It’s neat to think about the learning that comes from the activities we do. Lately, I’ve been reflecting on what I am learning and how I am growing from writing, and especially from writing these blog posts.
Intentionally shifting from writing to record to writing to reflect has accelerated my learning journey. Before starting this blog, the only personal writing that I did was in my journal. I have been a consistent journaler for the past 5 years. My journal serves many purposes – it is a place to practice gratitude, it records memories and events, it lets me vent, and it holds onto feelings and emotions that I’m not yet ready to process. Despite all that I get from journaling, writing in it often feels like a surface-level exercise and a one-directional outlet for my memories and feelings. It was not until I went back to read my cancer journal (in preparation for writing 4 Years Ago, I Had Breast Cancer), that I realized I could use my journal in an even deeper way – it could actually be part of my reflective practice.
Writing this blog has become an important part of my reflection process. There is something about the combination of writing plus my decision to share my writing that has led to better clarity of thought and a deeper reflection. When I journal, it is purely for me. There is no editing or re-writing. It is a one-time-only brain dump of things that I want to remember or that I think I will want to remember. Sometimes, it is even day-old information (i.e., not entirely accurate) when I go back and try to catch up on the days that I missed.
When I write a blog post, it is for me and it is for you. That means, I now care about what I am trying to say, my tone, my vibe, my meaning, and my purpose. I write, re-write, edit, and change directions multiple times. It can take me 4 or 5 attempts (usually more) to get to a decent first draft. And then I usually go through 4 or 5 more drafts after that. It is often painful and frustrating. But, I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Through all of my drafts and edits as well as the simmering of ideas that happen between edits, the end result for me is clarity in my thinking and ultimately, my own learning.
Practicing vulnerability is both a driver for AND a barrier to writing this blog. A few weeks ago, I reflected on how saying YES to starting a podcast unlocked my courage to be vulnerable. I’m still (and probably always will be) a work in progress when it comes to being vulnerable, but I keep at it. Sharing and opening up to others (and myself) has helped me to feel more self-confident, self-accepting, and connected. It has also given me the courage to show my vulnerability in an even more personal way – this blog.
At the same time, it has been easy and comforting to fall back into old habits – leaning into the guarded and muted version of me. This showed up when I got stuck writing a new blog post. I had been trying to write a new post for two weeks. I had lots of ideas. I had clever titles. I had a plethora of notes, random musings, and half-written paragraphs. And still, I was stuck. What was blocking me?
The convenient story I told myself was that it was writer’s block. Well, maybe it was a little bit of writer’s block. But the real truth was that I was operating from a place of fear; a fear of being judged (for my writing, for my thoughts, for choosing to share personal stuff) and a fear of being seen. I tried all sorts of strategies to move past this feeling of fear (e.g., writing in the early morning, listening to “creative” music, talking through my ideas, meditating, having a shower) but nothing was working. Of course, nothing was working – I wasn’t getting to the root of my issue. Once I realized this, I stopped trying my band-aid writer’s block fixes (which, PS, work when it is actually writer’s block).
To get back into the writing groove, I had to unpack what I was afraid of, remind myself why I write this blog, acknowledge that I am the most important judge of me so I could choose to be a critical judge or a supportive judge, and then decide if it was worth the discomfort that I was feeling. I had to accept that fear is part of this process. It’s hard and I wonder if it will get easier. I hope so. The good news (for me) is that my drive to show vulnerability is stronger than my fear of it so I think that there will be many more blog posts to come.
I am my own teacher. As a coach, I also take the time to be coached. Getting thoughts out of my head puts me in a better place to examine, unpack, reframe, and understand them. Coaching has been game changing for my personal development, especially the realization that so much of my learning is already in me.
It has been cool to notice how writing this blog creates a similar experience to being coached. I used to think that writing was having something to say, but now I see it as learning to listen to myself. I just need to be brave enough to ask myself the questions. My friend Lisa (also a coach) recently asked me how I was growing through writing. I hadn’t contemplated writing as a learning opportunity until she asked me the question. It took a moment. And then I answered her. Writing this blog is part of my journey to self-acceptance. Or acceptance in general. And being good with who I am. #coachingworks #writingworks
Learning and growing comes from doing and reflecting. What insights and learning have you gained from the activities you do?