How Journaling Can Help You Heal & Self Develop
Journaling is a written communication tool used mainly for yourself. In some ways, through journaling you are reflecting back to yourself what you feel, think and what you are experiencing both in your inner world and in your outer reality. You are mirroring and reviewing your experience in writing, putting words to your experience which makes it more ‘graspable’. This is why journaling is so grounding.
It is one of the tools I use daily and I give all my clients journaling prompts to do when we start working together.
The great thing about journaling is that it’s free and you can do it any time you wish, all you need is a pen and paper. I personally like to have a nice-looking journal that is enticing, one that makes me want to write in along with a pen that feels good to write with. I know — how very romantic and feminine of me 🙂
Keeping a self healing journal over time will help you understand your inner world and to connect with yourself.
By constantly going within, you are getting to know yourself which will make you more self-aware. Considering your immediate reality is a reflection of what is happening in your inner world, this will be an invaluable tool for you to start using daily because the impact of journaling happens over time.
When it comes to healing emotional wounds, one of the hardest things is sitting and feeling the emotion and this is where journaling is a powerful grounding tool which can support you in processing your emotion.
I read somewhere a long time ago that journaling actually speeds up your healing by 50%! There are many other research showing the benefits of journaling for healing — some even stating it can reduce physical symptoms of asthma, anxiety even rheumatoid arthritis.
Benefits of journaling:
- Writing to heal trauma and support your healing process
- Help you process negative emotions
- Reduce emotional and mental stress
- Clear your mind
- Improves mental well-being
- Helps you work through challenges
- Support you in solving personal and relationship problems
- Develop emotional intelligence
- Boost self-esteem & self-confidence
- Increase intuition
- Improve memory
- Spark creativity
- Better sleep
- Understand emotions, patterns and experiences
- Helps you process traumatic events and negative experiences
- Receive insights, ideas and creative solutions to challenges
The list can go on…
The main reason I started journaling was to express my emotions. I find journaling very grounding, it’s a way to channel emotions and thoughts instead of leaving it “in the air” so to speak, instead of just simply suppressing or denying them. It’s a way to acknowledge what you feel or the thoughts you are having so that, whether it’s in the moment or after, you can eventually go deeper and process the core wound or life experience.
I’ve had many times where in the middle of journaling, I was able to access deep healing grief — I had to stop to process this before continuing. Or all of a sudden, in the middle of journaling, I would gain some incredible insights I was not aware of before about some of my patterns or emotional blocks.
Journaling Tips before you begin:
1. Write by hand
The first thing I always recommend to my clients is that, when you are journaling about emotions or an experience, handwrite it. In fact, when it comes to journaling, always handwrite mainly because your handwriting is directly linked to your subconscious. When I did my hypnotherapy training there was a whole section on handwriting analysis which fascinated me. You can actually “read” people’s behaviour and thinking patterns through their handwriting. Your signature, on the other hand, tells you a lot about you! But this I will leave for another blog perhaps. Having said this, you can actually start to change your handwriting consciously to change your thinking patterns and behaviour to support your healing journey because at the end of the day, I honestly believe that it is the emotional wound that keeps people stuck – If you’ve been following me for a while you will know I could go on and on about this.
2. Go to the bottom of your emotion or experience
The second thing is, if you’re using journaling for emotional healing, when you start journaling about an emotion, stressful event or traumatic experience, do not stop until you feel you have expressed the emotion fully and completely in writing. This is very important as very often once you start going deep, emotions that you feel uncomfortable with and have denied or suppressed may come up to the surface and because of this, you may want to stop. This is the moment in which you must proceed and go deeper as uncomfortable as it feels — you are on the verge of a breakthrough.
That being said, keeping a journal is not just about expressing emotions, there are many other types of journals that you can start without getting too emotional but still keep you connected to your inner world. Below are some reflective journal prompts ideas.
