One simple change is all it took. For years, I thought journaling had to follow a specified plan.
There’s the “dear diary” approach. Blech!
Then there’s the “recount your day” approach. Routine and <yawn> boring.
In developing this discipline, I discovered I don’t do formulas.
But, I never knew that journaling would affect the change in my life that it has.
I need variety, spontaneity. If you’ve struggled to journal consistently, maybe you’re the same way.
Here’s what I discovered about personal journaling: You don’t have to follow the same path each day or time.
explore troubling questions,
celebrate (I need to do this more),
vent frustrations and fears,
and process life in a healthy manner.
Six options you can apply to your journaling:
Ever have some crazy idea niggling in your mind that distracts you? It feels like unconnected pieces drifting through your subconscious until you jot those pieces down. The physical act of writing these unconnected ideas down helps free up space in my brain to focus on something else.
There’ve been times when working on something else, one of those random thoughts comes back to mind. That’s how I process through the content for my books, Choosing A Way Out and 5 Lies Moms Believe. Random thoughts I jotted down in my journal became part of the content. While writing, I find my journal, go back to that thought, and suddenly it makes sense with the current project. That’s the beauty of capturing these random thoughts.
Ugh! Do you have as many of these as I do? Some nights, these questions loudly force their way into my conscious mind. When that happens, even at 2:00 a.m., I must write them down, or I can’t sleep. The process of writing them out calms my mind. It’s like they become concrete when I can see them in front of me—even with blurry, sleepy eyes.
I’ve learned to try not to figure out the answers to these questions, but to allow my mind to ruminate on them, to look at them from various angles. Pay attention to where your mind takes you. Beth (not her real name), one of my clients, told me that the questions she jotted in her journal during our coaching session allowed her to look at her concern from a different angle.
Listen to people talking about any subject. How many different points of view do you hear? Often, what you may initially perceive as a problem when approached from another side looks like an opportunity or a challenge.
I’m slow to record celebrations, especially if the spotlight points my way. Why is that? I love to celebrate others!
Often when I record a personal win, I have to explore why I’m reluctant to capture that moment. That process opens up self-evaluation, growth, and introspection.
I learn more about who I am and what I believe in those moments. Have I learned to accept myself as I am? Or, do I seek to be someone else?
Why am I afraid to celebrate accomplishments? What about that feels wrong or self-serving? (That’s something I can journal about for several days.)
I love recording these—births, graduations, first steps, the first day of school, others’ accomplishments, special moments with the family, and times with Dave I don’t want to forget.
But milestones can also be difficult moments, like when Mom died, or our grandchild suffered a severe injury. Each time I record my thoughts, emotions, and outcomes of these milestones, my heart expands. I learn to celebrate life’s moments, to capture them as best I can. Reviewing these entries brings tears and joy. I feel anchored somehow.
I struggle with prayer. Yes, I know it’s a conversation with God. Yet when I close my eyes and think my prayers, my mind wanders. Can you relate?
One way I’ve developed my communication with God, the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is by writing out my prayers. Often, in this process, I find myself overcome with gratitude for all God does for me every day. I look out the window or around and find reasons to praise Him for His work, grace, love, peace, and provision in my life. These moments enrich my spirit like nothing else.
When journaling my prayers, I can jot down my thoughts about a Bible passage I read that day. Examine it, ask questions about it, and process through that passage. Other scripture passages often come to mind that I’ll jot down, too. When I’m in this journaling mode, I feel refreshed when I finish. I know I’ve had communion with the One who created me and knew me like no other.
Perhaps one of the most meaningful journaling practices for me is writing out the issue that has me concerned or beaten down. It’s not unusual for me to feel the emotion’s weight to the point that I find my journal, sit in my favorite chair, and write furiously. Those are the times where my mind races ahead of my hand. My handwriting may not be legible or even make sense. Words drop off as others tumble over them. I might sketch or draw in an attempt to capture the emotions.
As I get the struggle written out, my handwriting changes from furious scribbles to more coherent letters. I’ve learned to keep writing until I feel calm. I may not solve the issue, but I’ve worked through the struggle to the point I can be rational and process it intellectually. The answer or path through the obstacle becomes clearer as the emotions evaporate. Sometimes the process invites me to bring this struggle to my coach because I need to resolve it with another person.
Journaling is only one part of the Aftershock Recovery Coaching program. But it is an important one.
Often my clients find progress on those pages that they wouldn’t believe otherwise. But through their efforts, healing, and peace find their way onto the page. And their successes—small and large—smile up at them. Some pages are ugly, tear-stained, and private. That’s just fine. That’s wonderful. It’s all a part of the process. A process forward. No one is sentenced to live in pain forever. Often we forget how to live without that pain—that we have a choice not to stay there.
Do you journal? What do you discover from this discipline? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I help wounded wives heal through free resources, a tender heart, and one-on-one help. Through short-term Aftershock Recovery Coaching or just one-on-one sessions, you can share and learn practical steps forward. You deserve to heal whether the one who hurt you decides to change or not. You don’t have to live with that pain. I can help.