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A Written Reflection

As a strong “ideator” who uses “connectedness” in all things and is an extreme extrovert, so much of how I process my thinking and move it forward happens in conversations with people.   It has been a very effective method for incubating, creating, and drawing important connections and meaning – all through the privilege of getting to know people better, engaging with them and further developing these relationships.

Like so many other great things in our lives, I’ve found a down-side to these activities.  As the type of person who likes to chase “the shiny new thing” I often find myself fragmented and frenzied.   My head starts swirling in thoughts and I’m physically jazzed-up from the interaction; often waking up with thoughts in the middle of the night.  I found myself just disappearing from these activities by escaping into my work and not moving any ideas forward as a way to refresh from the hype.  I was stuck in this cycle of rapid frenzied movement followed by stagnation and it felt unhealthy, unbalanced, and even ineffective.

I lacked balance.  Focus was missing  Solitary reflection should replace the stagnation in order to quiet the mind, process and understand, draw meaning, and be able to keep moving forward.

I was privileged to participate in a writing / journaling conference hosted by The People House and The Center for Journal Therapy recently.  I learned that journaling and solitary reflection would accomplish both things:  quiet the mind AND continue to move ideas and thinking forward.  I’ve been diligently applying these techniques and feel more balanced, have more insight, and am moving ideas and thinking forward more rapidly and with a calm that I haven’t had before.

The tagline for the conference was:  I write to know what my heart thinks.  It is so true!  I’m great at asking questions, but have lacked the discipline to pursue finding answers, including listening for those answers.  If you have never written as a technique to move your ideas forward, try it!

Reflective Writing Steps:

  1. Set aside 10-15 uninterrupted and quiet minutes to allow the free-flow of your thoughts.
  2. Pick a question (of yourself, of someone or something else, of God, or whomever).  See following examples.
  3. Use free-form writing:  Begin to write whatever comes to your mind in response to the question. Your writing may result in additional questions that you can respond to now or at another time. Don’t take your pen off the paper.  Even if what’s on your mind is off topic, write it down, get it out-of-the-way, and continue.  Don’t edit your words, spelling or grammar.  If you prefer to use a computer, turn the spell and grammar check tools OFF so they don’t distract while you write.  You are writing to discover, not to produce a written piece for anyone else.
  4. Read and reflect on what you wrote.  When your time is up or your thought have slowed, stop and read through what you wrote.  You may want to underline or circle words or sections that stick out to you.  Then write a brief reflection using statements such as:  “I am surprised by…,” “I notice that…,” “This leads me to wonder/believe/think…,” “As a result, I will [do what].” This has been especially powerful for me.  I have kept an idea/thinking book (aka journal) for a couple of years now, but have never read what I wrote and reflected on the meaning for me.

Some writing prompts / questions:

  • Why do I …? (Ex: …always feel like this person is belittling me?)
  • How can I …?  (Ex: …meet people who do the kind of work I want to do?)
  • What holds me back from …? (Ex: …picking a name and forming the LLC?)
  • What did I learn from …? (Ex: …attending the workshop this morning?)
  • What do I hope to learn from / get out of  …? (Ex: … attending the conference next week)

Try it – it just might transform your thinking and propel you forward in unexpected ways!

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