The Most Important Activity for a Mindful and Happy Life
Journaling gives us an opportunity to vent:
No other activity gives you all of the space and time to completely express your internal monologue as often as you'd like. Journaling welcomes you, giving you page after page to express thoughts you've kept bottled up for years. How often have you stopped yourself from saying things that felt true to you because it was the wrong time, wrong place, or because things just felt inappropriate? In life we’ve been trained to censor ourselves, but in journaling we get to be 100% ourselves. We get to see ourselves unapologetically. Journaling gives us the opportunity to work through those moments and thoughts we cut ourselves off from - a chance to fully express our thoughts, and work through past situations in a way that feels liberating. Want to know the best part about venting to your journal? No one has to know about what you’ve written unless you want them to!
Journaling lets us completely express our thoughts.
When we vent with another person, there’s often a time limit, a disclaimer, or something that stops you from fully expressing yourself. Have you ever tried to vent to another person and walked away feeling more frustrated or confused than when you started the conversation? With journaling, you don’t have to battle with another person’s expectations and opinions. This is great because sometimes a situation or an emotion might be too new or too raw for us to talk about. Start with a journal instead! When writing, you don't have to stop after a couple of minutes, and you won’t be interrupted by an opinionated friend. Get it all out! Use 5 pages, 10 pages or more if you need it! No one is going to get bored with your story or try to change the subject on you. And if you happen to get bored with your own story while you're writing, that's definitely something to pay attention to! How we feel when writing gives us a message about our level of healing and emotional attachment to our subject. For example, if we’re bored when journaling maybe we’ve moved on from the situation emotionally. If we can’t seem to get anything on the page, maybe we’re resisting or blocking out some emotions that have become difficult to feel. If we pay attention to these cues, we can begin writing our way through them. Journal about why you’re feeling silent or why you think you’re bored with the story you’re telling. You might discover you’ve made a breakthrough!
Journaling gives us the ultimate no judgment zone.
Some people keep their thoughts and emotions inside when they're afraid that other people will judge them. They don't want someone to critique their idea, to disagree with them, to think they're stupid, to get upset... and so they say nothing! They shut down the unique part of their mind that makes them special and whole and interesting so that they can keep other people's judgments away. This approach can backfire on multiple levels. If people want to judge, they're going to judge no matter what you do or don't say. They'll find something to talk about! And when you keep yourself quiet in order to please or control other people - your personality muscle atrophies. You lose touch with who you are and what you really feel. And then when it's actually time for you to express yourself in a relationship, a job, a speech... any time you're called to communicate it's really difficult to do it! Because you've lost practice. You've drowned your voice in the needs of other people. Journaling helps you practice getting out of that habit in a safe, judgment free space. You can answer the deepest, most revealing questions because your journal is only yours! There's no immediate response to anything you've written. Your thoughts, your words stay there for you to reflect on whenever you choose to.
When we journal we have the ability to revise and edit.
When (or if) you do choose to revise your journal entry, you get to do it on your terms. No one else gets to decide what your words mean. No one else has the power to alter your understanding. When you journal, you have the opportunity to keep everything completely honest and raw. You might be writing under a really strong emotional current, but if you return to your entry a little later to get a second look at your experience and your feelings about it, you'll be able to see things with a fresh perspective. Taking some time away from your emotionally charged thoughts, and returning to look at it with a calm mind can help you adjust your feelings about whatever happened. You can even write down your new perspective, new disagreements with yourself or your overall reactions in the margins! This helps you keep a strong self assessment - you'll always be able to call yourself out or give yourself some extra TLC.
Journaling helps us keep track of patterns.
Have you ever had that feeling of not knowing what day it is or how many days have passed since the last time you went on a date? Had pizza? Saw your favorite pair of pajamas? Our days can become muddled and fade into one another if we're stuck in the same pattern for too long. Often times we don't even realize it has happened until it's too late. Journaling helps us keep track of our patterns. When we call attention to something - our daily routine, our feelings about our experiences, our plans for the future... we get to see our habits right in front of us. Becoming aware of what we do and why we do it is the first step toward being able to make progressive changes.
When we write, we observe and capture our thoughts in a concrete way.
If you have one of those minds that continuously expand, think, and analyze (like I do) you know that it can be challenging to get your mind to quiet down and take a break. Sometimes our thoughts can rattle on for hours at a time, hindering our ability to focus or progress as much as we'd like to. But when we journal, we give our minds the space to think through those thoughts instead of jumping from one to another at the speed of lightening. Writing forces us to slow down, to think bout each word, to consider why we're saying certain things... and this can help us pause the chattering mind and give it a concrete task to handle.
Journaling allows us to explore parts of ourselves that we never thought possible.
The best thing about guided journaling is that it gives you a place to begin. It gives you a theme to focus on - themes that you might not have thought of on your own. In an empty journal it might be easy and simple to write down a play by play of your day each night before bed... not really pushing yourself to delve deeply into your thoughts, feelings, or emotions about those experiences. But when your journaling practice is guided by themes and prompts, you get to explore parts of yourself you didn't even know existed. Guided journals are perfect for people who don't know what to say when they're journaling or for people who feel like they've already said it all. It's like having a conversation with your best friend - except the focus is all on you.
Journaling empowers us to take authority over our lives.
When you eliminate all other voices and actually give yourself space to tell YOUR unaltered truth, you become empowered. You word is all that matters in your journal. No one else can occupy the pages in front of you. Practicing this daily gives you the opportunity to voice your opinion about your life. The more you practice this in your journal, the more you’ll be able to become an authority in your daily life.
Journaling builds confidence.
Once you accept the opportunity to take control over your thoughts, actions, and interpretations of your life - you really get to know yourself. You've studied yourself. You've investigated yourself. You know your habits, your preferences, and your biggest fears. You know your patterns of thought, and you know how to break them. When you know yourself from every angle, there’s absolutely nothing that can bring you down. Your confidence will shine once you know and love yourself - and journaling is a great way to get there.
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