This post forms part of a serialisation eventually building into a complete reference on Journaling for Creativity and the writer's notebook. One that will demonstrate how to journal in order to improve creativity and effectiveness of artists, writers or anyone needing to be creative.
This is one of the longer games you can play in your creativity journal and also one of the more serious games. A game that tricks your own self-protection system into allowing you to go where you are normally forbidden to go to.
How to play
The game is a tricky way to get you to journal/write about some of the things that you might otherwise avoid.
We all have something we would much prefer not to face, yet in order to become the writer we desire to be, these things need not only to be faced but also handled and worked with.
Such subjects will be unique to the individual and may for instance be the slaughter of innocents, repression of a group’s rights, rampant technology, aggressive encounters, painful emotions, etc. They all have one thing in common; you find them, in some way, disturbing and a subconscious self-protection system redirects you away from facing the issues.
This game will help with those subjects. Start a new journal entry with the prompt;
“I don’t want to write about [subject] because….”
Then simply write as many reasons as you can about why writing on that subject is a bad idea. Use cluster maps to expand on all the bad aspects of that ‘dreadful’ subject so that you cover it properly.
The funny thing with this is, once you start writing about the subject, even in order to say why you should not, you will discover that you begin to actually write about what you are trying to avoid. What seems to happen is that the need to put down your actual feelings and thoughts on the subject overrides the previous self-protection system and allows you to deal with your inner issues.
"..and therefore meet the world in new and more expansive and appropriate ways by embracing it fully rather than contracting, recoiling, or turning away. This willingness to embrace what is and then work with it takes great courage, and presence of mind."
J Kabat-Zinn – “Coming to our senses”
The purpose of the game
The aim is to learn to be aware of and overcome your own internal defences against conflict.
People have many types of mental defence mechanisms working to protect them. The one functioning here is part of the ‘flight or fight’ mechanism, which normally operates by causing the conscious mind to become distracted with an alternative activity that takes you away from mental conflict or disagreeable experiences.
This game neatly bypasses the normal ‘flight’ response by taking advantage of the mental reasoning for that response and using it against itself.
Simply put, you address the flight response on the disagreeable issue by writing about why it is a bad idea, and by doing something different, you actually satisfy and switch the flight response off. However, you now find yourself actually writing about the worst parts of the disagreeable subject and as you are now ‘in the midst of it’ your ‘fight’ response switches on and allows you to continue.
What are your thoughts on this game? Have you tried playing it? How was it for you?
If you have any thoughts or experiences on this game, then please share them with everyone in the comments area below, we’d love to hear from you.
Photo credit: One Upset Little Guy, by Alex E Proimos.
Photo credit: Fraunhofer Face Finder, by Steve Jurvetson.
Photo credit: Piss Off, by Cedward Brice.
Photo credit: I don't understand you, by Andrea Floris.
"Mind training games: Anti-self protection" by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.