methods work. Use an intensive journal to connect with the
deepest processes guiding your life.
Wouldn't it be fascinating to read, when you are 60, the major
events of every day of your life? Diaries are also excellent ways of
recording your progress in a self-help project which may not be
obvious otherwise. Record your daily successes and your failures (see
chapter 2). Recordings done immediately following a self-improvement
effort are also good places to figure out what you did right or wrong,
i.e. what self-instructions worked well and what self-defeating
thoughts undermined your efforts, etc. Insight into the causes of a
behavior or feeling can be gained by using a diary for a "behavioral
analysis" (see chapters 4 and 11) in which you note the antecedents
and consequences of the target behavior. Avoid recording just a
schedule of your activities for the day. Self-help journals focus on your
self-help efforts and goals, on your relationships, and on your feelings.
Journal writing in which you pour out your anger, fears, frustrations,
disappointments, etc. has been found to reduce anxiety and
depression as well as improve your health. It is best to write in your
diary every day, getting the pent up feelings out as soon as possible.
Diaries can, obviously, serve many purposes.
Another type of journal seeks much deeper insight and guidance; it
hopes to find life's meaning and goals, not to give it meaning or
achieve goals. Let's discuss the latter kind of journal at length.
Ira Progoff (1975) has years of experience teaching people to use
a special journal to gain insight into the unfolding process of life, into
the unconscious creative and spiritual forces--the "inner resources"--
within us. How does he do this? He speaks of trusting in the self-
healing wisdom of life. He believes every life has purpose and
meaning--"something is being worked out within us"--even though it is
unknown to us and unaided by our intellectual minds. He tells of
decisions, which can't be made by conscious thought, being formed by
a mysterious "vital force" in each life.
His journal "workshops" are not for talking and interacting; they
are quiet places to explore alone your deepest and most intimate
awarenesses and write them down; they are "working-in-your-journal
shops" that focus on your history, friendships, conflicts, love, spiritual
experiences, repeated dreams, moods, hopes and so on.
In the first step, you concentrate on the current or recent (last few
years) stage of your life. Make brief notes of the major happenings in
a section of your journal called The Period Log. Do not give details,
don't analyze or try to understand. At least make cursory notes about
your memories of recent (a) relationships--just jot down names, (b)
work situation, (c) health, (d) social group and activities, and (e) any
dramatic or especially meaningful event. You will return to these
topics. Limit yourself to an hour or so.