How to Journal for Emotional Clarity
One of the best ways to gain understanding about your experience is by journaling or writing about your thoughts and feelings. Especially if you have emotions you are struggling with or confused about. Writing about them can help you understand them better.
You don’t have to be a “writer” to journal effectively. In fact, your writing skills don’t have to be good at all. Just the act of putting your thoughts into logical order and translating them to written form can help you to understand what you’re feeling, and why.
Here are some tips to help you use your journal for emotional growth:
- Keep it simple.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a fancy journal. I recommend using an inexpensive, lined notebook. This removes the need to be perfect with what and how you write. You won’t be afraid to cross out and make mistakes – whatever happens – just allow it to flow onto the paper.
- Don’t hold back.
When you journal for the purposes of emotional growth, don’t edit yourself, or make your writing understandable to anyone else. Lock your Inner Critic in the closet for the moment. This process works best when you just put your pen to paper and just write whatever comes out. No one else will see it unless you want them to.
- Focus on the feelings.
If you get stumped about what to write in your journal, begin with the phrase, “I feel…” or “I think…”. This will usually get your thoughts and feelings moving, and you will be able to express them with words.
- Use guided journaling or prompts
Another helpful technique is guided journaling, which means providing a prompt for yourself. If you’re struggling with something specific, you can sometimes get the words flowing more easily with a niggle in the right direction. Some example prompts would be, “What would your ideal relationship with ____ look like?” Or, “What is holding you back from making peace with this situation?”
- Go back and review your entries
Going back to look at your journal entries can be very enlightening and provide a lot of clarity. With time and practice, you will likely begin to see patterns in your thinking, behaviors, and beliefs. The most important thing is to keep an open mind while you read over your entries. Don’t let your Inner Meanie out to judge or belittle you. Keep the focus on the emotions and how you feel. Instead of beating yourself up over those thoughts and feelings, ask yourself, “How can I use this experience and this knowledge to change my situation and circumstances now?”
If you’re not a natural writer or have a thing for words, journaling may seem like too much effort, but it is worth it. Because I’ve always had a fondness for words, I began writing in a journal when I was young. Back then, it was mostly about cute boys and mean girls. But as I got older, I started focusing on what was going on inside me, instead of the events going on outside of me. That practice has paid off in amazing ways as I have learned more and more about myself.
You can also keep different kinds of journals. For example, you can start a gratitude journal to note the things you are grateful for each day, which will help you to feel more positive about your life. You can keep a spiritual growth journal to record prayers and meditations that are meaningful to or effective for you. You can keep a dream journal to explore the subconscious messages in your dreams. The possibilities are endless!
Finally, remember that you don’t have to follow any set rules with your journal. Do what works best for you, and enjoy the discovery.