Do you keep a journal? Many people don’t because they would not know what to write or perhaps they don’t see the value of writing down their thoughts. Why bother taking the time to write when life is so complicated already? Maybe it’s time to take another look at just how much you will gain by this simple process. The very act of regular writing allows us to tap into ourselves, regain our sense of identity and regain power in our lives. Writing allows us to see ourselves in a new light and begins to answer the question “Who am I?” by noticing “What do I regularly think about?”

Journaling is the practice of regularly connecting with thoughts, feelings, frustrations, and real life experiences. It is a valuable and powerful means for personal growth and self discovery. Reflecting upon personal experiences, and our relationship to our thoughts, emotions and experiences, can help us uncover hidden strengths and passions.

Writing provides a way to put thoughts down on paper where they can be seen, read and reflected upon. A journal provides a place to express and explore innermost thoughts, feelings, ideas and concerns, and later return to reminisce or re-examine. It can be a place for to talk and be honest in a way that may be difficult under other circumstances. The practice of journal writing can allow us a safe place to get in touch with parts of ourselves normally hidden from view.

Journaling and Addictions
Many people turn to food to cover up a tugging of the soul. We become convinced that there is nothing really wrong. Just this thing with the food. If only our bodies were just right, then somehow everything else would be joyous and wonderful. We try diets, programs, and in the process release and regain countless pounds. Or we just stay in a place of numbed out nothingness, not knowing any other way to take care of ourselves. We condemn ourselves, filled with self-loathing at our bodies and our inability to get a grip on this food thing. We can sometimes spend our entire adulthood being angry at ourselves because of this food issue.

Keeping a personal journal can be a very effective tool in learning to make peace with food or other addictions. If you are the kind of person who habitually turns to undesired coping strategies, addiction, eating or food restriction in response to stress or emotions, you might start simply by reflecting on what seems to stress you. No need to give up the coping strategy just yet. Instead, become curious. Investigate.

1. A journal provides a safe avenue for anger.
Sometimes we find ourselves trapped in compulsive goodness, unable to speak what is real. We may encounter situations in which we have difficulty standing up for ourselves and respecting our inner truths and feelings. We may act compulsively good because we are unskilled at the practice of expressing effective, appropriate anger. A journal gives us a place to vent and to explore new possibilities for self-growth, worthiness and self-expression.

2. A journal relieves stress.
A personal journal is a marvelous tool for releasing emotions stuck in your body. In terms of spiritual growth, a journal can be a place where we explore our doubts, where we confront our perceived character defects, where we address resentments. A journal can help quiet a racing, out of control mind. It can calm emotions. Writing has the power to put things into perspective. We can focus thoughts, release anxiety, soothe ourselves and perhaps even prevent a major binge or other undesired coping strategy. Instead of immediately suppressing a wild mind or chaotic feelings, try sitting down first and expressing what is being felt at the moment: “I feel . . .”, “I need . . .”, I want . . .”

3. A journal affirms the reality of your life.
Learning to have compassion for self, without judgement, is a difficult task to undertake. Journaling aids in the journey toward loving self as it allows us the courage to acknowledge who we are, where we have been, and where we are going. This journey is about looking into the shadowy secrets deep within. It is about facing inner feelings about who we are. It means letting go of blame, and no longer agreeing to play victim. Writing allows an avenue to see self in a different way. We can confront the often less than empowering thoughts we hold about ourselves. We can “see” the self-critical thoughts are not motivating . . .will not create peace or happiness . . . and will not go away by themselves. Writing about life adds purpose, power and new direction.

4. A journal will help recover a lost sense of identity.
Using food or additions to cope with life separates you from yourself. Exploring with pen and paper allows a process to unfold of reconnecting with hidden aspects of ourselves. It helps us speak out, allowing ideas to become tangible words. It allows vague ideas to take shape in the safety of a journal. Writing is a power tool that allows what is often locked away inside to have access into the world. It allows us to feel into our physical body and connect with intuition, creativity and imagination. Writing allows the time to find precisely the right word or the most powerful image to express self. It takes fuzzy or confusing images and brings them into sharp focus.

5. A journal will clarify dreams.
For many of us, what is missing is a relationship with ourselves. We need time to get to know ourselves, time to nurture our spirits, and time to create. If we take the time to write a few thoughts each day, our ideas about what is important and meaningful will become much clearer. We will begin to discover what we really want in life.

Simple Journal Exercises

1. Start a journal in your daily organizer. At the end of each day write one word to describe your day. Then jot down one word of how you want the next day to be. At the end of month see the words you wrote and review your month!

2. Write while you wait. Get a small journal to keep in your briefcase/purse. This can be a place to keep a success list, write down an inspiring affirmation, or write down a goal. Use it when you find yourself waiting in line, waiting at a long stop light, or waiting for an appointment to begin.

3. Ask others to write something in your pocket journal. Hand it over to your friend at lunch and say, “Could you write something in my journal?” Or perhaps ask your significant other for some words. You may be surprised at the written words that come to support you, inspire you, and give you valuable information.

Positive Notes:

As I write and listen, I will come to know myself.

Writing leads me to my inner truth and love.

It is safe to open myself and explore my emotions,
thoughts, and feelings on paper.

Author's Bio: 

Helping people let go of self-destructive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors has been the life work of Dr. Annette Colby. Her fascination with the power of the mind, emotions, spirituality, and physicality has led her to become a leader in the field of personal growth and consciousness. She is a valued counselor, and an inspiring teacher, as well as an independent writer, mentor, and guide. She is a highly sought-after trainer with a unique ability to inform and inspire individuals to open their hearts, love more openly, and pursue their dreams.

Dr. Annette Colby, RD
Nutrition Therapist & Master Energy Therapist

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