59: How to Journal for Breakthroughs


Welcome friends to Episode #59 of the Own Your Best Life Podcast. If you’ve got a lot on your mind or desire to unearth your creativity – I’m going to share with you a practice of journaling that I’ve used to help me and many others move forward in life. Breakthroughs await!

I think of journaling as writing with the pressure taken off of it. In a world where we have pressure to perform, complete and create – having a place where the pressure is removed can feel like a relief. When I began journaling, it was at a time when I was willing and open to try new things in a pursuit of understanding myself more. I had been doing so much of what I felt I “should” do that this idea of journaling felt like an entirely creative and different pursuit. It was.

I began with Julia Cameron’s morning pages. I would write 3 pages each morning for 12 week’s straight. The idea of this is that what often stops us from being creative and expressing ourselves,- is this pressure of trying to create something. The simple act of showing up, writing what is on your mind and heart – without the expectation of it being a performance for anyone else – allows you to just write. So I did. I wrote about what I did the day before. I wrote about ideas I had. I wrote about where I was on my journey of self discovery. What I was feeling and what I was noticing. I wrote about musings and the mental chatter that was in my mind. When I began, it felt a bit stiff. The question came up each morning as I started with the task to fill 3 pages, “What would I write about?” As the weeks wore on, it became easier. 

Writing this way allowed me to find my own voice. It allowed me to understand who I was when I didn’t try to be someone. If we’re not trying to be someone, what would we say, be, or do. Many of us arrive on this journey of self-actualization and realization and wonder what our own voice even sounds like. What would I say if no one was listening but me? What would I want to do if I were to please no one except myself? When you’ve spent a lifetime working to serve others or to please others it can feel unnerving to be so structure-less in any area. 

It can be strange to think that this is difficult for us as self-centered human beings, but it can be. Especially, if you feel like someone who is really adept at pleasing others or who has spent a lifetime learning how to manage other people’s emotions, feelings and reactions. 

When we don’t know our own voice, we have trouble making decisions that are born out of our own desires. We have trouble following our desires. We have trouble leading the way. The certainty that we wish to have in our lives is the same certainty that those who lead seem to possess in spades. What would it feel like to know deeply what it is we want or desire, even when we feel anxious or uncertain about the path forward?

This kind of journaling, named morning pages from the time of day in which you’re to complete them – helps to relieve anxiety. It puts words to your concerns. It gets the mental clutter out of your head and onto paper. You begin to examine, sift and weed out all the things that are on your mind. I found that I became more clear about whatever topic or idea I was writing about through the process of journaling. Morning pages are a refuge when you’re not sure what to do or where to go. You just write.

Over time, journaling morphed into a place where I can overcome a problem. I would use journaling as a way to share my thoughts and struggles. I’d write about a decision I needed to make and this ability to structure my thoughts allowed me to see the possible solutions. 

I’ve also journaled on my goals, asking myself what it is I truly want to be, do and have in my life. I journal on how I want to feel and what I want to receive today. I’ve journaled on gratitude, which helps me to reinforce positive moments in my life, relive those experiences and rewire my brain to scan for positivity. I’ve journaled on intuitive development, my first time going into the Akashic records, pre-cognitive moments and what I saw.

Tips on Journaling:

  1. Journal on strong emotions. For example, when I journal on goals that I have no emotion about (for example, making a certain amount of money in 5 years time) – it’s not helpful. This means that journaling on goals that feel more meaningful for me (asking what that money will allow me to do) is more impactful. This is how you move from just writing down a random list that feels unachievable to writing down how you want to live your life.
  2. Wisdom feels spacious. If I’m looking for a path forward, it is usually found in the answers where I am creating something new. A new way of thinking about how much time I have, the ability for me to put what’s most important front and center, the desire to remove what’s not essential. 
  3. Journal on questions. I have a few prompts that I like to use that allow me self-coach myself through situations. Sometimes, we’re not asking ourselves high quality questions about the way we live our lives, so we feel like we’re not living high quality lives.

Here are a few prompts to get you started:

  • What does it feel like to take responsibility for my life?
  • How do I want to feel today?
  • How do I want to be?
  • What do I want to give?
  • What do I want to receive?
  • What am I grateful for?
  • What should I know right now?

Here’s a message for you on that last question. I’m going to share with you a passage I wrote in response to that question, “what should I know now?”

“There is an unlimited path forward if I just keep walking. Just keep going. Today, I had this brief glimpse of a thought that was this: if I keep doing this thing, this way – listening and acting from a place of alignment – I may have the option to…… That was such an amazing thought. What if all it took was to put that timeline and expectation on a shelf. Let the universe sort it all out. What if there was a path? What if all it took was to listen to yourself to discover the path? That acting upon these nudges may be the only thing we have to do in our lives?”

If you haven’t tried journaling and want to start with morning pages, I’d highly recommend Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artist’s Way” and either her accompanying morning pages workbook or a blank notebook of your own. I’d also recommend giving it a try to see how it feels to write your thoughts down without expectation. It is often we give of ourselves without expecting anything in return, that we’ll receive the most. The paradox is that your next breakthrough may just come when you’re ready to give up the expectation that you must create something and just get into the process of creating.

Let me know what resonates with you and how you use this. In this month’s Leadership group coaching, we’ll be covering the process and energy of achieving. We’ll dive into practices of achieving that don’t burn us out, but allows us to utilize our time most effectively. We’ll also dive into journaling for breakthroughs and results even more. If you enjoy these kinds of topics, you can go to www.mayempson.com/contact to learn more.

Here are the resources mentioned today:

Disclosure: As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn small commissions from qualifying purchases made through links in this post.

If you’re ready to Own Your Best Life, I want to invite you to watch the free training on how to Stand Out and Lead, using spiritual, high-performance strategies. You can access the training at https://may-empson.mykajabi.com/stand-out-and-lead.

You can then apply to join my Spiritual Achiever® program, where you’re going to create your next chapter with spiritual and high-performance strategies to achieve time and financial freedom using my proven method. It’s risk-free. You either start seeing results within your first month or I give you your money back. Schedule your call HERE. We’ll see you inside.

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