9 Years of Journaling

9 Years of Journaling

Starting a Journaling Habit

In 2010, I started journaling under the recommendation of friends and family who were helping me through a very difficult personal time of my life.

As time went on, the habit remained. Journaling helped me overcome much personal adversity; and now, I look back on those memories with relief. I'm glad I can review what happened now, as I approach my birthday.

I stumbled upon stacks of old, black Moleskine notebooks, clearly worn away from my heavy handwriting.

Reflections on Nine Years of Journaling.

This is just a summary, not an exhaustive list. I hope people who read this can have a sense of comfort knowing how beneficial it can be to document thoughts and review them later.

Loss Leaves a Hole In Your Heart. Fill it With Good Things.

The first lesson is on how important an environment is – in general – and especially for someone reeling from a major loss.

My life completely changed after my father's passing. Workouts stopped, training ended (muay thai), I gave up playing guitar, and overall things turned down. Instead, I turned my attention to work. Of course, my financial situation was vastly different, but that wasn't the whole story.

I fell into a very different crowd. I'll spare the details and won't name names, but it was toxic af. Losing such an important part of life, and changing so much since then, I failed to recognize what really mattered. Old friends were gone. Replaced by people I'm not friends with anymore, for good reason.

Reeling from a loss, you can't think straight. The bad environment, toxic "friends" and lack of structure in my life shoved me down a bad path. I've learned from it since, but I naturally wonder what life would have been like if I had grieved properly.

Loss leaves space in one's heart. It did for me. The mistake I made was filling that hole with negativity, toxicity, and my own delusions on what life should be like. I don't regret any of it, but again, I can't help but wonder.

You Owe It To Yourself

The second lesson is about priorities. There were so many cases when I just "went along" with things I didn't actually believe in or want to do. Maybe I was convinced by toxic people, or maybe I was too stupid to realize it. Following the theme of loss, it's not only easy to fill your heart with the bad, it's easy to lose sight of what's really important.

When you treat yourself like that friend you'd do anything for, things change quickly. People around you change as a response. That's a good thing. Some will try to keep you down, remind you of what life was like when you were suffering through your loss. It's their game. Anyone reminding you of the tough times in your life, apart from your mother and perhaps your family, aren't doing it for anyone but themselves.

Cut People Out

Don't let the bad relationships fade. Cut people out. Make it clear, spoken, and obvious. It seems difficult and it might be. But it's worth it.

I remember being in tears wondering what I'd do with my life, when things would turn around, and how long it would take me to "get it together." Truth is the people around you are a big part of your mental health. If they're not boosting you, you don't need them around.

Constructive criticism is a good thing, and it's difficult to understand that you sometimes need to hear the hard news. Going through a loss is different. People can (and should), take a minute to read the situation. It's when they clearly haven't that they need to go.

The relationships that bring no value fade away. Cut the toxic relationships. Be bold about it.

$100,000 a Year Is Not a Lot of Money

This one stings, but trust me, it takes a lot of debt to figure it out. That six-figures you're chasing, change it to seven figures a year. Even $1,000,000, one time, is not a lot of money.

It's just the way of the world, but people around you would have you believe otherwise. Where I Iive, in Vancouver BC, Canada, you can't buy a 2-bedroom apartment downtown with $1,000,000.00. It's a joke.

So when you have to make a decision that involves a friend, family member, doing what you love, or whatever else that is important to you, remember this: money comes and goes. Great people in your life are worth more than a million dollars. Once you go through a betrayal related to money, you'll understand.

Take this one to heart. 100k is just not a lot of money, and certainly not worth your friendships.

Trust Your Instincts

You've probably heard this before, here is my version.

Many times in my life, as documented in my journal, things rubbed me the wrong way. People, opportunities, descriptions people gave me, etc. Things felt off. But I went "along with it anyway."

This is called tacit approval. The process of going along with something, having it taken as your approval - when it's not - because you haven't explicitly agreed. Some people do this so they can maintain plausible deniability. "I never said yes, you just assumed I was in." These moments apply to others, and to yourself.

Don't try and sneak through when you know it's wrong. Don't let others do the same. Explicit, honest, direct, call it what you want, but adhere to it. Your life may be difficult in the short term, but you will maintain your respect for yourself every time.

Voicing your instincts isn't always safe, and I get that. It's often safer to be direct than you might think. Human psychology has evolved so people who don't take risks survive. When the bushes were rustling in ancient times, people who checked what was in the bush were bitten by the snake. People who avoided the bush altogether survived.

But times have changed. We're safer now, have walls to protect us, and most risks aren't life-threatening. Our instincts just think they are. So when your instincts are telling you not to do something, trust that the reason why is based on human history, not your current reality. Lean into those feelings of uncertainty, and do the thing that scares you. 99/100 times, it's not a big deal.

It takes real conflict, lost friends, drama, and many physical and emotional bruises to understand this. You don't have to take shit from anybody, and trust that your instincts are acting like your mother, trying to keep you safe when they don't have to.

Follow The Money

Almost every time I wasn't sure why someone was doing something, I realized later there was a cheque waiting for them on the other side of their decision.

People are motivated by money, and even if they don't voice it, they act for it. While 100k may not be a lot, people still do stupid shit for that money. It's negative, but with a positive opportunity.

When you understand this motivation, it's easy to see who's secure enough with themselves (and their money), to actually be a good friend. Follow the money, and see where it goes. In some cases it's unpleasant, but in other cases, people might surprise you.

They might choose the good route, and the money trail will lead nowhere. That's what you want.

You Never Know What Someone Else is Going Through

Many of your closes friends, colleagues, and acquaintances are battling mental health, financial well-being, and other parts of life. You just don't know it. They might not even know it.

I remember thinking to myself that some people around me were so strong. Talking to them later I found out they had a lot going on and put on a strong face.

The same goes for me. Most people don't understand what happened to me after my father passed and the dark road I went down.

Give people a chance and be patient. You don't have to give them another chance tomorrow. Give it a week, month, maybe even a year. Reach out once in a while and make sure they're okay, and be a positive part of their journey. Of course, if you want to do more than that, by all means. Just be mindful not to write people off too soon.

I'm all for cutting people off, but it's best to be sure before you do. Never know what someone is going through.

Wrapping Up

That's all for now. I'm sure there will be more as I reflect on my 30th birthday, so stay tuned for those.

Thanks for reading.