Journalling is a safe place where you can find clarity and the true meaning of your life…
Keeping a journal let’s you dive deep into your soul, where thoughts and emotions can roam free without any fear of judgement or criticism from others. It’s a safe place where you can find the meaning of your life, where you can honestly evaluate your desires, dreams, performances and identify the areas in your life lacking, and on which you need to work on.
Keeping a journal is not the same as keeping a diary. A diary is where you record facts of daily occurrences. Journaling is zoning into these facts; gathering your higher thoughts and validating internal experiences.
It’s where you evaluate your reactions and perceptions of a specific event, searching for clarity, and reaching a deeper understanding of yourself to make positive changes where necessary.
Journaling increases self-awareness and is an outlet for processing emotions. When you start to look at things objectively, you can also better understand other points of view.
Journaling is therefore particularly helpful if you struggle with trauma, such as illness, addiction, relationship problems, grief, depression or anxiety as it helps to gain better control of your emotions.
It takes the edge off more toxic feelings and emotions, and helps you better understand what you’re feeling, freeing up thinking space to gain clarity on what to do next.
Benefits of journaling
Keeping a journal allows you to track patterns and trends that can help your development and growth over time. It’s a book of reference on previous dilemmas that you’ve ve resolved, or where you can find guidance to keep yourself focused and on track.
Journaling offers a myriad of benefits:
- Evaluating your thoughts, emotions, and behavior
- Exploring solutions and possible outcomes
- Bringing your emotions and motivations into alignment with your core values
- Improving emotional intelligence and empathy
- Increasing your tolerance of mundane normal living
- Helping you find direction and take a definite course of action
- Managing anxiety, reducing stress, and coping with depression
- Helping you prioritize problems, fears, and concerns
- Providing an opportunity for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts and behaviors
Journaling is like therapy
Expressive writing promotes long-term health benefits such as better physical and emotional health, improved immune system, liver and lung functioning, improved memory, reduced blood pressure, fewer stress-related doctor visits, improved mood and greater psychological wellbeing. Other therapeutic effects include the enhanced ability to express feelings, which lead to greater self-awareness and acceptance, helping to form a healthy relationship with yourself.
Writing is a reflection of your thoughts, offering you a glimpse into your mind like nothing else can. You get to know the real you; what makes you happy, confident or sad, what you like, what you don’t like, what you fear and when to be bold. You gain a heightened self-awareness of everything about yourself. By writing routinely, you will get clarity on all situations and the people you’re involved with, on what to do next, or where you want to be.
Better at observing
A journal lets you notice the smaller details of your experiences. Writing about it can make you a better observer, because you pay a different kind of attention to it, and you can also then identify the same issue or problem in others. The result is heightened senses, and living with greater richness and complexity.
It helps find your purpose
Journaling is reflections of your mental, emotional, and imagistic occurrences. The more mindful you become, the more likely you will capture the essence and details of each event. Over time you can see patterns emerge, which are significant for finding your true purpose and meaning in life.
Improves emotional intelligence
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to perceive and manage your emotions, and that of others. Journaling thus becomes a bridge of empathy, as you’ll better intuit and understand what others are experiencing which allows for a much deeper connection.
Journaling helps you to approach life from a different perspective and can bring about lots of ideas. It can even spill over into other areas of your life like music, painting and sculpting.
Journaling can help you recall pleasant moments, which improves memory and comprehension. Organizing your thoughts and presenting them clearly on paper, boosts cognition and can help to sort and categorize experiences so you can become more intentional about where you life is going.
Segments of journaling
A gratitude section
Since antiquity, philosophers and sages from every spiritual tradition, taught that gratitude is the key to experiencing deeper levels of happiness, fulfillment, and wellbeing.
Dutch philosopher Rabbi Baruch Spinoza, one of the earlier advocates of a daily gratitude practice who lived in the seventeenth century, suggested that each day for a month, you should consciously focus your mind on your blessings, and ask yourself the following questions to help you find more meaning and joy:
- Who or what inspired me today?
- What brought me happiness today?
- What brought me comfort and deep peace today?
