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It's Never Just a Hamburger: Problem Solving by Journaling

By Barbara Carr Phillips

Did you know that using a personal journal is a life tool that will help you identify and solve problems? For journalers, identifying problems is easy. We just re-read our journals.

There are many other good reasons to re-read a journal, one of them being to identify recurrent themes. Recurrent journaling themes are ideas or thoughts that keep surfacing in a journaler's diary or blog. It's important to examine them and learn from them.

One recurrent theme I identified in my journal is my struggle with Mondays. I never, ever have good Mondays. Period. I wake up cranky and go to sleep cranky. Why?

Because. It's Monday.

While I could identify the theme, (every journal entry I wrote on a Monday reflected my misery), I wasn't sure why that was so. I posted this feeling on my blog, and one of my Xangan friends, Patti, responded with a comment:

Is it that Mondays represent the ties that bind you from doing what it is that you really want to do? I have a saying that I made up during an argument with my husband: "It's never just a hamburger." Basically, the epiphany was that while we were arguing over a hamburger (don't ask), the hamburger was merely a flash point for all the other stuff we were tee'd about. Man, did we go round and round about that's more than that, deeper than that. And, when we find out what that hamburger represents then we gain the insight.

I thought about this for a few days. What do Mondays represent to me? I'm still journaling about that, and it's an interesting journey. I'm finding that Monday in itself is not the problem weighing me down, but, as Patti observed, perhaps it is a feeling that I am spending another week bound from doing what I really want to do.

Sometimes examining recurrent themes is not only understanding what is written about over and over again, but also identifying what's not being written.

I did this recently when I went through a difficult time with one of my teenage children. I quit journaling about her. I noticed that I had almost 30 entries with no mention of the child's name. Did the child disappear from my thoughts and my heart? No, not at all. It was just too difficult to put any of my feelings into words at the time. Identifying this avoidance helped me get back on track and reconnect with her.

The more you journal, the more you will discover patterns or recurrent themes. Remember what my friend Patti said? Don't go round and round about that hamburger. Re-reading your journals is a step toward problem-solving and living a more productive and proactive life.

Happy Journaling!

About The Author

This article is available for free reprint provided that the author bio is left intact and the article is published complete and unaltered. If you are using this article on a website or e-book, please make sure that the link in the author bio is live or clickable.

Barbara Carr Phillips, Journaling Instructor and published author, believes dreams come true when you journal your way to success. Preview and Order her downloadable book, "Quick Start to Personal Journaling" at:


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