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  • The Healing Powers of Journaling

    by Christin Snyder

    Words are powerful. They provoke thought, stimulate creativity, and most importantly, they hold within them the power to heal. Most people do not realize the incredible life-changing potential writing has.

    Journaling is a practical tool that anyone can use to enhance personal well-being. It knows no limitations and it is available to anyone willing to make a commitment to themselves. It only requires minimal investments of time and money, and provides fast results. From the practical to the artistic, there are many varieties of journaling styles, all providing healing benefits.

    Journaling helps clear the mind
    Journaling is an excellent method of clearing mind-clutter and managing thought patterns. The “untamed” mind tends to wander about aimlessly. At any given moment, we have a multitude of thoughts and internal conversations. Our random thoughts can turn into worries, which turn into stress, which can then manifest as conditions like depression or illness. The act of addressing our thoughts and acknowledging our inner voice allows us to clearly express our feelings, motivations, and desires. When we do this, we gain the insight needed to effectively manage them. What many fail to realize is that even seemingly-random thoughts hold powerful energy. All energy seeks an outlet to express itself, therefore what we think and believe manifests.

    Spend some time today consciously paying attention to where your thoughts go. Notice the ratio of positive to negative. When engaging in self-talk, what does the inner voice express? Is it primarily negative self-talk, worry, or other energy-zapping emotions? If so, journaling is a positive first step that can be immediately taken to help understand and then redirect these sneaky self-sabotagers.

    Journaling sparks creativity
    It is very important to always have an outlet that enhances our creativity by challenging us to think in new ways. Journaling provides that, because it causes us to purposefully express our thoughts and emotions. Through reestablishing a conscious connection to our thoughts, emotions, and experiences we provide the challenge our mind needs to keep its creative spark.

    Journaling keeps us honest
    When we approach journaling with an open mind and heart, and we commit to being completely candid with ourselves, we open up to limitless opportunity for growth and healing. Through total honesty, we begin to peel away the layers of our psyche. The masks we wear begin to fall away, revealing our true nature – who we are when we aren’t “the parent, the employee, the friend” and are just ourselves. Many spiritual paths have taught the importance of knowing yourself. The soul mate in the mirror is worthy of our utmost integrity.

    Journaling allows us to express ourselves without judgment
    Journaling provides a forum where we can express ourselves fully and completely. If we approach this honestly, a journal can become a best friend and confidant. It won’t give needless advice, is never too busy to listen, and is always there for you when needed. Acceptance is a quality we all seek; we have a deep drive to find it. The truth is, the majority of us seek in others what we cannot give ourselves. Journaling opens up the doors to a process of self-acceptance, without which true healing cannot occur.

    Journaling enhances conscious living
    Writing in a journal can have similar effects to meditation, in that it allows us to bring our attention to full and present awareness. This state of awareness shifts our perspective, and allows us to tap into reserves of creative energy. Many find themselves stuck in routines where the creative spark can become lost in the shuffle of the daily grind. When we run on “auto-pilot” we desensitize to other stimuli. Opening up to daily journaling allows us to reflect on the unique beauty of the present moment, and allows us to experience life more fully.

    Journaling shows progress at a glance
    The key to staying motivated is usually being able to see progress being made. Journals can provide much-needed encouragement for those working towards life-changing goals. When in the doldrums, it’s easy to flip back to the beginning to view the path of progress, providing the momentum and motivation necessary to ensure success. Journaling can be a great tool for the instant-gratification junkie in all of us.

     


     

    By using the following four guidelines, you can ensure you are getting the most out of your journaling experience.

    Avoid the pitfall of writing for others
    As a writer myself, I know all to well the tendency to write everything as if it were my next piece for publication. In journaling, it is best to express yourself freely, without the restriction of grammar rules, spelling, and all the other things that can cause distractions from the genuine purpose of the writing. When we write for an audience or to silence the inner critic, we become less candid and our writing is not an authentic expression of our true self.

    Be honest
    There often comes the tendency to want to color our writing through judgment. We don’t want to face things we deem as “unacceptable”. When the voice of the inner critic kicks in, it can be difficult not to “sugar coat” it. Writing that avoids the reality or depth of our thoughts/emotions does a great disservice. If you feel like slapping someone on a particular day, express it; don’t cover it up through downgrading it. If we are to learn from our thoughts/feelings/reactions then we must have a healthy outlet to express ourselves freely.

    Record events objectively first, then go back
    Record events and experiences as they happened, before writing about your reaction to them. For example, if you had an argument with a loved one write point by point what happened, i.e. “Mom came over, we were watching TV, she said she agreed with the host and I did not. I commented on my distaste for the program. She appeared to be upset. We had an argument.” This explains simply what happened. Once you have recorded the event, then go forward and fill in the blanks, explaining how the incident made you feel, what your thoughts were, and how you reacted.

    By recording exactly what happened first, we are better able to reflect on it at a later time. When you write in a state of reaction only, the actual events become harder to discern upon review. Having a more objective, factual vantage point helps us to view things from different perspectives. We all tend to see things differently when time has passed.

    Use the journal as an outlet for release
    A journal provides the perfect outlet for constructive expressions of our thoughts, desires, and emotions. Use your journaling to write about your fears, address anger, express frustration, and all of the other life-draining emotions we tend to keep bottled up. By repressing emotions we waste a lot of energy that could be put to better use. Journaling allows you that outlet so that you can reclaim that energy.

    Facing our tough issues allows us to release them, and release is the first step in the process of healing, hence the “healing powers of journaling”. Let your journal be a tool that helps detach you from emotional entanglements.

    All of these are examples of the many ways that journaling can provide the necessary tools for personal empowerment. Journaling is a wonderful journey in self-discovery. I hope this inspires others to take this self-healing challenge, pick up that pen or sit at the keyboard, and make a commitment to enrich life through the healing power of words.

    Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

    About the Authors

    Renascent Alumni
    Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email alumni@renascent.ca.