Allison Buehner Of Burning Soul Press: How Journaling Helped Me Be More Calm, Mindful And Resilient

An Interview With Heidi Sander

Heidi Sander
Authority Magazine
9 min readMay 5, 2022

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Self-Expression. Journaling allows you a special time to find the right words to describe your emotions as you feel them. This kind of introspection gives you the opportunity to express yourself accurately, which not only helps you process your current emotions, but also to be mindful enough to identify them if they surface in the future as a result of issues similar or dissimilar.

Journaling is a powerful tool to gain clarity and insight especially during challenging times of loss and uncertainty. Writing can cultivate a deeper connection with yourself and provide an outlet for calmness, resilience and mindfulness. When my mom passed on, I found writing to be cathartic. When I read through my journal years later, there were thoughts that I developed into poems, and others that simply provided a deeper insight into myself. In this series I’m speaking with people who use journaling to become more mindful and resilient.

As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Allison Buehner.

Allison has worked in the PR sphere in various industries her entire career. As the Growth & Strategy Director for Burning Soul Press, she works on larger strategic initiatives to elevate the BSP brand to reach those with an impactful story to share. Allison is passionate about the structure and strategy of language within the complexities of storytelling and takes pride in her nickname “the walking thesaurus”.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! We really appreciate the courage it takes to publicly share your story of healing. Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your background and your childhood backstory?

I grew up in a rural town in central Illinois. I was an only child, so while I did have friends my own age, my parents were my best friends. And their friends, too. I was comfortable speaking with adults and expressing myself articulately even at a young age. I loved reading, writing, drawing, dancing, singing, and acting — anything that could tell a story (it’s incredibly fitting, now, considering my work with Burning Soul Press!).

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about journaling. Have you been writing in your journal for a long time or was there a challenging situation that prompted you to start journal writing? If you feel comfortable sharing the situation with us, it could help other readers.

I have been writing in a journal since middle school. My grandmother always kept one of those five- or ten-year journals — the ones just meant for life’s highlights and big events. They had a blank college-ruled notebook tucked in one of their bookshelves in their bedroom, and every trip to see them, I would write a journal entry about our visit. On one visit, when I retrieved the notebook, I found a return entry from my grandma. Our notes about visits later turned into a pen pal relationship when I left home for college, and we exchanged letters until she passed.

Seeing my grandma cherish her memories from her journals inspired me to start my own shortly after I’d found out my notes in the journal in their bedroom had been discovered. I wanted to have one of my own. Except, for me, journaling wasn’t a way to keep track of life events, but rather to work through them. I don’t journal daily, but when I have something on my mind, writing it down helps me to work through it.

How did journaling help you heal, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?

Journaling is the primary method I use to heal mentally and emotionally, for the most part. Mentally, because I am able to release the thoughts from my brain down on the page. If I’m ruminating over something for hours at a time (even subconsciously), not only is it bad for my mood, but it also affects my focus, happiness, and intentionality in other areas of my life. Emotionally, journaling has helped me to reflect and think more clearly. Often, we cool down after time and distance from an event that is tough to process. And, when I do take the time to write something troubling down, I’m able to truly stop thinking about it, which gives me the mental space to truly clear my head and return to the subject with much more clarity.

Did journaling help you find more self-compassion and gratitude? Can you share a story about that?

I have found so much gratitude for my entire life’s journey through journaling. I’ve kept all of my journals and when I read through them during a nostalgic moment (like coming across them in a move or searching for a memory I know I wrote about, then finding myself lost in all the entries I cross to find it), I’m proud of all I’ve gone through and overcome. I also find myself embarrassed of my raw emotions, too, but mostly grateful to have all of these important challenges documented so that I could nearly plot out my personal growth throughout my lifetime.

What kind of content goes into your journal? For example, do you free-write, write poems, doodle?

All of the above! I have five different types of entries:

  1. A Brain Dump, which is exceptionally good when you’re dealing with a specific hardship.
  2. Ten Minute List, where I’ll set a timer for ten minutes and write everything that comes to mind. This is what I use when I’m feeling “off” and maybe have several small things bothering me.
  3. Poetry, which is what I find myself doing when I’m ruminating and thinking a couple of lines over and over, I need to channel that energy out creatively.
  4. Doodling is something I do when I am not ready to leave my journal and want to sit with my thoughts for a while longer. Sometimes I jump between doodling and writing; finding the right words to put in my entry.
  5. Letters to those who I am frustrated with or wish to communicate something to but need to sort my thoughts out first.

How did you gain a different perspective on life and your emotions while writing in your journal? Can you please share a story about what you mean?

