The Essential Diary
Getting to know our emotional world well is a life long task. And it takes patience.
But the benefits are vast.
We have made and are making enormous progress in all branches of science and its applied disciplines and yet, by comparison, we are way behind in the understanding and processing of our emotions.
We can build sophisticated weapons to destroy cities thousands of miles away, or satellites flying overhead.
And yet, critical decision making can go wrong because of poorly managed emotions.
There are efforts now underway to teach children about their emotional world while in school. And yet they have met with resistance.
To not embark in the task of understanding ourselves is to severely limit our possibilities.
In China, today, a regime has positioned itself into power by severely restricting its citizens’ emotional world. That’s what closed surveillance and limits on speech do.
In Europe, Putin started a world because he felt threatened, he tells us. And he may well have but he had reason to be, for he had put severe restraints on what his citizens could and could not say or do.
Any conversation we have treads on an emotional substrate. We feel pleased, not pleased or annoyed as the conversation proceeds, our emotions acting as the gauge that determines whether to continue or not, change tactic or switch topic.
Given the central role of our emotions in our lives, we don’t treat them with the proper care.
To enhance such care keeping a Diary may prove most helpful.
This diary I suggest is not a document onto which notations need to be made every day.
You make them when an idea, passing emotion or past incident catches your attention.
What makes it unique is that it should be only for your eyes. No one should lay eyes on it.
Not your spouse, your parents, your children, your God.
It is only for you.
Because it is only for you, you will be enticed to write down anything that comes to your mind, whether pleasing, shameful, cruel or absurd.
And that is the start of the journey into your mind.
(This idea has been around for a long time, in various forms)
Having made a notation you can then return to it at your convenience, sit with the content and try to explain it to yourself.
‘Why am I ashamed of what I did?
Did I lie?
Did I take advantage of someone?
Did I injure the person?
Was I disloyal?
Was I ungrateful?
Was I petty?
Was I violent?
Why didn’t I behave differently?’
The behavior noted, it is then up to you to seek to understand it.
One thought will trigger another. And once you start, the journey never ends.
But such is the nature of emotions.
You do the work at your own pace, when you find the time and inclination. You’ll know if you’re avoiding the work.
You should be alone when you tend to your diary.
Let your mind wander and make additional notes if you wish. The point is to review the matter,
to turn it around, to look at it from different perspectives.
You may or may not find it healing at first or find you’re not able to tolerate the emotion the notation has taken you to. If so, then you pause until you can review it again.
If the emotions aroused prove to be difficult to manage, then get assistance.
But for most people, the mind has protective devices that lead you to areas it thinks you are able to manage.
Self knowledge is priceless. It lets us learn from our mistakes and helps us make better choices.
Some will say that this diary is not for everybody. I say it is. That’s why only you gets to read it. You’re not competing with anyone but yourself. Understanding your emotions will keep you from being ruled by them.
One other thing. You will learn soon enough, that to make progress you must forgive yourself. And others too.
A Diary that is nurtured and cared for, will help you walk on firmer ground, and the fog ahead you didn’t think was there, will start to lift.
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