We live in an ego-based world where appearances are more valued than the truth, and it is easy to forget who we are at the deepest level. The aim of honest art journaling is to strengthen and reclaim authentic self-expression. When we become more self-mirrored and self-validated in our authentic self-expression, we find more courage to express our truth in the outer world.
The pressure to conform to societal standards intensifies in our teen years. In my teens, I was afraid to voice my joy, my passion, my preferences, and my strength. I walked through my teen years not feeling seen, known, or mirrored until I began art journaling.
Over the years I have been a devoted keeper of journals - writing journals, art journals, collage journals, dream journals, intuitive drawings, sketchbooks, and poetry journals. I also have kept "themed journals" such as inner child journals, visual symbol journals, and mandala journals.
In my journals, I have witnessed what is inside of me. As I reread my journals, I began to feel real, substantial and important - to myself. As my years of journaling progressed, I discovered I had an inner particularity - a uniqueness that I had not recognized when I was trying to conform in my outer life.
Daily Journal Practice
We may not fully share our inner truth with everyone we meet but we all need a sacred place to do so for ourselves. Engaging in the outer world requires a certain amount of "getting along" in familial, business and societal structures. Often, we have to fit into professional roles and systems to earn a living.
Disengaging away from the "outer world of appearances" to attend to an authentic inner practice helps us to discern between the social self that we present to the world and our "out of the box" authentic self-expression.
Breaking Through Outer Conditioning
The fear of losing approval on the outside can feel intense when we start to express our truth. Sticking to a regular creative practice takes diligent, regular action in order to crack open the pervasive familial and societal conditioning that keeps us mired in habitual outer-referencing.
When we first delve into our unknown, there is often resistance to standing out, expressing difference, and asserting truths that challenge outer expectations. Our subconscious truths are stored away in the shadow for a reason. We fear not belonging. As spontaneous imagery and words slip past our censorship, we witness how the journaling process nurtures the disowned yet essential parts of our psyche.
We hide certain aspects of ourselves from others. This is how we first learn to belong. But, whatever we hide decreases our ability to connect with other people. When we express uniqueness, we challenge consensus outer standards, and we begin to dream our own dreams.
In our ego world of perfect appearances, we all have something to hide. We each have a particularity that does not fit into the narrow standards of societal acceptability. As we mature, we must find ways to positively mirror ourselves. The parts of ourselves have felt ignored or rejected in the past await our recognition, validation, encouragement, and integration through the art journaling process.
Expressing Original Experience
Joseph Campbell spoke of the challenge of moving out of the conformist society that protects us, and into the fire of original experience. He said, "Original experience has not been interpreted for you, and so you've got to work out your life for yourself. Either you can take it, or you can't."
To have a sacred space where we can be utterly ourselves is a precious and private ritual of authenticity. To compassionately witness our authentic truth in visual and written form in a daily journal - makes it easier to express who we really are in the outer world.