In a conversation with a client recently, I shared that I had been regularly journaling for the past 15 years. He asked me what I found valuable about writing out my thoughts.
I told him that for me, a lot of the value lay in the ability to go back months or years, and spy on what younger D. was working on mentally and emotionally. His next question was what I had learned by going back and looking through those journals.
“I learned that I keep working on the same shit over and over.”
And that’s the truth. What a decade and a half of journaling has shown me is that there are patterns that just keep repeating. I have the same negative thoughts that pop up, the same limiting behaviors, and the same hiccups in my life (and the same wins, too).
Every Day You Wake Up the Same Person
I don’t wake up as a different person with different experiences and memories and issues every day. There’s a foundational base that I’m always working with. If I want to grow, I can’t ignore that and pretend I have a different story. For me, it’s about getting better based on where I have been. In the same way, you have to grow based on the history that you’ve already lived.
I’m fortunate in that many of my patterns are now happening at a “higher level”, so I am improving my ability to navigate through life. But in the end, most of what I’m working on as a human in my personal and professional life is just a different flavor of the same old thing.
That’s not a bad thing. Because my journal entries also help me realize that if I’m working on the same stuff, then I’ve been down this road before. I have successfully moved through that pattern before, whatever it is. So today, in this moment, all I need to do is work on moving forward. I’ve done it before…I have the evidence. That gives me some confidence and lets me relax a bit.
So now we’re getting to the end of the year. We mull over where we’ve been and where we want to go. As you are making your plans for next year, and thinking about your New Year’s Resolutions, understand that they’ll probably be ones that you made before. And that’s OK. Just go to work on them and create a better version of your patterns.