Remember as teenagers, when we used to keep diaries? We filled them with the events of the day…what we thought about….our dreams…. our secrets?
It was incredibly cathartic to write all of the ‘things’ onto the page. It felt like someone was listening. It felt like a safe space to just dump experiences, events and emotions onto the paper.
Well, that’s it exactly.
Keeping a diary, is exactly the same as keeping a journal. Except now we’re adults. And at this point, it’s more about understanding ourselves and less about who likes who and who doesn’t.
What Journaling Is…
Journaling is about engaging in a brain dump. Allowing ourselves to express all of those things that are happening. All of the emotions and feelings that we’re experiencing around events, relationships and ourselves.
It’s about creating a safe space for developing an understanding of who we are….and perhaps why.
It’s about having the freedom to write. Everything.
- A safe space
- a place for reflection
- a place to express negative emotions
- a place for gratitude
- a place for self-compassion
- a place to organize thoughts
- a place for freedom of expression
What Journaling Is Not…
Journalling is not the place for critical analysis of what we feel, write or express. This is not the space for judgment or criticism. Any judgment defeats the purpose.
Journaling also doesn’t have to happen a certain way. It doesn’t have to be organized or structured. It doesn’t have to be a story..but it can be too.
How Journaling Helps…
There are many benefits to journaling including:
- Identify mistakes that you’ve made, and reflect on how to avoid them in the future.
- A safe space for emotional release and processing
- Review learning, cementing new concepts in your mind and keeping information fresh.
- Develop your critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
- Enhance your self-awareness
- Foster emotional intelligence.
- Manage stress more effectively.
The process is simple: Write. Everything and anything. Thoughts of the past, memories, difficult emotions, things that make you laugh, uncomfortable feelings, what you’re scared of, what you want….anything.
Allow yourself to be disorganized…especially if you’re processing difficult emotions.
Effective journaling can look like:
- Fast writing
- Block things out
- Point form
- Bold letters
- Letters that take up the entire page
- Circles and arrows to other things
…and so much more.
Then explore those thoughts. Be inquisitive. Be curious. Without judgment or criticism. Don’t make yourself wrong for what you write, feel or think.
We often process negative emotions or negativity around a situation or an uncomfortable feeling. When you are finished with your reflection, expression and journaling end with 3 points of gratitude. This will shift your mindset away from any residual negativity.
1. Choose a Format
Paper journals are the most common format: many people find that the physical act of “putting pen to paper” helps them to reflect.
Another option is to keep an electronic journal. This could be as simple as keeping a document on your computer, or making entries in a note app such as Google.
2. Pace Yourself
Your daily journal entry doesn’t have to be a novel! Go slowly at first. Write for five or 10 minutes, and then stop when you’ve had enough. Over time, you will find that you write longer when you need to.
3. Make Journaling a Habit
Journaling is a good habit to have but, like any habit, it takes time to make it stick.
To get the most from your journaling experience, pick a time (first thing in the morning or last thing at the end of the day) and stick to it.
4. Reflect on Your Experiences
Effective journaling combines a clear narrative about recent events with critical thinking about what you’ve learned – and, perhaps most importantly, what you can change or improve.
Whenever you journal, think carefully about the most important thing that’s happened to you since your last entry, and keep in mind that this event can be subtle.
And, if you can’t think of anything to record in your journal, simply focus on gratitude and note that.
5. Be Honest
Try not to “sugarcoat” events as you record them. You’ll only learn from your experiences if you’re honest about them. Be candid about what you thought, how you acted, or how a person or situation made you feel.
6. Focus on Positives and Negatives
Even if you’ve had a lousy day, try to reflect on at least one positive thing that happened – and the more you can think of, the better.
7. Don’t Censor Yourself
Try not to amend or censor what you write or say – just let the words (and feelings, emotions, and ideas) flow. This is the essential component to developing a practice that is valuable to you.
It is through this exploration and introspection, that we can begin to understand. We can begin healing. We can grow.
The purpose is understanding.
The purpose is to process your feelings, to write without judgment and to understand MORE about who you are, because of it.
If you’d like to learn more about any of the concepts discussed in this article, or if you’d like to partner to create change in your life, let’s have a conversation.
Katrina Murphy is a Professional Intuitive Mindset and Confidence Coach in Ontario, Canada, serving clients across Canada and internationally. Katrina helps professionals to change the relationship that they have with themselves so they can reconnect both in their relationships and at work. She’s been featured in various publications and is the creator of the Power-Passion-Purpose Framework.