Does the word “journaling” give you scary flashbacks to high school English class? Do you see worrisome visions of blank pages, broken pencils, and ticking clocks? Maybe a threatening red pen hovers over your newly-hatched sentences? If you are a reluctant writer who thinks you couldn’t possibly have the time, patience, energy, courage, clarity, or gumption to start a journaling practice, give yourself a hug and think again.
I have seen the miraculous benefits of journaling. It can awaken self-awareness and help heal emotional wounds. Journaling is a simple but powerful way to get in touch with your feelings and recover your authentic self. When you give it your honest and heartfelt attention, your journal becomes a safe place to release negative feelings and discover buried truths.
Your journal doesn’t need to be hard work. You are not creating War and Peace, (although you may uncover some battlegrounds from your past). Your journal is not for a grade or for anyone but you. You are simply trying to capture the truth of what you think and feel. The more freely you capture words, the better. Give yourself complete freedom to write.
Be completely truthful in your journal. Say it like it is. If you’re angry, be angry. Write it out uncensored. The point is to be authentic. When you can trust yourself to be truthful on the pages of your journal, you can trust yourself to be truthful in the world. Just watch how your whole body relaxes as you express your truth. The movement of your hand over the paper or keyboard can release toxic energy and make room for healing energy to enter.
Why are so many important truths buried inside, unexpressed and even unknown? Children are often taught by society that feelings are bad and shouldn’t be felt, let alone expressed. Stuffing down emotions is the cultural norm. Yet in order to have a fulfilling life, complete with a healthy body and relationships, you must own your emotions. They are a natural part of you and need to be experienced fully and then let go. To be truly strong and joyful, you have to live in truth. Journal writing helps you do that.
Here are a few guidelines for getting the most out of journaling:
- Do it daily. Like brushing your teeth, create a habit that ensures good emotional hygiene. Get the old energy out, and then keep up the practice to prevent new toxins from accumulating.
- Use pencil and paper or keyboard and computer; both are equally effective. Your goal is a stream of consciousness, which will come about merely by using your body (your hands) to communicate.
- Be honest. Practice rigorous honesty about your feelings no matter what they are. It’s time to honor your emotions and this is the place to do it. Don’t hold anything back.
- Don’t edit or judge your writing. You are trying to tap into your deepest feelings, not create a perfect composition. You’re doing something important for your well-being, and that requires letting the thoughts and feelings flow uninterrupted.
- Keep your journal safe. Make sure it is tucked away in a secure place so you have the privacy you need to be honest with yourself. To be uninhibited in your journal writing, you need to know that it won’t be subject to the scrutiny of others.
- Share only if you want to. If there is a trusted friend, therapist, or other loved one with whom you want to share your writing, by all means do so. Revealing your truth to another person, who then gives you unconditional acceptance, will increase your ability to process out the energy.
- Be committed to the truth. Use your journal as a self-healing tool for your personal growth, self-improvement, emotional health, and physical well-being.
The goal is simple: to get to know yourself better. Telling the truth about your life is the first step toward positive change.