Create a Journal Committee
Corinne Pratz © 2001
Sometimes the simple act of writing in your journal can bring clarity to confusion and solutions to the problems you are facing. It never ceases to amaze me how it just happens that I suddenly figure something out after I've just written about my feelings and dilemma.
But when this isn't enough, there is a far more directed way to find the answers you seek. By creating a "committee" within yourself and on the pages of your journal, problem-solving takes on a different twist.
Start by identifying the problem in as specific a way as you can. For example, here's one of mine:
I don't know how to get everything done on time with house guests here for two weeks.(Try as I might, I couldn't get everything done before my folks arrived for a visit from Alberta. It's been almost a year since we've visited and I am really close with my mother. I couldn't wait for them to arrive.) I feel torn and frustrated.
The next step is to identify the parts of me that are in conflict - the committee members. These can be defined as emotions, roles or characteristics. For example:
Practicality - this is the logical thinking part of me
Hospitality - this is the part of me that really wants my folks to have a great time and to enjoy their visit to the fullest.
Daughter - this is the part of me that misses my mom and wants to have plenty of time to share our thoughts, news and the like.
Freelance Writer - this is the part of me that has a deadline and needs to meet this. It is also the part that knows that work means being paid!
Mom - this is the part of me that has to tend to my kid's needs and household issues
(These are parts of me that are in conflict)
Now, allow each part of this committee to "say" what they feel or think about the problem as you stated it.
Daughter - "All I want to do is spend time doing whatever strikes our fancy and enjoy every possible moment with my mom. The last thing I want to worry about is time restrictions! After all, it's been almost a year and who knows how long it will be before we get a chance to visit again..."
Freelance Writer - "Well, like it or not, I have to earn a living and I have a responsibility to meet my deadlines and get the work done. This is the way it is and they'll (my folks) will just have to accept this! They know what it's like..."
Mom - "Well, there's no real conflict here! My mom helps out with the kids, work and other things that need to be done. In this way, their visit is helpful. Besides, I am so glad the kids have the chance to visit with them as well..."
Hospitality - "I feel terribly guilty when I am working and not interacting with the folks. It's my job to be as gracious and hospitable as possible. I am terribly frustrated having to juggle work with time visiting..."
Practicality - "There are only so many hours in a day and stressing out over this is only making things worse. I cannot be nearly as productive with the time I do take when I am stressed. Writing doesn't flow. Further, I feel far more tired than usual, making things even harder..."
You get the idea. Using the "practicality" part of me last works best as this usually brings solutions for me. The further I wrote on this area, the clearer my decision came.
In case you're wondering, what I ended up doing was getting a short extension on my deadlines, working less when they are here visiting, ridding myself of stress and guilt and sharing the quality time that I desired.
Sometimes, it takes more than one "committee meeting" to arrive at a solid decision and sometimes I figure it out before I've finished writing everything out. It depends on the problem and how connected I am to the different parts of myself that are challenged with it.
The next time you're faced with something, no matter how tough it is, try this technique. You may find what you need before you know it.
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