When we journal we can come to a startling realization, if we haven’t stumbled on it already. We’re not human “doings”, we’re human “beings”. And journaling is the perfect way to find out who that is if you haven’t yet figured it out. So when you journal:
- Don’t hold back, write as much as you need to as honestly as you can.
- Reflect on things going on around you.
- Contemplate relationships.
- Ponder things that puzzle you.
- Celebrate everything!
- Ruminate when you’re angry.
- Say all the things you can’t say to someone else.
“I soothe my conscience now with the thought that
it is better for hard words to be on paper
than that Mummy should carry them in her heart.”
— Anne Frank
- Pound out ideas.
- Express ALL your emotions, positive AND negative.They’re just emotions. It’s what you do with them that counts, and releasing pent up emotions is not only good for you, but for those around you. So discharge those negative emotions. (Believe me others will thank you for it!)
In fact, discharging your emotions is very “cathartic.” Catharsis is a Greek word that means cleansing. Studies have shown that trauma sufferers who journal actually have a higher immunity to illnesses, fewer doctor visits, and improved physical and mental health. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it works that way for everyone.
Janet Thomas started a blog about therapeutic writing that has morphed into Elixir: Creative and Reflective Writing. Early on she posted some interesting articles about the efficacy of writing. Stop by and visit her blog.
But just as an aside, sometimes journals are meant to be read. When we took our first steps toward foreign adoption, I started an “Adoption Journal.” It began the day I mailed a query letter off to Holt International Children’s Services in Portland, Oregon, and, amazingly, ended (ran out of pages) the night we picked Kavitha (Stef) up from the airport in Portland. That journal contains every feeling I experienced over the year plus we were waiting for Stef. Fear, joy, sadness, anticipation, self-doubt about being an adoptive parent… It’s all in there. But I started that journal with a specific purpose in mind. I gave it to Stef when she turned 16. She now has a record of everything we went through during her adoption, including her biological mother’s own doubts about putting her up for adoption and what happened after that. (see Choosing Adoption)
The main thing is, be yourself. Say what you need to no matter your “tone of voice.” Even if you have to say it over and over again to hear (understand) what you’re saying. (This quote bears repeating…)
“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”
E. M. Forster
Which brings us to one last thing. Some people are intimidated by the idea of keeping a journal. They’re more than a little anxious about actually writing down their own TRUTH so honestly for fear someone else will read it. And let’s face it, speaking our truth can leave us feeling pretty vulnerable. So just out of idle curiosity, have any of you ever felt that way, or have you never started a journal for that reason?
Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. Or if you find you have a lot to say, I invite you to do so on your own blog and pingback to this post.