100 Ways To Live A Better Life – 8. Keep A Journal

Write down you feelings, your ideas, your goals, your activity. Journaling is by far one of the most useful things I’ve done to change my life for the best. It works in such a silent, yet effective way. All you need is pen and paper. The first use for it is therapeutical and this is … Read more 100 Ways To Live A Better Life – 8. Keep A Journal

How To Create A Habit In 15 Days

Most of our life is lived by habits. We learn how to ride a bike, how to drive a car, we even learn how to speak and read. And then we do all of these with minimum effort and implication. Basically, all of these are habits. They allow us to focus on other things while … Read more How To Create A Habit In 15 Days

Therapeutical Talking And Writing

Every time I talk about something that was on my mind for a lot of time, I have the tendency to forget about it shortly after. Just talking about things that really were on my head seems to make them disappear afterwards. I had this impression a lot of times. Lately, I experienced this almost on any topic I am thinking about. Expressing my thoughts in words, written or talked, made the topic vanish. It’s like giving the thought some shape pushes it out of my brain, into another realm.

I had this going on for many years. I ruminated about something for months, making it bigger and bigger in my head, and then, all of a sudden, expressed it violently. Either in form of a journal entry, a blog entry, or sometimes in a fight or controversy with somebody else. After the eruption, the inside volcano magically disappeared. I even forgot that there was a volcano in that place. Shifted my attention to something else, and of course, started another ruminating session on a different topic, soon to be ended with another eruption, in several days, weeks, or months.

This chain of reactions lead me to the concept of therapeutically talking or writing. In today’s blog post I’ll try to understand what are the reasons for this therapeutical dimension of talking. Why is this happening, what are the triggers and what are the limits of this behavior. Is this a good thing, a bad thing or just a thing that I have? We’ll see about that together.

Healing Talking

During the last 5-6 years I started to pay more attention to this phenomenon. I monitored those “eruptions” and the subtle mechanism behind them. Gradually isolated similar events and tried to build on a pattern. It seemed that every confusion, fear, worry or lack of trust was in fact a root for a ruminating session. Not being able to express in the very moment my feelings about that confusion or fear pushed it back into my mental backyard, converting them in seeds of some huge wild-growing plants. 

Without paying attention to those plants, they grew until they started to shade my normal thinking patterns. They grew so big that they took some of the whole garden light. So big that I was forced to confront them. And the only immediate action I could take was to cut them out. Talking them out loud, writing about them, bringing them into conversations or fights. I just cannot leave in the dark, so I had to eliminate the obstruction, most of the time by violently expressing it.

After I eliminated those huge ugly wild-growing plants, the backyard was clean again. No need for another confrontation, my mental clarity was not obstructed anymore. Those wild-growing plants were out for good, so the very topic that generated them was forgotten.

This pattern was so powerful that it become my way of life. Almost everything that wasn’t managed was staying somewhere back, waiting to reach an “explosion” point. After expressing my feelings out loud, the problem disappeared. I went on this rollercoaster for years, until I started to feel annoyed about something.

I didn’t realize in the beginning what was my annoyance. But things around me started to lose consistency. I was forgetting stuff, more and more stuff and more and more often. If there was something that I was already “erupted” on, I even avoided direct confrontation. I knew from the beginning that this will lead to a huge wild-growing plant that will need to be cut in a painful storm of words, so I was keeping the distance. I didn’t engage in a lot of activities, started to work less, to keep honest relationships away, to avoid social interaction. All of that was before a source of pain expressed by words, so it had to be avoided.

But that was even worse. My way of dealing with negative emotions or situations was keeping me from experiencing a true and sincere life. Everything was thrown back and vomited weeks after in order to keep me clean. And between those periods I was almost invisible. I wasn’t doing much on my own. It was this chain of non-confrontation and therapeutical talking that took command of me. It was an auto pilot.

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Power Blogging With Mac Journal – GTD Style

I started to use Mac Journal 2 years ago. Initially I was using it only for my journaling activities. I needed something a little more versatile than my plain text file structure, and with some searching facilities integrated. Fortunately, Mac Journal proved to have all this, and even more. I soon discovered that I can remotely publish to my blogs from within Journal, download posts into it (for backup or just convenience) and brainstorm my future posts.

During the past few months, since I decided to make from blogging my main activity – after selling my online publishing business – I started to use Journal intensively. In this post I’ll share how I use Mac Journal for blogging, how I set up my blogging environment and how I applied, using Mac Journal’s powerful “smart journals” feature, a GTD-like blogging scaffold.

Setting Up A Remote Blog From Within Mac Journal

This is not a mandatory step, as you can always use your online blogging admin interface, but it might be of interest. You can add a blog to your journal by selecting the option “Edit blog server” from the “Journal” menu. A pop-up with some simple options will appear. If you’re on a wordpress set up, as most of the people, you should check the “Movable Type” type of your publishing method. A good idea is to add “xmlrpc.php” to your post URL and the admin username. That’s it, you’re now connected to your blog and can start publish remotely. You can even download the entries from your blog into Mac Journal, by choosing “Download entires from blog…” from the same “Journal” menu. Of course, you can have more than one blog set up, if you have more than one.

Establish Your Blogging Habits

Mac Journal lets you apply some sort of meta data to your posts. That will not be transferred to your blog, but it’s a convenient way to organize your blogging habits. Some of that meta data is: status, priority and ranking. There are also others like: tags, annotations or even colored label, if you want, which can be used for some neat visual effects. Let’s see how we can use this meta data in order to set up a more productive blogging environment.

First of all, you need a congruent blog routine for this to work. If you’re going to use this on a daily basis, you have to establish some rules for your idea brainstorming or future posts. My data input set up is like this: whenever I add an idea for a post, I also add the status, which is most of the time “Not Started”, for ideas that are just popping out of my head, the priority, which can be any number from 1 to 5, and a rating and color label (this is only for internal auditing purposes).

The priority number is used for slipping up posts into “Next Posts” and “Someday / Maybe” posts and it uses a 3/4 threshold. Meaning any priority between 1 and 3 (inclusive) will go on the “Someday / Maybe” posts, and any priority between 4 (inclusive) and 5 will go into “Next Posts”. “Someday /Maybe” and “Next Posts” are smart journals. And they can get really smart, you’ll see. The rating and label are just metrics for auditing my blog activity. With a color label I can see at a glance how many working post I have, how many published, and so on.

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Journaling versus Blogging

Back in 2004 I started to keep a journal. It was basically a folder on my Linux powered laptop, with a bunch of unorganized files floating around. Everything was written hastily using vi, an editor which may be considered somehow cumbersome by the average computer user. Those were the days when my programming skills were … Read more Journaling versus Blogging