How to Start a Journaling Practice: Uncovering Emotions and Discovering What You Really Want
Today’s post is all about how to journal during those times when you want to do absolutely anything other than write.
A lot of people who are hesitant to try journaling say it’s because they’re not writers. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be a “writer” in any traditional sense in order to benefit from the healing, powerful process of journaling.
You can journal right now, as you are, in whatever clothes you’re wearing, no matter how you’re feeling. You can put your thoughts on paper. It is possible. And if you let it, it’s also freeing.
If you want to get your own Self-Care Journal designed to help you uncover your desires, speak your truth, and love yourself, click here.
You don’t have to think your writing is “good” or “bad.” You don’t even have to read your entry after you write it down. All you need to do is show up. Promise yourself that you will create time and space to empty your mind, process your thoughts, and take a moment to think about how YOU really feel.
We’re conditioned to put everyone else before ourselves. We’re told that this is the best way to live. That anyone who values themselves before others is selfish and mean… We think that if we stop putting others first our whole world will fall apart. This is not always the case. What is true about putting yourself first is that you learn to give yourself the love you seek from others.
Putting yourself first does not mean that you must leave everyone else behind. It does not mean that you don’t love and value the important people in your life. It simply means that you love yourself, too!
When you take the time to value your feelings, relying on other people to give you confidence or needing other people to tell you you’ve done a good job becomes less of a prerequisite for knowing your worth.
But how do we get to this place if we’re hesitant to give a voice to our emotions? We learn to say what we’re feeling - if not out loud, then at least on paper.
And if you’re afraid of writing, or if you don’t know where to begin… I have the perfect technique for you: The Free Writing Technique.
There are two simple steps to the free writing process.
1. Focus on your feelings.
Even though we’re writing, the words you put on the page matter less than your emotions. Writing is a way for you to capture the emotions before they flutter away, or get hidden by all of the other stuff we have floating around in our minds.
I think of it this way: how many times have you had a conversation when you bounce from topic to topic, and ultimately forget what you were going to say next? This is what happens in our daily lives. We move from task to task, event to event, shifting who we are to fit the current expectation… Ultimately ignoring how we feel about our experiences because we’re so busy being professional or presentable.
Journaling brings us back to ourselves. We give a voice to the thoughts we pushed away all day long. We give our inner being time to decompress and release the things she’s been holding back. We come back to the only conversation that really matters - the one where we can hear our hearts.
The first step to accessing what’s inside is to focus on how we’re feeling. Our bodies tell us. Our palms sweat, our eyebrows furrow, our hearts race, knees quiver, jaws clench, we get dizzy, we overheat, we get butterflies in our stomachs and tingly feelings in our toes. If you don’t have words yet, start there. Start with your feelings. Start with your body. It will tell you everything you need to know.
After you start with your body, you can link those physical reactions to the emotions and feelings you associate with them. Then, you can link those emotions to the situation you were in (or expected to be in) when you felt that way. All of a sudden, you’re crafting a narrative of the heart - opening yourself up to the truth you’ve held within for so long.
2. Don’t stop writing.
Sometimes, we get started with a journal entry, but our minds get in the way. It stops us from putting the words on the page and fills our brains with doubt. We ask ourselves “Does my sentence make sense?” We wonder, “Am I saying the right thing?” We think we’ve run out of things to say. We might even begin to get bored, and want to put our journals away for good…
And when you get to that point, where you don’t even know if writing is helping anymore… you know you must keep going. Your breakthrough is right around the corner. You’ve experienced a shift in your thought process, one that says you’ve said it all already.
At this point, I recommend asking yourself the question that has changed my life on so many levels: WHY?
Why does this experience matter to me?
Why do I want to stop writing right now?
Why do I feel bored?
If it because I’m bored with my experiences?
Why am I focused on the writing instead of what I’m getting out of purging my emotions?
When we investigate our feelings and give them space to exist in their entirety instead of shutting them down, we often times find the source of our frustration or hesitation. We find what has been hiding underneath our actions. We find our truth.
Continue the work. Keep your pen moving. Don’t worry about sentences or grammar. Don’t worry about capitalization or paragraphs. Write. Feel. Don’t stop writing until your timer goes off, or until you feel a release in your emotions. Check in with your body. You’ll feel your jaw relax. Your shoulders will drop. You head will lean to the side. Your core will relax. You’ll know it when you feel it. Trust your body. Trust yourself.
When you are in flow with these two steps, there seems to be no separation between your heart, your mind, and the pen. They all become one entity - producing a mirror image of your internal state. Block out anything other than your own voice, your intuition, your inner knowing. Focus completely on how you’re feeling - and record that feeling as it fills your body.
Give yourself the time and unconditional attention you’ve always wanted from other people. You already have the answers you’re seeking.
Get out your pens. Print our your journal pages. Start listening to your emotions.
Want to know more about what journaling can do for you?
Curious about how writing things down can become a powerful self-care activity in your life?
Check out the video below to learn the 5 biggest benefits of journaling for self-love!