I have always been a writer of sorts. Not in the professional sense of writing as a source of income. But rather in the way that I express myself.
As a young girl, and then a young professional woman on Wall Street, I learned very quickly about "filtering" my thoughts. This is different from being an effective communicator. It's a thinking process that occurs simultaneously while speaking. It's the process of choosing what to say (and what not to say) for a variety of reasons whether it be for what's appropriate to the situation, fear of rejection (and any other number of fears), or even packaging thinking to ensure the "right" message is communicated.
This filtering process, while at times can be great wisdom to know what, when, and how to say something, at other times can leave us feeling unexpressed. The unconscious habit of filtering can have the affect of forgetting all of the thoughts and feelings that are being pushed to the side and result in our feeling unheard and unseen - one of the most painful experiences a human being can have.
So I began what now appears to have been a journey with written expression...
- To bring more awareness to what I was filtering, I first incorporated Chris Argyris' right column/left column exercise. I was able to do it right in business meetings and it created a structure and purpose to my doodling while note-taking. This is easy and you don't need anything special. If you look at your business note paper, there is the 80% of the paper - right margin - that you use to write notes on actions and deliverables. In the 20% left margin is where this exercise becomes powerful. Here you right the thoughts and feelings that are going unexpressed. Totally unfiltered. Then at the end of the meeting or the day, you review the right column notes and decide how to work with those right column notes.
- After doing right column/left column for a while I decided to expand what I was writing about and began a personal journal. Here I would write about my day in sort of a diary format. Reflecting on the highs and lows of the days. As a learning professional, I always love asking the question "what did you learn" and this became a part of that exercise.
- Then, I found that there were beautiful journals that could be found in bookstores. What a delicious way to capture my innermost thoughts and memories than in beautiful books. Now I literally collect journal books. Whenever I travel or find myself in Barnes and Nobles, I make sure to stop in the writing section.
- Then about 10 years ago, I began blogging. Inspired by the movie "Julie and Julia", my blogging adventure was about celebrating a milestone birthday year and for an entire year I wrote every day what I was learning in this new chapter of my life.
- Blogging and journaling have stayed with me a deep practice, forms of expression, and now ways of sharing. I incorporate journals and journaling into all my coaching programs and I am writing and blogging fairly regularly.
- My latest adventure with journaling is LIMITING the use of words and using a great deal of imagery and creative expression. While language is clearly a necessary form for communication, it can also be a great limiter and source of misunderstanding. But images and music can take us to deeper awareness. They side-step the filter of the left brain and are powered by the right, non-linear side of the brain.
How do you express yourself? How do you use words and images to know yourself better, before speaking?
My latest adventure with writing and Journals is in our Women Connected Circles where we have created a beautiful, printable journal for each of 7 sessions. I love creating these so much that we're formatting new coaching tools (like Building a Gratitude Practice). We use lots of color and imagery throughout the journals so that women can enjoy the experience of their own journaling process and expression.
This video will introduce you to the topics and journals we've created for Women Connected Circles. And you can learn more about Women Connected Circles here.