Journaling as Therapy

Journaling is the process of writing about one’s life events and feelings. It’s a widely recommended self-help tool. And it costs nothing except a little time from your busy day.

There’s something magical that happens when you put pen to paper. A link is established between your hand and your brain. Thoughts that had been trapped deep inside your subconsciousness come spilling forth. And when they are written down, these thoughts, fears, and even great ideas can truly make a difference in the quality of our daily lives.

Personally, I’ve found that the process of writing in a journal to be highly therapeutic . It amazes me that when I write something down, I am forced to think about what I want to say … and that thought process brings forth many things that I might not have otherwise considered. And because the journal is private (like a diary) I’ve been able to reflect on my deepest feelings and fears.

A side-benefit of keeping a journal is that you will soon have a transcript of your life. I often look back at my own journals from when Melissa was young and it reminds me of the challenges that we faced—both medically as well as emotionally. I can read about those days long ago when I thought things might never improve … wondering how I would ever survive the challenge. I can also recall my fears for her life and can now see how my own fears caused me to “awfulize” about her medical condition … imagining that it was worse than it really was.

If you and your spouse are “communication-challenged” then journaling can be a great tool to help you express your inner-most feelings … words that you couldn’t otherwise speak. If you share your journal with your partner, your parents, or your best friend, you’ll be surprised how easy it becomes to talk. Your journal becomes a conversation-starter.

I don’t think there is a “right” or “wrong” way to journal. The process used will be as unique as the person who does it. It will be challenging at first, but if you stick with it, you’ll soon find your groove.

Here’s some tips that might help you get started.

Forget the Computer – Write in a Book. This might seem strange advice from a blogger to an audience reading on a computer … but I find that there is something special that happens with the written word. So get a spiral-bond notebook, a pen, write the date at the top of the first stage and you’re on your way.

Pick a Time and Place. We’re all creatures of habit. Find an ideal time when you can devote 15-20 minutes to journaling. It might be while having your morning cup of coffee; or just after you put the kids to bed; or maybe before you go to sleep. Getting into a routine will help you focus and keep going. You might even look forward to that time each day!

Keep Reminders. When you sit down to write, remembering topics to cover will often be a challenge. Just get a little  notebook and write down words that will help you remember the situation. That’s what I do for this blog. And that’s how I came up with today’s topic.

Don’t Quit if You Miss a Day or Two. There is no rule that you have to journal every day. If you miss a day, so what? This is for you … so do it as often as you can.

Read Your Last Entry Before Writing the Next. I’ve found that re-reading what I previously wrote helps get me“in the mood” to write. It can also help you reflect on what’s happened since then. Have things improved? Gotten worse? Starting where you left off also helps create a continuum of thought, even if it has been weeks since journal entries.

Go Deep—Don’t Hold Back. The journal is for you, so don’t hold back. Don’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings. Just let go and tell it like it is.

Keeping a journal can be an eye-opening experience. It can also become a family heirloom. So pick up a pen and start writing.



2 Responses to Journaling as Therapy