Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Journaling For Teens

What is journaling? Journaling is a way of expressing oneself, getting to know oneself, and becoming aware of one’s thoughts, moods, emotions, and desires.
You can have 1 or 2 journals. One journal can be used for personal matters, expressing thoughts or other everyday stuff. The second journal can be related to goals and things you want to achieve. Or you can use one journal for everything.

Journaling is a great way to express positive and negative emotions. It’s particularly helpful to journal your thoughts and emotions if there is a something important going on at school, with your friends, at home with the family, etc. And it’s a great tool for individuals who don’t have anyone to share feelings with.

Many health professionals recommend journaling to clients who are going through a difficult time. Journaling, however, is a good way to help you figure out next steps to everything in life. Everyone is faced with challenges; people who do well are usually those who have someone or something to speak to.

Guy-girl difference?

Guys and girls journal in the exact same way. It’s whatever you feel most comfortable with and it's all about expressing your thoughts and emotions. If you're having a tough time with it, it's because you're not used to sharing feelings out loud. Guys may have a tougher time with this if they aren’t used to speaking about what’s going on inside their head. If this describes you, the trick is to get used to it. This comfort level comes with practice.

Tips for Journaling:

1. Just start: Journaling is all about just starting. There aren’t right things to include and wrong things to exclude. It can be a little intimidating to put your most intimate thoughts on paper in the beginning but it gets easier the more you do it. Since it's a private thing no one will ever read it (and it's highly recommended you don't share your journal with anyone because you're more likely to filter what you say).

2. No judging: Don't judge yourself in any way! Don't call yourself names for thinking and feeling certain things. All emotions need to be exercised and emotions come up based on your interpretation (thoughts) of events.

3. Where to start: Start with 1 sentence (or a picture)...of whatever subject you have in mind. What's the problem or what's good about it? How does it make you feel? Why? Dig deep to get your concerns out. Don't edit your thoughts and keep writing as long as the thoughts keep coming. You’ll find that one thought leads to the next and the next.

4. No distractions: As your thoughts start to flow, don't cut them off prematurely (e.g., to answer the phone, get a drink, watch interesting segment on TV) or this process will feel unsatisfying. When you get the desire to journal, put all distractions away so you don’t lose your train of thought. The more quality you put into it, the more you will get out of it.

5. Freestyle: There is no recommended way for journaling. You can write, draw, sketch, scratch out, write down lyrics of songs, draw connecting lines, glue in pictures, staple important items into it, etc. Whatever technique you are most comfortable with to express your emotions is what you ought to use.

6. When: Start now! There is no better time.

Best Wishes to You and Your Family!

Ivana Pejakovic, Life Coach in Toronto

Journaling For The Everyday Parent

Recently there has been a lot of talk about the therapeutic powers of journaling. Professionals are encouraging people to journal their goals, thoughts, problems, and everything! It appears that sharing thoughts and emotions on paper has the similar remedial effect to speaking about them out loud.

Given how effective journaling is in other areas of life, I frequently encourage the parents I work with to keep a journal regarding daily parenting. There are a lot of bumps and bruises parents experience along the way to raising their kids. While your family may not need professional assistance, it is healthier for you to have an outlet for your thoughts regarding your family concerns and questions.

Parents who journal have told me they’ve had insight on how to deal with certain situations.

If you’d like to start but are having problems getting started, let me guide you in your first 10 entries or so. Here is a structure you can use but it doesn't have to go this way (there are many things for you to think about...not all of my steps may apply to the topic you choose).

Journaling is about writing it down:

If you're having problems getting started, it may be because you’re afraid/worried/concerned/ about actually putting your most intimate thoughts on paper...all of a sudden it just makes it all too real and maybe a little scary. Expressing your thoughts, however, is also liberating after you get over the initial discomfort. The trick is not to hold back any of your thoughts.

Journaling is about expressing your emotions:

Express anger, joy, love, stress, and other feelings and use any words you like. Journaling is all about expression. Don’t feel guilty for feeling certain emotions or using certain words. Acknowledging the emotions must come before the solution.

Consider these questions when writing in your journal:

1. What do you want to write about (what's on your mind? What do you need to work through?)

2. What are your thoughts/ concerns regarding this?

3. What emotions come up?

4. What would different outcomes of this issue mean about you (e.g., feeling undeserving as a parent, feeling inadequate, feeling powerful, feeling on top of everything, feeling lost, feeling like a child, feeling lonely, feeling defeated, feeling happy and satisfied). Are these fair conclusions?

5. How does your childhood experience with your parents affect how you think today about this issue?

6. Why do these specific feelings come up? What interpretation are you giving to the situation that brings out this feeling?

7. What interpretation would be necessary so you can experience positive feelings?

Once you're done writing, re-read it. You'll usually have some insights on your thinking and about the validity of your thoughts. You may even feel satisfaction after the process based on the different perspective you gained.

Journaling tip:

Don't always follow the structure I’ve given. Unstructured journaling is valuable too. If you often follow the structure I gave you, you’ll have to stop and think about the answers. When you don't follow a structure your thoughts are free to flow.

Best Wishes to You and Your Family

Ivana Pejakovic, Life Coach in Toronto