I was suffering at this moment. I felt as if my emotional walls were crumbling, squeezed between what I knew in my intuition was right, but for fear of judgment and the guilt that might accompany it. I was here before. So, I broke out my journal and went back to revisit that point in time. When I looked back at that moment and what I wrote, it felt surreal. In that moment, my past self was guiding me and coaching me forward – in this moment.
the truth: We all struggle, stumble, and our asses are handed to us at one time or another (sometimes again and again). life is tough. Sometimes, navigation can be almost impossible because we are overwhelmed by responsibilities, challenges, and changes. We all like to think (or hope) that our rational mind will take the lead in anxious moments of turmoil, but our emotions can snatch us away. Rather than directing us forward, our emotional responses can exacerbate chaos and create confusion. Brian Brown addressed the truth of this when she said that we think not of beings that sometimes feel… but that “emotional beings that think sometimes.”
Obstacle: Everyone benefits from the ability to release, process, and synthesize emotions. It shouldn’t be all about sex, women being more skilled, equipped and willing to embrace their emotions and what they mean. Through the generations, men have been taught to resist dealing with emotions because we fear judgment, ridicule, and expulsion from the tribe. It takes courage to break away from this camp of thought. This is especially true if you grew up in a culture of “shake it off,” “suck it,” or, my favorite, “rub some dirt in it.” We feel emotions, but instead of confronting and processing them, we install them. Then they may later exit in stress-stressful toxic patterns that can affect our health or relationships. Processing feelings without the benefit of writing them down can feel like you’re trying to do brain surgery for yourself, a frustrating attempt to remove, examine, and understand why we feel the way we do.
The solution: Journaling is one of the best self-care and wellness practices I’ve ever discovered to maintain clarity and flexibility. Blogging allows us to get ideas out of our heads onto paper, creating a more reflective and objective perspective on what we are going through emotionally. It allows us to unwind our limitations, gain a clearer perspective, bring out the positivity, and provide space for mental breathing to tackle difficult challenges. There is no formula for doing this, so don’t get in your way. Just write down how you feel, get it out of your head, and on paper. And yes, I recommend writing it down because there is a magical association between pen and paper and the moving hand that you don’t fulfill on the computer.
the benefits: Journaling is a frequent practice that allows you to capture emotional upsets and put them on paper so that you can explore and understand them. It allows us to question and fact-check the stories we tell ourselves about what we’ve been through, talk about our nonsense, show empathy in our struggles, and become a better friend and coach for ourselves. It allows us to create a precious decision space between what we think and feel – and how we act on it. In my blogging practice for many years, I can see the direct impact on the days I work versus the days I don’t. When I journal, I am calmer, more patient, empathetic, solution-oriented, compassionate towards myself and others, more resilient, and I feel a stable inner peace. I’ve unpacked the emotional baggage. In essence, I’m much happier. When I don’t journal for a few days, things feel fine.
I am a registered member of the Ottawa Tribe and have served groups such as the Intel Corporation, NASA, Mayo Clinic, Disney, the U.S. Army, and more than 500 tribal nations in the last 25 years, showing them how our warriors put into practice the principles of staying strong, resilient, leading with courage, and giving our best.
Traditionally, our warriors have had to “vent” to be able to shake off the pain of trauma, loss, and struggle so that it doesn’t haunt them or weigh them down on their next journey. This came from a process of emotional cleansing during the ceremonies and enabled them to remain strong in their role as warriors. We can create that for ourselves, when we add that sacred recording time into our lives. My tribe has two ways of learning: Kendoswin is “mental learning” or logic, which is important in the world but incomplete. Pocadoin is the learning that comes to us during silence, reflection and solitude. It is deep, creates life-altering clarity, and can come to us when we do a journal. It is a gift we give ourselves. We can’t provide that when we’re constantly overstimulated, drowning in distraction, running around with our hair on fire. We have to take the time or it won’t happen. Diaries are a discipline, a practice, and a ritual.
Here are some guidelines for creating your own.
What you will need: Nothing fancy here, just a pen or pencil and a notebook.
When do you do it: Start with five minutes a few times a week, and writing a few sentences is great. Once you get into the rhythm, set aside more time, and you’ll train your thoughts until they become easier. Build at least 3-5 times a week for 10-20 minutes. Any time during the day can work, but I feel morning is best because there is clarity and calm before the day’s chaos begins. At the end of the day it can also be powerful.
Where do you do it: You can have a quiet space anywhere. It can be in your home, in the garden or in the coffee shop.
How do I do it: just write. Write down how you feel, what you think, and feel free to release any feelings you want. Be outrageous and weak. There are no rules and no limits. And no judgment. This is by you and for you! The most important thing is that the more honest your post, the more powerful the practice will be. The last person we want to lie to is ourselves. Some days you’ll write half a page, some days you’ll write a few days. What matters is that you do it.
Why: Read the article again!
DJ Vanas is a registered member of the Ottawa Tribe and a former US Air Force officer. He is a thought leader, speaker, producer and author of three books, his most recent book is The Warrior Within (Penguin Random House). DJs show groups like Intel, NASA, Subaru, Disney, the US Army, Mayo Clinic, and more than 500 tribal nations, how to use traditional warrior principles to stay strong, resilient, lead bravely, and deliver our best no matter the circumstances. He was also the host of the PBS show Discover Your Warrior’s Soul. To contact a DJ or to talk about inquiries, please visit www.nativediscovery.com
For access to exclusive equipment videos, celebrity interviews, and more, Subscribe to YouTube!