The Importance of Journaling (Part 1)
The Lost Art of Storytelling

At InPower Academy, our programs introduce kids & young adults to two important practises; Martial Arts and Journaling.

But introducing kids to journaling sometimes raises eyebrows.

Isn’t journaling a bit… old-fashioned?

Does anyone really keep a journal these days?

Unfortunately, the answers to the above are pretty much ‘yes’ and ‘no’. 

⛔️ But that’s a problem ⛔️

The truth is, journaling is far more than something our grandparents did to pass time before Smartphones were invented. 

Journaling isn’t just a hobby. Before the arrival of our technological ‘Age of Distraction’, journaling was a standard practise.

There’s good reason for that: 

To journal is to write your own story ✒️

Stories are the frame-work that give meaning to our lives. 

Humans understand life via stories. We always have done. 

Ever since our ancestors told tales around the campfire, stories have been a way of teaching eternal life-lessons. Roadmaps for riding out life’s highs & lows.

The problem is, we’ve forgotten their importance. We no longer see the value in the myths and fables of our ancestors.

But this leaves a hole. Without understanding the story of what it means to be human, we have a tough time making sense of the world. A life without a sense of purpose is not a minor problem. Not something to be seen as ‘normal’. 

Not just part & parcel of living in the modern world. 

We may have stopped writing our own stories, but the need for them hasn’t gone away.

If we feel lost as adults, imagine how our kids feel…

Why do you think reality TV & social media are so popular?

People, and kids in particular, still need a sense of meaning in their lives – but instead of writing their own, they pass it off to other people to do it for them.

Quite literally. Adults & kids alike follow celebrity ‘stories’ on Snapchat. We follow ‘A Day in the Life’ Vlogs of random people on Youtube. We’re so desperate for stories and meaning (and maybe some kind of connection to other people?) that we ‘religiously’ follow these celebrities’ every move.

But, unlike the myths & tales of our ancestors, our celebrities’ ‘stories’ completely lack meaning or useful life lessons.

And that’s at best…

If we’re a bit more cynical (or maybe just accurate), we see that these ‘stories’ are really just thinly-veiled adverts. There are no important life-lessons in reality TV & social media. Nothing of value kids can take into their own lives to help them develop & mature through life’s obstacles.   

Worse still, the difference between following someone else’s story, instead of discovering your own… is the difference between following someone else’s opinion and having your own.

And, as we all know, many of the lifestyles and opinions on social media aren’t always particularly… healthy.

Or inspiring. Or even truthful. 

Worse still, there’s a sinister side to the identity & meaning crisis our kids face.

Without the right tools to define their own goals & values, many kids in the Midlands suffer from a lack of identity. 

This is nothing trivial. A lack of identity leaves children vulnerable. Vulnerable to manipulation by the darkest corners of the social media sphere. The areas where gangs ply their trade.

Gangs don’t prey on the strong. They don’t target children with strong opinions or a strong sense of who they are. Gangs target the naive, the impressionable, the lost.

Placed in the wrong hands, Social Media becomes a powerful propaganda tool. We can’t stop Gangs using it. We can’t stop our kids using it. But we do have one option left.

To provide a better alternative.  

So how can the ancient practise of journaling help?

With the humble pen & paper, we believe journaling gives our kids a chance to take their lives back into their own hands.

A chance to start writing their own stories. To start creating their own meaning. Their own values, their own goals & ambitions. 

To help them shape their identity, as they mature into adulthood. To understand what direction they want their lives to take, over the next months & years.  

In a day full of noise and distraction, journaling gives our kids a brief moment of quiet and reflection. A chance to sit with themselves and put their own thoughts down on paper. 

But we’re not just making bold claims without proof 📊

At InPower, our keys success metrics focus on demonstrating improvements in our students’ school attendance, performance, and behaviour records.

Our flagship program Unbreakable measures our attendee’s before & after improvements in resilience, using the standardised metrics of the “Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale”. 

The CD-RISC defines resilience as the ability “to thrive in the face of adversity”. There’s no denying many of our kids face adversity, both in their personal lives and at school. The kind of adversity that requires more than just a “safe-space” to retreat to. The kind of adversity that requires resistance; empowerment. A better alternative. 

So by equipping these kids with the Stoic life-skill of journaling, they learn that facing these hardships doesn’t make them victims.

Nor does it mean they should take out their frustration by bullying others. Nor to give in to the temptations of apathy or cynicism. 

No. 

Because you know what the best thing is about our kids writing their own stories? 

⚜️ It means they can write themselves as the Heroes ⚜️

To have that concrete narrative to strengthen them when life is uncertain. An identity. A reason to pick themselves up and carry on when life knocks them down. A direction to safeguard them against any sinister influences. 

💪 We can’t necessarily change the difficulties the kids on our programs face. But we can do something about how they face them 💪

Seeing themselves as the Heroes & Heroines of their stories, not the victims of their circumstances, gives them that fundamental reason & motivation to become the best versions of themselves.

Once our kids see the value in journaling, the raised eyebrows are quickly replaced by the sounds of pens scribbling.

Smartphones away, Warrior-Journals out.

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For more information about our Martial Arts programs for kids in the Midlands, and how they could benefit your school, pupil referral unit or community program, visit our website, or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.