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.
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