What if I Write but Still Cannot See?

If you're anything like me, you've been writing stuff down for as long as you can remember.

You've heard repeatedly how journaling (in any form) helps you spot patterns, resolve issues, and give you insight into what direction you need to be taking.

Saying it's cathartic is an understatement.

But what happens if you're writing everything down but still can't see the problem?

Dear Scribbler

Q. What if I get stuck while journaling and can't get to the root of the problem or my frustration?

A. The goal is to get it out.

Writing it all down, no matter how it looks, no matter how it sounds, no matter how it makes you feel, no matter what order the letters or the words happen in, is critical.

Just. Get. It. Out.

That's the first order of business.

Write until you feel better, less anxious, calmer, less angry, like you can focus on whatever it is you were trying to focus on. When you finish, resume your task.

The only goal of the first part is to feel better. You need to be able to function without certain levels of distraction.

Figuring out the root of the issue might take a little longer. That part everyone experiences differently.

As you live life or keep track of it in your journals, you'll notice that some patterns resurface repeatedly for years (sometimes less) until we start seeing common threads.

Often we see symptoms of problems like seething frustrations on the job, breakdowns in relationships, difficulty coping with emotions, or a generalized feeling of discontent, but we can't always pinpoint why.

For any scenario in which I cannot readily identify the problem, I've learned to ask myself one question:

👉 What do I really want? 👈

Not what my parents want, not what society wants, not what my religion wants -- no.

For once, what do I want? What should be happening with the situation that's bothering me?

Please keep in mind you're not going to disobey anything you shouldn't be violating, and you are not betraying yourself or anyone around you by simply asking a question.

Asking yourself this question and allowing yourself to answer it with 100% raw, savage honesty does not in any way, shape or form violate the rules of society, another individual, your job, a law, or your religion.

Be honest about it. I want - fill in the blank -. And I want --- fill in some more stuff.

You're not writing a college paper or a cover letter for a job application.

You will not even necessarily act on what you’re writing about. You’re just asking and answering a question.

You are alone with yourself. Right here. Right now. Ask yourself, what is IT that YOU WANT.

Write it down.

Writing everything down all the time allowed me to look back, see patterns, gain clarity, and provide the appropriate space to be 100% brutally honest about how I felt and what I really wanted.

Once you see what you want (you'll know it when the answer comes out of you), only later today, tomorrow, in the coming months, can you "chew on it" for a bit and process the different pieces of it.

  • Why do you feel that way?

  • What is it about the scenario that you've named that feels right to you?

  • Is it the situation or circumstance you want or the feelings and possibly other freedoms that come with it? (The later is more common than you think.)

  • If it's the deeper feelings you're after or for things to feel resolved for you, what other ways can those feelings be accomplished?

Now you can start exploring these things.

As you think and process each part of it, you're going to find what you want may morph and change and even become clearer in detail.

  • Your thoughts matter.

  • Your needs and your wants matter.

  • How you feel matters.

You can ask yourself questions and develop raw and honest answers.

Knowing what you want helps you see what isn’t happening in your life and can shine the spotlight on areas you may haven’t noticed yet.

Combined, these two things can help you find the root of your frustration or problem and the direction to start changing it.

One Line

One-liners are sentences meant to prompt your memories and stimulate your creativity. Use them, if you want, to see what your brain comes up with. Do you see an image in your mind, feel something, remember something?

Whatever it is, start writing it down. There's no right or wrong answer. 🥳

There were more stars out that night than I had ever seen before.


Remember when you were last outside at night, whether alone or not. Remember looking up at the sky. Write what you remember seeing and what it made you think of.


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