Journaling with your non-dominant hand (and answering with the other) is about tapping into your inner child, inner teen, and inner wisdom.
When I was in my early twenties I went to see a psychic. He said I was so full of creative energy that I either needed to start writing books or I was going to start having babies. As a young, unwed woman, I panicked and went straight from his office to the nearest bookstore. I knew absolutely nothing about writing except that I had gotten a ‘C’ in creative writing in college. Worse yet, I really didn’t think I had anything to say. Ultimately, I didn’t know how to access my inner wisdom. Heck, at that point in time, I didn’t think I had any.
So into the bookstore I went looking for books on journaling and writing when, quite literally, one fell off the shelf. It was called The Creative Journal: The Art of Finding Yourself by Lucia Capacchione. Figuring that was a good place to start, I bought it and a blank journal.
Self-Discovery Through the Non-Dominant Hand
Unknowingly, I had stepped into what I now lovingly call the “180-degree turn” in my life; I ventured into the world of self-discovery and a deep relationship with myself.
First, I explored my relationship with my inner child. As directed, I tentatively put the pen in my left, non-dominant hand and drew my child self. She had a big smiley face and was wearing my favorite blue dress with a lion on the front. Then, I had a conversation with her, alternating writing with my right, dominant hand (my normal self) and my left hand (through which my inner child spoke).
We talked about all the things she loved and cleared up some painful yet incorrect conclusions she made as a child. She, just like a child would, asked me to play more, draw more, dance more, and go to the beach more. To this day, this is still what she wants.
Inner Child, Inner Teen, Inner Wisdom
I then turned my attention to my inner teenager. This is where I was introduced to the angry, hurt part of myself. Like most of us as teenagers, my self-esteem suffered. I didn’t feel I was pretty or that I belonged. I didn’t believe anyone liked me. The healing of my inner teen required a lot more time journaling with my non-dominant hand. But together, eventually, we made peace with that part of my life and the choices I had made. We explored the self-limiting, hurtful, and mostly false beliefs I had held and choose new, kinder, more empowering beliefs.
[Read: "5 Ways to Process the Anger You Thought You Weren't Allowed to Feel."]
Then, I dove into the magical world of the inner wise self. As I said before, I didn’t even know she existed—even though she was constantly sending me loving guidance. I asked with my right hand for advice. I put the pen in my left hand, took a deep breath, and let my inner wise self speak.
And speak she did. I filled journal after journal after journal with powerful insights, perspectives, poetry, art, and guidance. While I know now that my inner wisdom was always guiding me, journaling with the non-dominant hand isolated her voice from the cacophony of child, teen, and other ego-mind chatter. Dialoguing with these different aspects of myself made each voice distinct, as recognizable as if a dear friend called without identifying herself. Even the handwriting was recognizable. My inner wisdom writes in cursive, and my inner child prints.
Eventually, when I experienced apprehension, I could determine whether the feeling was actually the fear of my child, the rebellion of my teen, or the intuition of my wisdom—thus guiding my next steps. This ability deepened my confidence, my self-understanding, and ultimately the direction of my life. Journaling gave me something to say by showing me what I thought, which beliefs were “stories” and which were truths, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Now, thirty years later, I have six beautiful, bouncing books—my babies.
Exercise for Journaling with Dominant and Non-Dominant Hands
I invite you to explore your inner relationship with all aspects of yourself. Simply get blank paper (not lined.) Put a pen in each hand. Ask a question with your dominant hand based on which aspect of yourself you wish to know. If it is your inner child, ask her (or him) how she feels, what she loves, how old he/she is—just as you would a child outside of yourself. If it is your teen, explore what he/she believes, and assist them in making new meanings and empowering them to respond in a new way to the world. Learn to love each part of yourself and your life.
And if it is your inner wisdom, ask for insight, guidance, and clarity. Prepare to get reacquainted with your biggest fan and greatest teacher—yourself.