Journaling prompts & things you can ponder on in your healing journal:
- Traumas and painful experiences
- Daily feelings, thoughts and emotions
- Situations & people that trigger you & why
- Questions you have about yourself, others, the laws of nature, God or life
- Patterns you feel stuck in
- Ideas & Inspirational quotes
- Funny moments, jokes or ironic situations
- Coincidences and synchronicities
- Letters to God about your questions, current emotional state, your desires, struggles or beliefs
- Forgiveness letters (including yourself)
- How you sabotage yourself
- The excuses you make to avoid doing what you truly desire
- Journaling to heal after a breakup
- Doubts and fears you have
- Quotes that resonate with you deeply
- Joyful experiences or moments
- Things you are grateful for
- Insights or new awareness you have
- Cut out and stick magazine photos or words that appeal to you
- Drawing, doodles or stick figures of your thoughts, feelings or ideas
- List of activities of things you want to try, explore or start doing
- Poems you love or lyrics to your favourite songs
- Streams of consciousness of thoughts and words that come to you unfiltered
- A list of different perspectives on specific situations
- Brainstorm solutions to a problem/issue
- Unfulfilled dreams you have
- Things you want to say to people but can’t or won’t as well as exploring why not
- Your biggest regrets
- The hardest but best decisions you made and the impact it had on your life
- Your intuitive hits or gut feeling about people or situation
- Your achievements & things you feel proud of
- Qualities you would like to develop more of
- Your dreams, goals and heart’s desire for the future
As you can see the list is endless…
And the best is there is no right or wrong with this process – this is your time for expressive writing whether it’s about your daily life thoughts and muses, to process a traumatic event and just get your feelings down on paper or you want to get into a daily habit of expressing your feelings of gratitude, get expressive and be creative.
The only thing I do recommend is to focus on your emotions when it comes to processing emotional experiences rather than stating facts, pointing fingers and blaming. Remember that self-development and the healing journey is about going within and healing yourself in order to grow and evolve spiritually, emotionally and mentally.
My personal journal is all over the place. I will literally write things in no particular order, the grammar is not correct and I make no effort to keep it structured in any way. Keeping a journal is for you and not for anyone else so don’t be concerned about spelling mistakes, punctuation or making it neat or structured.
Allow yourself the creative space to be and write whatever comes through and whatever it is you are feeling in the moment.
To get started I would recommend at least 15-20mins of journaling daily. This is really a regular practice or daily ritual rather than a one-off thing. Remember you will feel the benefits over time the more you journal and connect with your inner world, so don’t expect a miracle insight or breakthrough after your first journal entry. Make it easy on yourself and do your best to enjoy it rather than doing it as an obligation – your intention for doing this is important. Having said that, I understand that sometimes there can be resistance and if there is, you can journal about the resistance, why you don’t want to or think it’s a waste of time or it’s stupid. For example, I did this when I started the morning pages (explained below), all I did was complain for the first three months! LOL
Anyway, write what feels right for you in the moment.
3. Do Morning Pages (optional)
There is another writing technique called the Morning Pages, which I always recommend to my clients. I got this from the book The Artist Way by Julia Cameron. This is different from journaling as it’s used for more of a mind dump or mental detox. In short, you have a pen and paper by your bedside table and the first thing you do when you wake up is, write for 15-20mins non-stop all your thoughts unfiltered. It doesn’t have to make sense, all you do is pay attention to the thought and write it down. I resisted this process for about three months, and I felt that because I was resisting it so much, it’s actually what I needed so I made a decision and committed. I personally had a HUGE breakthrough with this process but it took about 6-8 months of doing the morning pages daily before my thoughts started to change. If this feels right or if you’re resisting it, DO IT!
One last thing, if negative emotions or emotional wounds from past traumatic experiences start emerging that you are not able to cope with, please seek professional help.
Do you have a journaling practice? What do you enjoy about it? And if you don’t, did I make you curious to try? Let me know in the comments below.
If you need support on your healing journey and want more personalized guidance check out my Intuitive Coaching & Emotional Healing Sessions and let’s get you started on getting your life back.
All techniques and information I share are considered coaching, self-help or complementary therapies. I am not a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist or medical doctor, I have a degree in Health Sciences in Complementary Therapies. Everything I write and talk about comes mainly from my own experience in healing myself and the tools, techniques, and resources I learned throughout my own inner journey.
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Great post. I’m going through a few of these issues as well..
Thank you for this post. I really enjoy this. I have tried to keep a journal several times, but I often feel resistance to keep going. So I thought it would be better to type it out since I often use my phone or laptop. I didn’t realize that writing it myself has its benefit. Maybe I will try that soon.
Thanks for sharing Deasy. I worked with a client once who resisted hand writing to the max so I encouraged him to type just to get him started which he did so whatever gets you to do it I guess is good. Although as I mentioned your hand-writing is directly linked to your unconscious. I do believe it has more benefits and goes deeper than just typing. But maybe it’s because I just love the whole ritual of journaling, getting a pen that feels good to write with and a note book with quality paper, a nice cuppa – I’m a geek like that 🙂