When I sit to write these posts, I often have a general idea, but not a lot of specifics as to what I want to say. That’s why writing is such an interesting process. It helps to take your jumble of thoughts and put some organization around them.
In much the same way, I use writing for my own personal development. If left by myself for a day, my mind can wander onto all manner of topic. Worry. Fear. Negative event planning. And the best tool I have found to clear our this thinking, for me, is writing.
I suppose talking could work as well, but whenever I seek to reveal my mind to another person, there is necessarily a bit of hesitation. What will they think, I wonder. Are they even listening, I question. Somehow, putting another person in the mix alters what I reveal, what I say, and what I conclude.
Writing then allows for an honest assessment of your thinking, without any bystanders to attend to. It’s just you, and a blank page, waiting to be filled with the thoughts you are having. For me, the blank page is an exciting feeling. I lean into the wonder of what I will write. For others, that blank page can be scary, so here are some tips for trying out a writing practice:
- Start with a bulleted list of ideas. Don’t put any pressure on yourself to craft sentences. Instead, list topics. The goal is to get stuff out of your head, so a list of topics could be dinner, report cards, new shoes. Or, traffic, snowy weather, and milk. You need not get any more specific than that, and you would be on your way to clearing your mind.
- If you wanted to go one step further, make a symbol next to the topic, indicating if you were thinking positively or negatively. Were you imagining a great new pair of shoes or were you fretting that they never have the wide width you need? Just note if you were thinking of what you wanted, or worrying about a negative scenario.
- Now, with that list, go one step further, and ask yourself a question and let the answer come to you in free form. Here is the question: what do I want on each topic that is listed here? For dinner, you could write, I want someone to come in and prepare me a meal. Or, I want to go out to eat. The answer is irrelevant. What matters is that you have begun to reorient your mind to that which you want.
Many of us have a worry habit. I call that my negative imagination. I tell people that I am not creative, yet when it comes to the ways in which things could go wrong, or my loved ones could be harmed, I am quite the fiction writer. I can come up with all sorts of scenarios of the worst case, and then work myself into worry. Now, when I sense that worry coming on, I play the “I want” game. I take any topic that I am worrying about and say three things that I want.
Many of us have a worry habit. I call that my negative imagination.
If I am worrying about a new, young driver, I would say, I want him to be safe, to drive courteously, and to have fun. If I am worrying about an upcoming presentation, I say, I want to be clear, efficient with my time, and reach my audience. If I am worrying about what to write on this blog, I say, I want a post that’s helpful, interesting, and fun for me to write.
Where can you start a habit of using writing to empty your mind? Where can you use bulleted lists to help you see the topics of your thinking? Where can you say a want, and shift your energy toward that which you want?