Journal Writing – Voyage to Self-Discovery

One of the easiest and most powerful ways to self-knowledge is through journaling. Journaling is the practice of keeping a diary or journal that explores your innermost thoughts and feelings about life events. Journaling is a good problem-solving tool. For many people, problems are easier to see when they are written down.Journaling also provides clarity and helps track progress. A great time to turn to your journal is when you’re just not clear about what to do. Things tend to become much clearer when you explore them in writing. When you’re frustrated that your life doesn’t seem to be working out as you’d like, go back and read your journal. This will remind you that, although it feels like you’re running in place, you are in fact growing and changing.To get the most out of your journaling experience, do not focus simply on what happened during the day. Use your journal to look inward at how you are affected by your daily struggles. Your journal will give you a place to express your joy, pain, frustration, and fear. As children’s author Anne Broyles notes, journaling, “…frees us to explore the rooms hidden in our hearts, making meaning of our lives… and (of) how God is at work in all aspects of our lives.”

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Journaling is meant to be a gratifying experience and an effective tool for emotional and spiritual growth.Principles of Effective Journaling
1. Be spontaneous and refrain from self-judgment. Write quickly and be honest about what you really feel, want, and believe.
2. Write deeply about what is most important to you and explore the larger context. What you write is not meant to be objective truth. It is simply your way of looking at the moment and working toward understanding it in a larger context.
3. Don’t worry about your grammar or spelling. Your journal is for your eyes only unless you choose to share.
4. Express your emotions and how you feel physically. Journaling can sometimes bring tears. Let them fall.
5. Write farewells to people, places, things, and activities that are no longer part of your life. This is part of the healing process.Journal Starters
1. My biggest struggle right now is…
2. The thing I most fear is…
3. The thing that keeps me from moving on is…
4. I smelled a smell, saw a sight, or heard a song today that reminded me of…
5. Part of the past that keeps haunting me is…Testimonial
I suffered from an emotional wound that took 15 years to heal. My best friend from elementary school, Shelby, and I did everything together and in high school, we joined the yearbook staff together. We critiqued each other’s work, attended workshops together, and filled in when the other was out. I, and the rest of the yearbook staff, was certain that Shelby and I would be named co-editors for the next year, our senior year. The last week of school is generally torturous because students are eager to start vacation, but it was even more agonizing as I waited to learn who would be named editor for the upcoming year.With bated breath, I waited for the yearbook advisor to announce that Shelby and I would be co-editors. The announcement never came. Instead, without ever making eye contact, the advisor pronounced that Shelby alone would be editor. My emotions were a murky mess. I was hurt, sad, angry, disappointed, and confused. I spoke to the advisor after class and she said my writing skills were lacking. This threw me for a loop considering that I had been a staff writer for two years and had only received compliments. I ended my friendship with Shelby after I learned that she had slandered my reputation to the advisor in order to become editor and I stopped writing.

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This bad experience haunted me for 15 years. After journaling, I realized that I was angry, not because I wasn’t named editor, but because someone I had trusted had deceived me. Journaling about this hurtful experience helped me to explore and release the emotions involved. Through journaling, I was able to forgive Shelby and my former advisor. By this forgiveness, I was also able to heal myself and restore my passion for writing.To quote speaker/educator Christina Baldwin, “Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.”

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