All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.
Introduction to Truth Pages
An important part of personal growth is introspection. And when we do this in writing it becomes a powerful tool of self-awareness and self-development. I call my introspective writing journal the ‘Truth Pages’.
I define introspective writing as writing that helps you express your thoughts, ideas, and emotional state in an ideological way rather than in a narrative. It is a holding place of your experiences without becoming a description of your life events.
In that sense, your Truth Pages journal is not a planner, where you plan your tasks, meetings, goals, etc. It is not a ‘diary’ in the sense that it does not hold a historical record of your day’s events, the people you met, the places you went. Rather, it is a place where your emotional and intellectual response to all that happens in your life is recorded. For instance, whereas it does not contain a listing of the places you went to, it does contain an expression of how you felt and what you thought when you went there. Similarly, the names of people you interact with are not noted here, but who you become as a result is revealed in these pages.
On the pages of your Truth Pages, you can place all the truths about your Self and your life experiences, unfiltered and untarnished. Your Truth Pages allow you to be You in the purest sense of that word. The Truth Pages are not about what you should be but rather an honest and wholehearted acknowledgment of who you are. All aspects of your personality – emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual, get full and fair representation in these pages.
An unexamined life is not worth living.
When you know where you are and have a clear idea of where you want to be, you can effectively chart a path towards your goals. This is necessary to live an intentional life. Yet, we must deliberately separate our goal setting and target chasing exercises from this ritual. Although goal setting is a natural outcome of self-knowledge, it shouldn’t both be pursued at the same time that you are trying to tell your Truth. Self-knowledge essentially comes first. Goals can only be set or revised when our self-awareness increases. Therefore it is important we learn to tell our Truth first and plan our lives next. If we don’t separate these two exercises, we might find ourselves spending precious time and energy on chasing goals that are not aligned to our life’s purpose.
Benefits of telling your truth
The biggest benefit of introspective writing is that it helps you know yourself better. It gives you a safe space to unpack and truly confront your thoughts and emotions. What can come to surface may be hidden talents, latent desires, unpolished ideas, unprocessed grief, and uncelebrated joys.
Self Knowledge and a pathway to intentional living
There are parts of you, facets of your personality that are hidden from the world. More importantly, they are often unacknowledged by you. When you establish a practice to put paper to pen every day, with the intent of examining yourself, you open the door for immense self-knowledge.
Your knowledge of your self allows you to lead an aware and intentional life.
Instead of constantly reacting to people and events, you now put yourself in a position to choose the people and events that you desire for yourself. For example, it may be that you have a difficult relationship, and every day you confront a challenge on that front. Every day you try to solve yet another issue in that relationship. But when you sit down with yourself and create a little distance from everyday events, you may find that you don’t want that relationship in the first place. Or that you don’t want a relationship with that person. In that light then, all your energy in trying to improve that relationship is misdirected. Repairing that relationship has then been a goal you did not choose but something you did in response to everyday challenges.
This practice will let you see yourself for who you are. You will see your merits and flaws as you sit in this place of objective review of yourself. For example, if, in your daily interactions, you have been acting out of fear, jealousy, or any other insecurity, your Truth Pages will serve as a mirror and show you these behaviors for yourself and impartially analyze them. You may not be aware of these counterproductive patterns when you are engaging in that behavior, but when you sit down to write your truth Pages, you will start to see glimpses of them. When you learn about such self-defeating behaviors, you have a chance to correct them.
We can’t win every battle or get everything we desire. There are failures in life and there are losses that may plague us for life such as the death of a loved one, a failed relationship, or a lost friendship. These events give us grief that we can’t ever recover fully from but when we write about these hurts and pains, we come to terms with them. Having accepted these battle scars, we learn to live our lives again and once again have the confidence to take on another project, get into another relationship, and make a new friend.
In addition to the big losses, there are the little ones – the small slights and injustices of everyday life. Although small, these hurts remain in your mind. When you let them stay unacknowledged, they can have damaging long term effects such as reduced self-confidence or the inability to establish and enforce boundaries in relationships.
When you identify these losses and talk about them to yourself, you learn to understand the source and in many cases the solution to these problems.
In the process of telling your truth, there will be a few latent desires that come up. All your desires may not be fulfillable. But even those that are within your reach stay unacknowledged and therefore unfulfilled in the back of your mind. Find them, and fulfill them. Be your own champion, be your own Santa.
