Why should I journal?
It’s an act of self-love.
If you Google “The Benefits of Journaling,” you will find numerous studies and articles. So, I won’t get into all that when others have done it so eloquently. Journaling can be many things at different times. Sometimes it’s a way to vent; other times to reflect. For me, it’s a way to validate my thoughts and feelings.
Personally, journaling started as a way to cope with my parent’s divorce and the many areas of my life it affected. It was my form of therapy. There was so much going on in my life that I needed help processing it all. At that time, therapy wasn’t an option though I definitely could’ve benefited from it. So instead, I bought a journal and started writing in it. At first, I felt silly. My writing needed to be a certain way to be worthy of being chronicled in a journal. However, after discussing journaling with some friends two weeks ago, I see that the feeling is still prevalent.
If you feel silly writing in a journal, you’re not alone. If you think, “What would I write?” you’re not alone. For some, writing comes easily and naturally (especially if you like to talk); for others, it’s not their thing. But we all have in common: we all have a mind that can be a challenging and lovely place to inhabit. The thoughts that run through our minds can provoke a broad spectrum of feelings. Some of those feelings are pleasant, and others not so much.
Journaling is a way to get friendly with all we are experiencing, good and bad. It’s a way to validate and process events in our life.
Luckily, most of us have a community with who we can talk about these events. And we absolutely should. Nothing replaces human connection. But how many times have we shared something without getting the response we needed? The person skipped over validation and went straight into “fixing” mode, giving us advice we didn’t ask for.
The only person who truly knows what we need is ourselves—the person who cares the most about us is us. The person we spend the most time with is ourselves. So why not talk to ourselves? Well, so many of us have lost touch with our inner being. To connect- and remain connected- to ourselves, we must practice loving ourselves, validating ourselves and being patient with ourselves. How do we do that? There are many ways! Journaling is just one practice.
Does every journal entry need to answer an existential question? No! Does every journal entry need to discuss something extraordinary or distressing? No! Journaling doesn’t even need to be done every day. But as with all things that are good for us, the more we practice, the more we feel its benefits. Therefore, journaling can be a conversation with yourself every other day. It can go something like this:
Hello, you wonderful human being! How was your day? What was the highlight? What could you have done to make your day better? Could you ask yourself those questions and write? You don’t need to worry about making it worthy.
Everything you have to say is worthy.
If your mind is being judgemental, be kind and patient with yourself. You are practicing self-love and it may take some time to write without judgement.
Sometimes, you’ll need help processing thoughts that create pleasurable or uncomfortable feelings. For example, you may be excited about something or sad about something. In those moments, pulling out your journal has many benefits:
- It helps slow you down. You can only write so fast. Pulling out your journal, finding a pen or pencil, opening a blank page, and writing all take time. It may only take minutes, but that can make a substantial difference in creating space between your thoughts and feelings.
- It’s validating. You are giving space and words to all that you’re feeling. Writing it down can be enough to show yourself that what you feel and think, matters.
- You are creating a safe space. I’m all about sharing vulnerability, but some things are very personal and, therefore, not meant to be shared. When you’re writing just for yourself, you can explore that vulnerability.
There are many ways to journal. Whichever one works for you is perfect.
Here are some suggestions:
- A blank notebook. Nothing but lined paper. Something like this.
- An ongoing computer document/app. Some people prefer typing because it’s faster.
- A guided journal. This one works great if you’re really stuck on the, “But I don’t know what to write!” There are some that are quick, like the Five Minute Journal and others that have different prompts. There is a huge variety of guided journals out there.
- Creative guided journal. Not all guided journals make you delve deep into feelings. Some are a more fun and creative way of expressing your thoughts and feelings. This creative guided journal is my favourite. Here is an example prompt, “What is more important in a friend: Someone who makes you laugh or someone who is always there for you?”
Maybe you have one of each! I do. Hey, even I prefer a prompt from time to time. It helps me get to know myself better. All of these suggestions are a start in getting to know yourself better. After all, you are your longest and most important relationship. You are worth getting to know and love.
However, it’s helpful to have a blank notebook for this section of my website. My forest walks always give me something to reflect on. Sometimes about myself, life in general, or spirituality. I’ll share those prompts with you so you can reflect on them. A blank notebook helps us write freely about whatever comes up.