Joy of journalling – confessions

The art of confession – renewing yourself through the practice of honesty” by Paul Wilkes.


Photo entitled “Reflections” taken in Nagoya, 2018 by me.

My first confession is that I never thought highly of confessions. I was searching for a book on Stoics for my workshop on diary writing and journaling when I chanced upon it.

“Confession is self examination, an honest conversation with ourselves, stripping away the veil over our actions and thoughts, so that we see more clearly and act more justly” writes Wilkes.

Today we complain about stress, rages and provocations, but where is the problem? Perhaps it is our lack of self worth or nagging guilt. Did we lose ourselves somewhere?

One of my favourite techniques in the book is “praying backward through the day“.

The first step is to confess to the God of your faith. Repent of your sin and ask God to be gracious and merciful.

1. Observe, Judge, Act
Observe: Be specific about what you want to change

Judge: consider the consequences of your action

Act: Do something to rectify your situation

2. Consolations and Desolations
Spend a few moments to recall moments when you feel most alive and worthwhile and when you felt the opposite.

What did I do that made me happiest?
Where did I feel ashamed of myself?
What habits worked for or against me?

3. Praying backwards through the day
Jesuit priest Dennis Hamm recommends LT3F approach – light, thanks, feelings, focus, future based on the examen of St Ignatius.

What is helpful when listening to a confession?
Wilkes quotes Dr Thomas Mathew:
In psychotherapy, we can treat outward symptoms – depression, anxiety, ennui – with medication, which sometimes is very effective in itself.

In therapy, time allows a person to go deeper. Don’t judge, or jump in with a solution. Just listen.

Why am I interested in journalling?
An unexamined life is not worth living. -Socrates

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