Illustration by Sarameeya Aree
What if I told you that all your troubles, worries, and fears could be healed by picking up a pen and writing? It’s true. Writing is a great foundation tool for healing. It’s a practice that requires a commitment to being vulnerable, transparent, and reflective. Implementing a journaling routine will help you understand your feelings, cope with them and make changes.
Journaling may seem daunting to most, especially if it does not come to you naturally. Maybe you deal with personal conflict by conversing, through physical activities or artful expressions. You may fear having nothing to write about, be critical of your writing abilities, or think that it takes too much effort. But you have to release those doubts and just start writing. Allowing yourself full permission to write about whatever comes up is a form of healing.
Learning to express yourself and being more introspective about your thoughts through writing will reveal so much about who you are. And it will open up an array of possibilities when it comes to self-improvement.
Growing up, I was very reserved and bashful but also had an expansive imagination. Writing came naturally to me. I carried a journal wherever I went, and I would turn to my journal to jot down all the ideas that were in my head. Having the ability to write and record the sayings and sage advice of those around me brought me comfort. It was a way to set in stone a memory, idea, and words I never wanted to forget.
Throughout my teen and young adult years, I battled with depression and DPDR (depersonalization-derealization disorder). Simply put, I often did not feel like myself. I felt detached from my family, friends, and surroundings at times. Random periods of prolonged sadness and apathy plagued me. Dealing with these two issues made understanding and controlling my feelings difficult.
Whenever I went through these bouts of negative thoughts or felt I was losing myself, I turned to my journal as an outlet and a friend to confide in. Journaling became a grounding practice and helped change my perspective and habits.
Journaling can also be beneficial as a powerful tool to release, reflect, introspect, let go of things weighing you down, and transform yourself. For those looking to break free from the past and advance towards your desired future, here’s my advice on how to start journaling effectively.
If you want to let it go, you have to let it out
Releasing pent-up emotions and getting things that are bothering you off your chest, or out of your head, is a liberating experience and writing can be an effective tool for achieving this. To get to the truth of the matter, it’s important to allow your thoughts and emotions to flow freely. Research suggests writing continuously for at least 10-20 minutes and letting your stream of consciousness flow.
You can write about an event, emotional challenge, or feelings on a matter. Do not worry about structuring your writing or even making it coherent—writing single words, phrases, or even doodling can be helpful. The objective is to get all those thoughts and feelings swirling around in your mind out and onto paper or an electronic device. This is called expressive writing and it can be a powerful form of therapy. It can help you identify your feelings, their root cause, and accept them.
An honest look within
This is where problem-solving begins—writing with purpose helps discern your thoughts or actions. By reflecting on what you learned from your expressive writing, you can identify areas where changes need to be made. Consider questions like: Could the situation have been handled differently? Is there another perspective to be considered? Do new boundaries need to be set? What lessons were learned and how can they be applied?
By writing reflectively and using critical thinking to analyze your behavior and thoughts, you can target the issues and find answers. Another effective reflection technique is to imagine an alternative outcome. Rewrite the story and what you wish could have been different, which can help you gain a fresh perspective.
Your journal can serve as a helpful tool to remind you of the solutions and changes you want to make. By writing reflectively and examining your struggles, you can gain valuable insight into what you are struggling with and it can help you move forward.
Give it meaning, and create
Another way to cope with and process difficult emotions is by channeling them into creative expression. This can take many forms beyond writing and can bring feelings of peace and acceptance. Our feelings can be a source of inspiration, and when we direct them correctly, we can learn and create from them.
Exploring storytelling, poetry, or songwriting can help add value and perspective to what you’re going through. You’ll be able to learn from your struggle and transform the pain into something beautiful. This can be very rewarding. Then, later on, when you are comfortable and more accepting of what you’ve dealt with, you can also share your art. This can help us feel less alone, build community and learn from one another.
Begin to transform
Transforming your mindset requires actively questioning and releasing unwanted thoughts and challenges while taking action towards positive change. A helpful tool is to write down new reaffirming beliefs about the person you are and want to be, and repeating them until they become habitual thoughts.
You can also set goals for better habits, create new routines, and plan to achieve personal aspirations. Writing about how you want to transform will keep you encouraged and on track to realizing your goals.
Where the journey leads you
Embarking on a weekly journaling routine is a powerful first step in personal transformation. By becoming more aware of your strengths and weaknesses, you can develop and grow in unprecedented ways.
Journaling can help you identify areas you struggle with and provide clarity on how to improve and overcome them, leading to personal growth and gaining a deeper understanding of yourself. Through my own journaling practice, I discovered the power of personal development paved the way for the desired direction in my life and ultimately inner peace.
Journaling can do the same for you. Start today and see the incredible growth, progress, and transformation you can achieve in your life.