This ties into my reply about healing. When I’m ruminating, I feel like a pinball machine bouncing this event or topic around in my head faster than I can keep up. I truly can’t stop dwelling on it and it’s consuming me. Once I write my thoughts down, I almost always find peace and am able to release it. If I am still thinking about it, I know I wasn’t completely honest with myself in my entry. After I can have time not spent thinking about the issue (the next morning or a day later) when I’m not as emotional, I read my thoughts back. I find myself thinking “That’s a little harsh.”, “Dramatic much?” and “Damn, I’m eloquent.” I know, a very wide range of reactions from ridiculous to having a full-on revelation I know I’m going to tweet later. I always read my entry back with a new perspective and learn something about the way I was reacting, feeling, and thinking.

One of my favorite applications of journaling and uncovering new perspectives is writing a letter to someone I am having issues with. We’ve all been given the advice to “write a letter, and look at it the next day, if you still want to send it, then you can.” And obviously we never do — but it truly works. I have one or more letters to most of my friends and colleagues in my journals that I’m so grateful were never shared with them word for word. Through those letters, I could pick out a thing or two that needed to be sorted out, determine I was worked up over nothing, or realize the friendship wasn’t beneficial to me and I needed to take — or not take — action about it. Very different outcomes but very helpful decisions were made from each letter because my own reflection and the light of a new day was teaching me my own life lessons.

In my own journal writing, I ended up creating poems from some of the ideas and one of them won an award. Do you have plans with your journal content?

I didn’t have plans for my writing until I began working at Burning Soul Press, a company dedicated to capturing and sharing life stories and empowering books. I get to help people who never considered themselves a writer to publish their memoirs and inspirational messages and become an author. I am so inspired by them, and I think I may do the same someday. Maybe my journaling since childhood has been serendipitous, because let me tell you, I have tons of content.

Fantastic. Here is our main question. In my journaling program, I have found that journaling can help people to become more calm, mindful and resilient. Based on your experience and research, can you please share with our readers “five ways that journaling can help you to be more calm, mindful and resilient”?

  1. Self-Expression

Journaling allows you a special time to find the right words to describe your emotions as you feel them. This kind of introspection gives you the opportunity to express yourself accurately, which not only helps you process your current emotions, but also to be mindful enough to identify them if they surface in the future as a result of issues similar or dissimilar.

2. A Moment of Peace

When we give ourselves the space to get our thoughts out of our head and down on paper, most often, we experience a moment of peace. Our mind can finally wander to other topics than the one we have been relentlessly mulling over in our heads. When we are emotional about something it’s important to first feel the emotions, but then to create distance so we don’t stay in a negative headspace longer than we need to. This sense of calm is critical in moving forward.

3. Self-Reflection

After our moment of peace, when we revisit our journal entry to read back our words and experience, we are living in a moment of self-reflection. Sometimes, I’ve even written an entry about my self-reflection of my previous entry! Many times, reflection can give us a completely different perspective from the one we held when we wrote the entry. After I reflect, that’s when I decide how I really feel about the situation at hand and what actions I need to take. This is where I feel the most calm and mindful.

4. Knowing Ourselves

Reflecting on our thoughts, words, and actions teaches us a great deal about how we handle different situations (for good or bad). Through journaling, I’m always learning about myself and uncovering the ways I’m processing the world around me. It’s also been fun (yes, fun) to watch my critical thinking skills improve and evolve over the years. For example, I’m handling professional matters far differently than I did at the very start of my career. This is a clear way I am able to see my own personal growth unfold over my lifetime.

5. Self-Awareness

Journaling has given me the chance to really know and understand myself at a deeper level. When we take the time to express ourselves (even just to ourselves), find a moment of peace to calm down, and reflect on our emotions and reactions, we are able to find a deep understanding of ourselves that turns from a reactive learning experience to self-awareness we can leverage in the moment. Now, I’m applying what I know now about myself or how I want to approach conflict proactively. I feel much more resilient and capable (and because my journal also serves as a record, I can prove my progress).

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of peace to the greatest amount of people, what would that be?

If I could inspire a movement that would bring peace to the most people, I would want to move people to put in the work it takes to know themselves deeply and care for themselves deeply so they can live their life in alignment with what they feel is right for them.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. :-)

I could not think of anyone I’d rather spend an hour with than Michelle Obama. Fittingly for this interview, I believe she embodies what it means to be calm, mindful, and resilient and I would treasure the opportunity to speak with her one on one.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/allisonbuehner/

Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/allyb17/

Learn more about Burning Soul Press: https://www.burningsoulpress.com/

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued fulfilment and success with your writing!

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