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.
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