Do you react or respond? How our journals can help us save our energy

This week has not gone according to plan.

My intention was to spend a couple of days doing some freelance writing for the local magazine I work for, then complete a short story ready for competition entry this weekend, then develop some more marketing ideas to make more people aware of The Journal Writer’s Handbook.

Hmmm.

Instead I spent longer than planned on my paid work (not such a bad thing) and then got involved in my village’s action group against the latest housing development idea that’s popped into the head of the Council.

Where did that come from?

So, one meeting, one news article, and one analysis document later, I’ve found myself creating a new Facebook page and writing another blog supporting my village in its quest to show the local Council that we’re not quite ready to roll over and die in the face of proposals that will drastically impact on our beautiful home.

Thank goodness I’ve got used to making distinctions between emotion and fact, reaction and response, by writing in my journal. My first reaction upon reading about the 1650 new homes that are destined to be built on my doorstep was to go into an emotional tail-spin about the loss of the landscape, about the traffic chaos that will ensue, about the machinations of a public body whose track record has been one of cloak and dagger developer deals delivering jam tomorrow and utter misery later on down the line. (You can sense the emotion here huh?)

However, having taken a few deep breaths, I then got some clarity about the real issues that need to be discussed right now. These are far more about the transparency and appropriateness of decision-making, and about the thoroughness of community engagement and inclusivity thus far (ahem).

I found  that taking a more considered response is actually a whole lot less draining. It’s exhausting to be reacting all the time and allowing our emotions to run riot over every issue and question that raises its head. When we allow our emotions to be in control we stop being curious, we stop being able to listen, and we relate everything we hear to our own particular difficulties and struggles.

Our journals help us take that chill pill that enables us to take a step back, reflect and consider things from a more reasoned perspective. What’s the most pressing issue? What’s the most effective way of handling it? Am I going to react emotionally or respond intelligently?

Sometimes our days don’t go at all according to plan. Better then to have the energy to go with the flow rather than exhaust ourselves through resisting. Being clear on the distinctions between reaction and response gives us that edge.

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