. Rest in His love as a prelude to receiving His best. – See more at: http://turningthepage.info/subjecting-your-thoughts-to-the-presence-of-p-a-p-a/#sthash.Mq7g5RHM.dpuf
Present yourself – Present authentically to God whatever you discover in yourself, whether good or bad. Don’t hold anything back. Don’t pretend that what’s going on inside you (e.g. hatred) really isn’t happening. Don’t trivialize what’s happening as unimportant, petty, not worth mentioning. Don’t spin whatever you discover that’s disagreeable into something more pleasant. Be who you are, where you are.
Attend to attend to how you are thinking of God –  Attend to who God really is (as revealed in the Bible) versus who you think God is (based on life experience) or who you want Him to be (based on your felt desires). Don’t assume your view of God is correct. Don’t project your experience with authority figures, especially your
father, onto God. Don’t sugar-coat the word God to satisfy your desire for a pleasant experience with Him. Don’t believe everything you hear, except from God Himself in the Bible. Stand before the God of the Bible. You’ll fall to your knees, but you’ll get up a new person.
Purge yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God – Purge whatever is blocking your intimacy with God by acknowledging without excuse or explanation the self-obsession staining your motives that the Spirit chooses to reveal. Don’t simply try hard to be good; don’t merely promise to do better. Don’t criticize others’ faults without first seeing your own equally serious faults. Don’t redefine your self-obsession into understandable mistakes. Don’t assume that your strong passion for what you believe is right is necessarily holy. Stand naked before holiness. The more you see your sin, the more you’ll be amazed by grace.
Approach God as the “first thing” in your life – Approach God with confidence that what He loves to give you is what you want the most. Don’t retreat from God when He seems unresponsive. Don’t negotiate with God. You have no leverage other than His relentless, tender love and your longing to get what He’s giving. Don’t demand anything from God; expect the gift of relationship. Don’t let the desires that you feel dictate your expectations of what He’ll give you. Stand before God as a loved child. Rest in His love as a prelude to receiving His best. – See more at: http://turningthepage.info/subjecting-your-thoughts-to-the-presence-of-p-a-p-a/#sthash.Mq7g5RHM.dpuf
Present yourself – Present authentically to God whatever you discover in yourself, whether good or bad. Don’t hold anything back. Don’t pretend that what’s going on inside you (e.g. hatred) really isn’t happening. Don’t trivialize what’s happening as unimportant, petty, not worth mentioning. Don’t spin whatever you discover that’s disagreeable into something more pleasant. Be who you are, where you are.
Attend to attend to how you are thinking of God –  Attend to who God really is (as revealed in the Bible) versus who you think God is (based on life experience) or who you want Him to be (based on your felt desires). Don’t assume your view of God is correct. Don’t project your experience with authority figures, especially your
father, onto God. Don’t sugar-coat the word God to satisfy your desire for a pleasant experience with Him. Don’t believe everything you hear, except from God Himself in the Bible. Stand before the God of the Bible. You’ll fall to your knees, but you’ll get up a new person.
Purge yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God – Purge whatever is blocking your intimacy with God by acknowledging without excuse or explanation the self-obsession staining your motives that the Spirit chooses to reveal. Don’t simply try hard to be good; don’t merely promise to do better. Don’t criticize others’ faults without first seeing your own equally serious faults. Don’t redefine your self-obsession into understandable mistakes. Don’t assume that your strong passion for what you believe is right is necessarily holy. Stand naked before holiness. The more you see your sin, the more you’ll be amazed by grace.
Approach God as the “first thing” in your life – Approach God with confidence that what He loves to give you is what you want the most. Don’t retreat from God when He seems unresponsive. Don’t negotiate with God. You have no leverage other than His relentless, tender love and your longing to get what He’s giving. Don’t demand anything from God; expect the gift of relationship. Don’t let the desires that you feel dictate your expectations of what He’ll give you. Stand before God as a loved child. Rest in His love as a prelude to receiving His best. – See more at: http://turningthepage.info/subjecting-your-thoughts-to-the-presence-of-p-a-p-a/#sthash.Mq7g5RHM.dpuf
Present yourself

Questions to consider and leave a comment …

  1. Why do you think writing helps to disentangle the traffic in your mind?
  2. What other journaling methods have your used?

Barry Pearman

Photo Credit: Tony Fischer Photography via Compfight cc

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