Journaling is not a practice that came naturally to me. In fact, for the first three decades of my life, I did not engage in writing–in any form–voluntarily. I’ve learned that I share this experience with many reluctant writers who have suffered from the traumatic experience of writing in school: assigned topics for which I held little interest and imposed general interference with everything I enjoyed more than writing–which was everything–and the torture of procrastination followed by the embarrassment of the red pen. No fun there.
it’s good to acknowledge the root of our resistance, but I must say I have grown to enjoy journaling and appreciate the immense value of putting thoughts and feelings on paper. In more recent history, I’ve journaled my way through tough challenges and chronicled some of the happiest moments of my life.
Many of my clients resist journaling and while I completely understand, I believe in its power enough that, daily, I encourage personal writing as a follow-up to both group and individual therapy sessions. Writing is a tool that’s value goes far beyond documentation, but toward realization and epiphany. Sometimes we write to organize our thoughts or to help us discover our true feelings–a way to learn what is going on inside of us. A pathway toward understanding and authenticity.
Some journaling tips:
- Invest in a journal and pen you enjoy using.
- Set aside a designated time to be in solitude–even if it’s just 10 minutes.
- Dismiss your inner critic–your spelling and punctuation will not be graded and no “correct” way to journal exists.
- Start small–try lists of gratitudes, blessings, or quotations–just don’t get hung up on format.
You may wish to write letters (not necessarily with the intent to send), respond to an inspirational passage, a book, movie, podcast or photo. You might begin with simple prompt like . . .
- I remember . . .
- What if . . .
- I wish . . .
- I know . . .
- I wish I had known ____________ when I ____________.
- Dear 10-year-old me . . .
Try to write daily for three days, a week, then a month. If you skip a day or two, forgive yourself and start up again. Simply write and allow; your efforts will surprise you. Daily, short, motivational reading paired with a brief written response will result in self discovery and satisfaction beyond what you might imagine.