One of the most powerful tools we have available to us is our ability to give words to our inner experience – our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and intentions. Journaling is the practice of writing these things down, and can be a great way to work through difficult emotional issues. Many of us have difficulty getting into the habit of journaling or honing the practice into something that benefits us. One reason for that is our inner experience can seem jumbled and difficult to articulate. As well, we can encounter some very difficult feelings as we start to write, so we end up avoiding it altogether.
Why should we try journaling? What are the benefits? What is the use of writing things down – how we feel, what we think, and what we are doing and planning?
Here are some the benefits of journaling:
- Expressing yourself without distraction – whenever you are trying to get a hold of your thoughts, there are distractions that are more than happy to take center stage. Even talking to someone who is just listening, you can get distracted by our own thoughts about what the other person is thinking. Journaling, at its best, eliminates distractions so you can access what you really think.
- Getting to clear thinking – through the use of journaling, you can sift through all the thoughts that need to be discarded, organized or reformed and have more clarity. It’s like setting everything out on a table and then just organizing it all into some basic categories.
- Strengthening your inner voice – there is a voice that exists inside you at your core you are not always in touch with because of the cacophony of other voices competing for your attention. Journaling allows you to slow down and listen to your own true voice.
Below are some helpful tips to make journaling effective:
- Do it even if you don’t feel like it. You may feel like you have nothing to write, but your brain is always working, always processing information and it will benefit from the exercise of allowing your thoughts to flow out onto paper.
- Be 100% transparent. It may be a good idea to hide your journals somewhere no one will find them, and have someone dispose of them when you are gone so you can be 100% honest and transparent. Obviously you will not be able to be as honest if you think someone might read it. Being honest with yourself is the first step to being able to reveal your true thoughts and feelings to others, something that will be immensely beneficial to your relationships.
- Don’t worry about it being organized or on-subject. You will notice your writing is unfocused and even spastic, especially when you first start journaling or if you haven’t journaled in a while. Don’t worry about it. Your journaling is not going to be presented to anyone. The more you journal, the more it will become organized because your thinking will become more organized! When you first start writing, just write down anything and everything that comes to mind. Then you will start to be able to organize your writing into meaningful themes.
Journaling can be a very effective practice in combination with developing some relationships where you can gain perspective and experience connection on a deep level. If you want to try journaling, just start small: maybe just take 5 minutes and write a few times a week. The hope is that you will see the benefits and make it a routine practice that benefits you greatly. Let us know if you have any useful tips you have learned while journaling.