Morning Pages are a way to produce insights, solutions, clarity, and calm

In a world where so much is changing so fast, we need new ways to make sense of what is happening.

To do this, our conscious, rational minds will tend to seek out facts and figures. But as the start of the Covid-19 pandemic showed, in a time of rapid change these facts and figures might not always be available, they might not be accurate, and they might not mean what we think they mean.

Even worse, our conscious rational minds will try to make sense of what is happening using assumptions based on the ways the world used to work. And in a time of rapid change, these assumptions might no longer hold true. We once assumed, for example, that catching Covid-19 would make us immune. We once assumed that Russia would quickly defeat Ukraine. In a changing world our assumptions can easily be wrong.

The good news is that our rational minds aren’t the only reliable method we have for making sense of the world. When top sportspeople respond in a split second to put the ball exactly where they want it to go they aren’t using their conscious, rational minds. They’re using their unconscious, intuitive minds.

In the same way, our own unconscious minds are already spotting the new patterns that are emerging all around us and making sense of them.

This means that we will be able to lead ourselves far better through this time of change if we learn to draw on the power of our unconscious intuition.

One way to do this is using a tool called Morning Pages:

  • Sit down with pen and paper, first thing in the morning, before your conscious mind is fully awake
  • Write out longhand whatever comes into your mind, until you have filled three sides of paper: don’t think, don’t judge, don’t edit, just write down whatever comes into your mind
  • Then check back through what you have written and make a note of anything that seems significant
  • Get on with your day

This simple process will bring you three major benefits:

  1. First, you will get any nagging worries out of your head and down on to paper. This makes you calmer and brings you a clearer mind, which enables you to get on with your day
  2. Second, writing without thinking often surfaces unexpected insights 
  3. And third, as well as bringing you a better understanding of what is happening, Morning Pages will often bring you solutions 

It might seem counter-intuitive that such a simple process of not thinking should work. But as as Einstein put it, 

“There is no logical path to [new insights] — only intuition… can reach them.”

And as the journalist Oliver Burkeman says, to begin with he was highly sceptical about Morning Pages but now he wishes he’d started doing them years ago.

Is your conscious mind is struggling to find the answer to a problem? Is it worth trying Morning Pages, to see what answers your unconscious intuition will bring?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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(And remember: you can’t learn to swim just by reading about swimming, you also need to do the practice.)

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