You don’t have to be a good writer to enjoy journaling.
There are many ways to write a journal. The word derives from the French word Jour – day, and is a daily record of your thoughts, feelings and experiences, similar but different from a diary. A journal is very individual and private. Journals can be shared as in student journals and reflective practise journals, but in this article I am looking at personal life journals that are useful to give you an overview of your life, to express yourself and to find your own way of coping and improving your self esteem.
My Experience of journal writing
I wrote a 5 year diary from the age of 15 to 20, dwindling entries the older I grew! Looking back at it now is fascinating and gives me insight into how I was many years ago. Even in this I can see themes, values and indicators of how I made decisions. For many years I continued to write diaries, often only when in distress or when there was a huge momentous experience. I found it helpful to write short notes and these have proved so useful in understanding myself later in life. At the time the journal offered me a means of expression, to off load the harsh or strong emotions. Reading later on it gives me so much more than I ever dreamed of: a snapshot of events, people, communications that were important, that helped to create the person I am now.
Writing a journal helps you to know yourself. It allows the unconscious to surface and be heard privately. This is a release and can be a freeing and spiritual experience.
Start with your life story!
When working with clients I ask them to buy a beautiful book as a journal. Something they love and relate to as it will accompany them on their journey. I suggest they think about their life in roughly 5 year chunks and write down the significant events, highs and lows briefly (without analysing too much), who influenced them, who they loved/disliked, what was happening, the peak moments, where they lived/went to school/uni/work etc. A general view.
This takes some time and there is no rush. There is no need to be a brilliant writer – just jot down words, phrases, there is no need to be perfect here! You can embellish the story with photos and mementos too if you like!
If you can’t remember, then if you feel happy to, ask friends or relatives about things, it all helps in connecting and remembering. When working as an Occupational Therapist with older clients I spent hours creating Life Stories for patients with Alzheimers or Dementia with the help of their families. These were so precious in honouring the person within and helping care staff to respect and understand them.
Journals are great for just about anything you have on your mind. Use them as a depository to dump the thoughts and ideas, jot notes and lists. Answers to questions or questions to find answers to. I have a list of questions if people are stuck for ideas such as:
What am I most grateful for?
What were the 5 happiest moments in my life?
What was my saddest moment?
Who is really important to me?
What is my secret dream?
If I had all the money, time and energy I need what would I do?
There are 100’s of questions to get you flowing.
Make Space in your life for writing your journal
Create a regular time to write in your journal. It may be daily at bedtime or weekly on Thursday evening – find a way that fits well for you. In times of stress journal writing can be a fantastic relief and will help you focus and clarify where to channel your energy.
7 reasons to write a journal:
- It gives you an overview of your whole life
- You can see the highs and lows without analysing
- You understand how you make decisions and what influences you
- You can recognise your role models, inspirations and influences
- It helps you understand what you value, love and need in life
- It helps you to understand what you do not want in life
- It helps to give you clarity, focus and direction.
Alongside journal writing creating a visual representation of your dreams and goals is wonderful. My next article will be on the benefits of creating a Dream Board (Vision board/Treasure Map).
If you would like to work on improving your self esteem I offer an individual course as part of my life coaching sessions in person or over the telephone. This course has helped many people find out who they really are, accept themselves and feel comfortable in their own skin. For a free 15 minute discussion just call me on 01803 847674 or 07779496240