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A New Perspective For Your Journal


Do you dislike the preponderance of "I" statements in your journal writing? You know, your tendency to use journaling as a good old reliable data dump: "I hate my life. I can't stand my bosses, I feel fat and bloated, I, I, I¶!"

When you journal regularly, now and then you might slip into this kind of relentless focus on yourself. To a certain extent, it's very useful. You need a private getaway and your health definitely benefits from unloading your griefs on a daily basis.

But at some point, you may become dissatisfied with this approach. All of a sudden you may take an intense disliking to the first person singular. You want to write from a different perspective, somehow. You want to discover something new. It's not all about you, for Pete's sake.

But it is all about you, you know this; who else would it be about? You journal for your own sake, for your own sanity and enjoyment. But to deepen your understanding, sometimes you have to insert some distance.

Fortunately, that's not so hard to do. Just start writing in the third person and see how your journal unfolds.

This technique shifts the use of the first person perspective of "I" to "he" or "she" statements. This simple swapping of pronouns helps you to insert some emotional distance into a situation and view it from a broader perspective. It's a very useful technique for those times when you are lost in the realm of feeling and need to cultivate a more rational approach.

Here is an example. You could write, "I feel overwhelmed. I'm drowning in a sea of responsibilities and options and I'm not sure what to do next."

Instead, try writing, "She feels overwhelmed. She's drowning in a sea of responsibilities and options and she's not sure what to do next."

Instead of holding your words and images inside, by writing in the third person, you are observing your thoughts and reactions from the outside. You are making it possible to see things in a new light.

The technique can be especially exciting when you use it in combination with a suggested journaling prompt. Let's check it out.

Say the prompt is:

Sit down with your Journal. Take several breaths. Have a conversation with your body. Let him/her write a monologue if it wants.

The feeling dump journal entry for this prompt might be something like:

This chair is uncomfortable. What am I feeling? I don't know. What am I feeling? I feel sort of sick. What am I feeling? Quit asking me that! What am I feeling? I want to cry.

Try putting the experience and perceptions of your body and your body-mind dialog into the third person. Tell the story as if you are an invisible narrator.

Her body sat rigidly on the chair, while her mind questioned: what are you feeling? Her body stiffened even more. She asked again, "What are you feeling?" and her body twisted as if in pain. When she asked a third time, something in her body snapped, and she began to cry.

Or another example: In the usual first person, it might be:

Gee it feels good to sit down. I'm so excited, though. What's going on? Can't wait for tomorrow. Yahoo! What are you feeling? Guess that's obvious (rolling my eyes).