The time of day of writing about gratitude in your journal isn’t important he said. But what is important, is that by offering gratitude for all the goodness you experience, you’re inviting the universe to give more and more of what you want.
Also note down the small acts of kindness you’ve received and which you can repeat for others: For instance, a stranger who paid for your coffee, someone who opened a door for you, or offered to help you carry your bags. One day when you reflect back to this when feeling despondent, you can still find solace in the fact that there are still lots of goodness in the world.
A self-insight and reflection section
Patterns of behaviour that you noticed and which you just can’t break out of (recurring problems or difficulties) can be written down in this section. Over time you’ll learn the truth about yourself; how, why and where your motivation waxes and wanes, how many projects you let die after a brief burst of excitement, or what topics you return to again, and again. Look for strong emotions that occur frequently, such as anger, misery, or excitement.
Gifts to your future-self section
Keeping a journal today means you can look back in a couple of years to learn what you were thinking about, dreaming of, or hoping for. Write a note to yourself in the future and where or who you want to be in five or ten years. Note some ideas about the main strands of your life – are you happy with your job, your relationships, your health and fitness?
Goals accountability section
For important life changes in facts and figures. Seeing your progress on paper helps you to carry on when your motivation is low. Pick an area of your life where you want to improve. Set a specific goal with steps to get there. For the following week, write down how you did each day and applaud your progress as you proceed.
Positive thinking section
Don’t dwell on things that went wrong in this section, leave that for the self reflection section. Focus on only the positive aspects of your day or week. You’ll soon see faster change in your life with positive input and self-talk.
A life worth living section
List all the things that make your life more fun, enjoyable, and inspiring. Find small joys and inspirations everyday, things you found valuable or interesting. Over time you’ll realize that your life is much more interesting and deep than you once thought.
Sprint – Just write what comes to mind for five minutes without thinking or evaluating. Read and then start to evaluate, discern or categorize.
Bullet lists – Write any number of connected items in order to help prioritize and organize.
Captured moments – Completely describe the essence and emotional experience of a memory, what you saw, felt, heard, smelled. Find the inspiration and value from it.
Unsent letters – This is to silence your internal turmoil. This can be used in processing grief, or when trying to get over traumas. Write a letter to yourself, or directed at the cause of the pain and blurt out everything.
Dialogue – Creates both sides to a conversation involving anything; people, the body, events, situations, anything – so you can better understand a person’s different point of view or take on a different perception of a situation.
Feedback – The feedback technique is important to journal therapy, as it makes you aware of your feelings. This allows you to acknowledge, accept and reflect on what your feelings and thoughts.
Try to write every day – The self-discipline required to maintain a consistent writing schedule also spills into other areas of life, where one good habit begets another, like starting a regular meditation practice.
Make it easy – Keep a pen and paper handy at all times (or notes on your mobile or laptop) to jot down quick thoughts.
Create the right environment – Try to dedicate a quiet space for journaling. You’ll start to associate writing with this area which will automatically put you in the right frame of mind. Create a space ideal for eliciting thoughts and ideas, like comfortable pillows, soft lights, lots of fresh air and soothing music.
Review and evaluate – After writing, walk away for an hour or so, or do this the next day or every week: evaluate what you’ve written as an objective outside observer, and ask yourself:
What can I learn from this? What do I have to do to move beyond this? How can I improve this situation? How can I evolve this so it benefits me? Will this have the same effect on others?
Your journal is always there for you
Your journal is both therapist and a dear friend who listens without judging or interrupting. You can tell it anything and everything without being judged. And it’s there for you 24/7. It’s free, accessible and easily self-managed with no few effects.
When consciously and attentively looking over your journals, you’re able to track your personal behavioral patterns that help you achieve goals and respond effectively to challenges. It can identify the bad patterns that get in the way of personal and professional growth, and in forming healthy relationships.
When you start to write about your feelings – and how situations can change your feelings – you start to process those feelings and not bottle them up inside. In being mindful of what you’re discovering, you can move from knowing to doing, and can understand your emotions better, which will lead to a more serene and happy life.
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