Writing in a journal has many advantages. It can clarify your goals and sharpen
your thoughts each day about what is important to you and what you really want out
of life. Your self-worth is enhanced as you note your daily achievements and joys of
life. Problems also seem minimized when they are written down on paper. You will
learn to express your feelings better, and when you learn to express your feelings,
you strengthen your relationships. Journaling can also be a form of meditation. It
can quiet your mind and focus your thoughts. It can reduce your anxiety, cheer you
up and make you smile.
Did you ever write a letter in anger to someone, but wind up not sending it?
Whether you did or didn't send it, it still gave you a form of relief in writing out on
paper your feelings, didn't it? Studies have revealed that people that write in personal
diaries or journals recover faster from personal tragedies and stressful events. It
makes you feel good to put your innermost thoughts on paper. In doing so, it has a
cathartic effect on your psyche because you've expressed yourself outwardly and no
longer have your feelings bottled up. When your thoughts are viewed on paper, they
seem more manageable.
Many people have emotional difficulties in life because they simply have not
bothered getting in touch with their emotions. It's like the old saying, "Before all
else, to thine own self be true; know thyself." In fact, repressing your feelings is one
of the leading causes of mental illness. Many times, friends, taxi drivers and
psychiatrists serve the purpose of acting as a sounding board, and thereby allowing
you to get in touch with the feelings that are troubling you. Keeping a journal will
help you know yourself better and thereafter express yourself more clearly.
As an exercise, experiment for yourself with journal writing. If you have a
perplexing life situation, express yourself and write your feelings out on paper or in a
journal. Describe the emotions you can identify. Oftentimes, greater clarity can be
yours as to what to do next when you write about your emotional troubles in a
Another exercise in emotional coping can be writing down an overview of your
life story or a brief autobiography of yourself. You might begin by writing about
whatever memorable words and phrases you can remember from your childhood.
Without realizing it, many of these early shoulds and should nots & dos and don'ts
may be inhibiting your freedom, censoring your awareness and restricting your
energy. Honestly evaluate what you've written and determine for yourself whether it's still useful or valid for your life. Write down meaningful changes and events all
the way to the present time. Afterwards, reading what you have written to yourself
or even sharing it with someone else that has done likewise can provide you with
powerful insight toward improvement. When two or more people do this in an
honest and reciprocal way, a broader picture is often afforded to all concerned. Self-
acceptance, self-worth and self-confidence is more easily embraced.
A further exercise in journal writing is to keep yourself focused on your goals in
life. This often entails an awareness of your daily states of mind that may be
blocking you each day. By writing down on a daily basis your progress toward spe-
cific goals, you can keep yourself on target and see where stuck conditions or reactive
emotions are keeping you from achieving your goals. You could write Headings in
your journal with daily progress notes alongside them and possible conflicts you
encounter. Any journal format will do, even a 3-ring binder or a computer page.