One tool that I have found very helpful in my quest to be a more grateful and compassionate person is a daily writing practice. As outlined in The Artist’s Way, by author Julia Cameron, the idea is to write three pages per day, in longhand, first thing in the morning, about anything that comes to mind. (She calls it your “Morning Pages.”) Seeing words on paper, the old-fashioned way, is very liberating, and keeps us away from our beeping computers and technology while we write.
Since I’ve started this practice, a few months ago, I have found clarity around circumstances and situations that were previously muddled and ambiguous to me. This type of stream-of-consciousness writing just allows you to take your mind where it wants to go, and I always find that something inspired comes to me about a problem or issue I’m having. I recognize that how I see something is my perspective only, and I realize that I have spiritual work to do on myself before I can judge or condemn others. Even on busy days, I always try to approach this task with love, as a gift to myself, part of my self-care, and not a chore.
Some days, I don’t have anything in particular that I want to write about; it’s just a regular day with ordinary tasks and chores. And so, I write about the goals that I want to accomplish for that day. Or, I list those things or people in my life that I am grateful for. Putting this down on paper makes everything more concrete, and provides focus for my day.
On other, more difficult, days, I write about a client or legal issue that I’m struggling with, or a hurtful comment that I made to a loved one. On these days, I often find that I can resolve the issue within myself, and approach the situation or circumstance from a place of compassion and love, as opposed to resentment and fear. I write about my fears, too; I’ve come to realize that my fears are not something to be ignored, pushed under the rug, but to be treasured, as they teach me to be more aware of what I need to work on within myself. Fear about one thing or another is something we all struggle with, and can be debilitating or motivating. This is a tough concept for me—I’d like to be fearless! But I have been trying to recognize my fears, and just sit with them, and look more deeply into each one to see what the specific fear is trying to teach me. One of my biggest fears is putting myself out there and being vulnerable; so I’m trying to face this fear by blogging, recognizing that there will be some people who will not resonate with my words. And understanding that I don’t have to take that personally! We all have a fear that we are not good enough, not perfect enough, but the truth is we don’t have to be the best or perfect—our struggles are everyone else’s struggles, too. Once we recognize that, we become connected to every person, and can be more accepting and tolerant, both to others and to ourselves.
Call to action: Try a week of writing, and let me know your results. Has it helped you in any way? Has it provided clarity or understanding on a specific issue for you?