As we engage in our daily jobs, family lives, and other social activities, we experience brief glimpses of what could be great ideas. During the day, fulfilling our roles and in the general business of our lives, we fail to take the time to acknowledge and evaluate these ideas. Having a quiet time each day to spend time with our thoughts and spell them out in our journal, helps surface these ideas. Some of them, you may consider unworthy of pursuit but others may become your life goals.
This is another virtue that we fail to practice during the day. When you start narrating your responses to life, you will notice how little attention we give to all the bountiful gifts we have in our lives. And when we are done narrating our difficulties, we will see how outnumbered they are by our blessings.
This powerful tool will help you build a relationship with your Self. By expressing yourself in a safe and non-judgemental space, you allow your deepest thoughts and emotions to come to the surface. You then have a chance to carefully examine each. Not all of that surfaces on your Truth Pages need action from you but it all needs your attention.
Telling your truth by writing
“There’s a friend at the end of your pen which you can use to help you solve personal or business problems, get to know all the different parts of yourself, explore your creativity, heal your relationships, develop your intuition”
― Journal to the Self: Twenty-Two Paths to Personal Growth – Open the Door to Self-Understanding by Writing, Reading, and Creating a Journal of Your Life
Why writing you say? The process of writing is an act of mindfulness and is a strong tool in bringing us to the center. It helps clarify our thoughts. More importantly, when we put something on paper, we hold ourselves accountable for its authenticity. Therefore the process of writing will help you dig deeper and clearly articulate all you find within.
You need a quiet place where you will be undisturbed, a blank journal, and a pen. Give yourself the space to complete this process undisturbed.
I keep a separate journal for my Truth Pages and I approach it as part of my morning ritual, right after my mind is freshly refreshed by Pranayam and body hydrated with my lemon tea.
Make sure you have identified a private place to store your Truth Pages Journal. This is imperative to allow yourself to express yourself without any fear of someone else reading your private thoughts.
The words on your Truth Pages have only one objective. That is to help you surface the truth – your truth. Your truth is unique to you – the world according to you. Your words have only one affiliation, that is to your truth in the moment that you write.
Now to begin, you can set a target of writing at least three pages of thoughts and ideas that reign in your mind. It does not have to be chronological or in any other way organized. Just write what comes to mind and before you know it there is a pitter-patter of words, like raindrops, that fall from our hearts and minds and gently cascade in the form of words in our Truth Pages. Don’t stop till you get to the minimum three pages.
There will be days when you may find it hard to fill the three pages. There may be days when you keep writing way beyond the minimum three pages and the words keep pouring. Be kind to yourself and support yourself in each situation.
If you find you are stuck and unable to write, you are likely thinking too much, perhaps expecting too much of the process or worrying that what you write may not be good enough. In any of these cases, you must remind yourself to be true to the process and therefore to yourself. Your writing doesn’t need to be perfect. It doesn’t even need to be coherent to anyone other than you. It doesn’t need to be anything beyond your truth in that moment. It simply needs to be authentic. When you do that, every word that comes from your heart and onto your journal is sacred.
Read your journals
An important part of this process is going back and reading all that you wrote. If you pull up a page from a year or two ago, you will see the perspective you had back then and you can compare it to where you currently stand. You now have a birds-eye view to understand how much you have grown or allowed yourself to shrink.
This is an exercise that needs infinite patience. We share so much of our time, energy, kindness, and support with the outer world. It is time to take some of that energy back and channel it to loving ourselves. And we can’t love ourselves if we don’t know ourselves.
Life changes every day – what was important yesterday is no longer meaningful today. Who you are and what is important to you may change. But this process, of actively seeking and articulating your truth can remain your guiding star at all times.
It will take time, but this method will allow your inner self to shine again. The more time you spend on this practice, the more rewarding it will get. There may be days that you have no meaningful insight. Please don’t let that stop you. If you stop, you will have lost a lot of the momentum you built up to get into that space of personal truth. Be as good a friend to yourself as you are to your friends. Bring to yourself all the compassion, patience, commitment, you give your friends and family.
We have spent so many years turning to the world for cues on what to do and what not. We have not turned to ourselves for answers. Now let’s give some attention back to ourselves, lend an ear to our own inner voices.
A little time, some focus, a good pen, and a few blank pages in your journal – that’s all you need to tell your truth. Because if you won’t, who will?
Several books will help you grow in your practice of introspective writing. Here are some great options:
Journal to the Self
Buy it on Amazon
Journal to the Self
The Mindful Journal
Buy it on Amazon The Mindful Life Journal: Seven Minutes a Day for a Better, More Meaningful Life
The Daily Stoic Journal
Becoming: A Guided Journal
Buy it on Amazon
Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice