Listening to your journal is a skill often neglected by the very people who would benefit from it. We write a lot in our journals, but then we put them on the shelf and forget about them. We are used to writing, asking to be heard, seen–praying for answers. We often miss the answer when it shows up. And it will show up. That’s one of the benefits of journaling.
For a while, all the writing is pouring out of you in an endless flow. One day, you will find yourself thinking about what you are writing–the words aren’t pouring out on their own. You are paying attention. And all of a sudden, you write something interesting. Profound. An answer to a question you had. You are now in a deep connection to your own wisdom or a wisdom greater than yourself. You have tunneled deep enough to be away from the distraction, and you just dug up an important truth.
Truth is surprising. We recognize it and blink. Sometimes we wish it were something else. But the flash of recognition is the key. You will know. Maybe it’s not the answer you had hoped for, maybe it’s exactly what you need.
Your pen may race on, while your mind hangs on to the answer. You may not want to listen, but you will. You will be drawn back to those words, that flash of recognition. It can be an answer, a key to an answer, or simply a truth you have not believed.
And there it is, on the page in front of you. Underline it. Save it. You may have to finish your thought, your paragraph, your page, but the answer is right there.
You have created the start of a habit. A habit of writing and listening. And when you listen, you’ll find answers. You might have to write a long time to learn to trust yourself, but once you start to listen, you will hear your answers.
—Quinn McDonald is writing a book on inner heroes and inner critics.