How to use intuitive journaling for closure & forgiveness
Some refer to it as free writing, or automatic writing. The idea is to set a timer for a certain period of time: one minute, three minutes, five minutes, up to you. As the timer starts, begin writing (with pen and paper) on your journal, without really thinking, without really stopping.
Write whatever crossed your mind.
It doesn’t matter if things appear to sound weird, funny or senseless. The idea is to translate your tangled and busy mind into the paper.
Here’s the secret: DO NOT stop as you write, not even for a split second. Do not think. Just write until your time is up. Follow the chaos of your mind and write everything down. Everything.
You could even write something like, “I don’t know why I am doing this, oh, I’m so hungry, like so, hungry and my foot itches and what should I write this is strange really…”
I like to call this technique ‘intuitive writing’ or ‘intuitive journaling’ because after doing this practice for a while, you will notice the magical moment when your intuition starts talking to you from the chaos of the page.
Here’s the thing: closure is not about something we need to resolve with another person, but something we need to resolve with ourselves. We need a closure not to bridge the gap between our significant other and us, but to close the gap between our beliefs, our values, our inner guidance—and us.
Thus, we can create our own moments of closure, and—hopefully, in time, forgive:
- Prepare a piece of pen and paper (or you can use your journal pages if you like)
- Prepare a timer and set it to 5 minutes
- Now think of a moment/hurtful experience you want to have a closure upon. While doing this and letting your feelings being stirred up, bring to your mind the image of the person who caused you this hurtful experience, imagine this person as a 4 year-old kid and then as an 80 year-old.
- Next, get ready with your pen and paper to do your intuitive journaling. Activate your timer, and for 5 minutes, without stopping, without thinking too much, write a letter of apology from that person to you. It may sound weird at first, but just trust your intuition and write loosely, not stopping at all—and if you’re true to the rules, at the end of the exercise, you’ll find a letter with a voice that is a bit foreign to you: the voice of the other person. Just write whatever crossed your mind. Do not try to think or analyze the person, do not try to correct or edit yourself by saying, “No, he or she won’t be saying this.” If you find it difficult, start the letter with Dear ___(your name), I am sorry for _________ and let your intuition roam free from there.
- Trust, and write as fast as you can without thinking until the time is up.
- When the timer rings, you can stop writing. Or if you feel the push to keep writing mindlessly, continue for another 2-3 minutes.
- When you’re done, you can: 1) mail this letter to yourself or 2) read this letter whenever you feel hurt/emotional as you remember a painful moment/incident involving this particular person.
I don’t believe in the saying that we should forgive.
I don’t think that the word should and forgive go hand in hand together.
Of course, we could always say, “I forgive you,” or “I accept your apology.”
But does saying it means we have truly forgiven someone—or even ourselves?
When we try so hard to forgive, it feels even more difficult. Because when we are thinking about forgiving, automatically, we are thinking about the things that need to be forgiven. We’re thinking about what our significant other (or ourselves) has done that needs to be forgiven. Those thoughts are not necessarily beautiful.
Thus, it feels contradictory.
Saying I-forgive-you is easy.
Forgiving is not.
Many said that forgiveness is the key to closure. And it’s true.
However, we should not push ourselves to forgive when we are not yet ready. To forgive, we need to go through a process of understanding our heartaches, our feelings, and ourselves.
Most of the times, forgiveness doesn’t come the moment we say I-forgive-you.
Forgiveness, often, arrives when we least expect it.
There will be a day when we feel light, happy, and carefree. The day when we’re doing the things we love, having fun with the people we adore, and feeling good about ourselves. And right there and then, we will experience a flashback of an uncomfortable moment we had with someone who (either knowingly or unknowingly) hurt us.
And when that moment comes, we will feel fine. The memory stays, but it doesn’t affect us. It doesn’t bring us down. It doesn’t make us doubt ourselves. It is only a memory.
That is the moment when we experience forgiveness.
We forgive when we can access the memory of something unfavorable that once happened to us—and feel okay with that. We know it’s a part of our lives, but we don’t feel the rush of feelings or emotions associated with that particular memory any longer.
We don’t forget. We remember.
But we remember the memory as a moment, not as a feeling.
So, say I-forgive-you if it feels right. However, there’s no need to push ourselves to forgive and forget when we are not ready. For the time being, feel the feeling we need to feel. Take good care of ourselves. Build an intimate relationship with ourselves and our closest ones. Focus on improving ourselves. Focus on our growth.
When the time comes, we know that all that needs to be forgiven has been forgiven.
PS: More exercises on intuitive journaling can be found on my book, BREAK, HEARTS: AND BE ALRIGHT—a playbook for creative people to deal with their heartbreaks. You can get your copy by emailing my lovely book keeper, here.