Four Keys to Successful Journaling
By Christin Snyder
In part one of The Healing Powers of Journaling we explored the various ways that journaling aids in personal empowerment and healing. 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 too 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.
There often comes the tendency to want to color our writing through judgment. We dont 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 . 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, dont 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; ie. 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.
By remembering these few guidelines, you can turn your journaling time into a powerful healing experience. Although the guidelines are universal, journaling itself is a truly unique experience for every person. Next we will explore some of these different styles. Everyone has his/her own preferences, and exploring the different options can help you find one that feels right for you.