Imagine having a personal therapist who is not only available 24/7, but who is also free of charge! That sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Well, that’s what a personal journal is.
Hi! My name is Grace Kariuki, and I am an active advocate of journaling, and for very good reasons.
There are different types of journals:
– Gratitude / Positive affirmations
-Mental Wellness Journal
-Art / Visual Journaling (expressing through visual arts like painting and drawing)
-Unsent letter journaling
– Intuition Journaling
– Mentor Journaling (writing unsent letters to your heroes, mentors and those who inspire you
-Letters to your younger self (goal being self-forgiveness and affirmation of your younger self)
-Identifying your critical self in order to replace the negative narrative.
For personal development, journaling is a great tool for improvement of clarity and focus. When you journal, you are able to keep track of your goals and have a sense of accountability to yourself. There are times when it can feel like a chore – you may feel exhausted and the last thing you want to do is pick your pen and journal. I understand. We all have those days. Let’s think of it this way – journaling is as important to your mind as washing up is to your body. In the same way that we tend to the rest of our bodies, such as feeding them and cleaning them and giving them rest, our minds could do with some good care as well. Writing helps your creativity flow. Many great writers discovered and honed their gift in writing by journaling.
Journaling is well known to be great for our mental health. When we journal, we are ideally expressing ourselves in a safe space. We get to write down our thoughts and speak our truth. Writing by hand helps you become more present – it increases your mindfulness, as you have to slow down your thoughts and write them down. That writing also helps us develop more self-compassion. You are free to remind yourself that you are loved. You are able to solve problems, track your personal behavioral patterns and be honest with yourself about your feelings. By writing things down, you can take the edge off toxic emotions and gain clarity on steps you need to take in your future. Your personal journal is like a support system that listens to you and allows you to be yourself. Isn’t that something that we all need?
It is not unusual to get an ‘Aha!’ moment as we journal. As we write, we discover our voice. We get empowered. We own our story and reflect on it. You can look back on your entries and see how far you have come, how you have handled challenges over time. It is in that journal, that you can discover your super-powers of self-compassion and gratitude.
Speaking of gratitude, have you heard of a gratitude journal? This can be as easy as writing down 5 things that you are grateful for. And even in the toughest of times, there is always something to be grateful for. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is one way that we get to grow. We build resilience by realizing that there is something good happening in different areas of our lives. That also motivates us to be better and keep striving to achieve what we are setting out to. Recording the things we are grateful for shifts our mindset with every attempt. Being conscious of our blessings helps us achieve more.
I have found that journaling also helps recovering drug & alcohol addicts, and it is something that I highly recommend when doing therapy sessions with them.
How do we journal in the evening?
Take a notebook (journal) and write using this format:
- What happened today? These are the events that you deem important or those that impacted you emotionally.
- How did you feel about what happened?
- What thoughts did you have about what happened, and what are you thinking now about what happened?
- What did you do to react / respond to what happened?
- What would you like to change about how you reacted / responded to the situation?
- Lessons learned: you can identify anything that the situation helped you gain insight into who you are and how you deal with life, people and situations. For instance, you have already identified that you tend to choose peace with others at the expense of your inner peace (an example of self-abandonment).
There is also the concept of ‘Mental Dumping’. This is where you set aside 10-20 minutes of ‘dumping on paper’ whatever is in your mind. It has no method – you just write whatever comes to mind. Afterwards, you can arrange the thoughts in several categories like: Action needed, lesson learnt, general thought and need to trash.
Let’s use the idea of decluttering a closet, for instance. You sort through what needs to be kept (actionable thoughts, learning thoughts, just thoughts). Then throw away whatever else needs to go.
A gratitude journal can also be a prayer journal. You can combine all by doing the decluttering, then ending with the gratitude and prayers that you write to God about what happened.
How did you sleep? Did you have any dreams that are worth exploring? What are you feeling this morning? If you listen to nay devotions or inspirational messages, what stood out to you? What are your plans for the day?
Here’s another way you can journal, as recommended on meraki lane.
- If you could achieve anything in life, what would it be, and why?
- What are three things that scare you most, and why?
- What are three things you can do to enhance your mental wellbeing?
- Write about a difficult time in your life, and how you overcame it.
- Write a letter to your biggest supporter (you don’t have to give them, if you do not want to)
- What are three things that made you happy today?
- If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
- Describe a time in your life when you failed – what did you learn from it?
- What are 3 of the biggest lessons you have learnt from having depression / anxiety?
- If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be and why?
- What does your ideal life look like?
- Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 20 years?
- How would you describe yourself to a stranger?
- What are your top 5 values in life?
- What is something that nobody knows about you? Why have you kept it a secret?
So…is journaling something that you do, or would consider doing? Do share your thoughts on it!