Journaling: A Path to Self-Discovery

When you first set out on your self improvement journey it can feel like there is so much advice and tools to help you that you simply don’t know where to start.  To me there is a clear winner and that is journaling.  I believe in the incredible power of journaling to change our mindset, our point of view and our sense of self.  That’s a big statement, I know, but I really believe it.  I have used the power of journaling my thoughts since I was a teenager and it has the ability to help you get to the bottom of anything you may be going through in life.

Many years ago I was gifted a book called The Artists Way by Julia Cameron and this book really got me started in a big way in journaling.  It is an inspiring read, dedicated to the artist that is within all of us and it is designed to get those creative juices flowing.  There are many great ideas in this book, but for me the journaling stuck as the most effective tool for your self improvement journey.  In the book the author encourages a daily journaling practise that allows you to freely express yourself.  It’s all about starting the habit of both showing up for yourself and also expressing yourself.  It’s powerful stuff!


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This is the Real Deal

Journaling is not a new thing, it usually begins as a childhood ‘Dear Diary’, but it can evolve into an extension of ourselves, a bosom buddy of sorts.  It can be there for us when nobody else can.  It can store secrets and feelings too.  For me, though, the essence of the journal is the coming home to yourself.  And, it is this that gives journaling its power as a path to self-discovery.

For me journaling is the best way to start a self improvement journey because it helps to crack open that tough exterior and get through to the heart of who you are.  You can break down all walls and take down all masks with a journal.  You can discover things about yourself and help yourself grow, heal or mourn, whatever it is that you are needing in the moment.  A journal is a best friend and a keeper of secrets.  It will be by your side and never let you down.

What do you Write about?  Or, How do you get Started?

There are no rules in journaling, but to keep writing.  You will discover that there is magic in journaling.  That the words are drawn from somewhere inside you and out onto the pages.  You will discover that this life that we lead, this rushed and manic life, has created a monster that needs to be heard.  The funny thing is when the words hit the page more magic happens. Somehow you feel lighter, instantly.  You realize that all you ever needed was to listen to your self, to listen to your own truth.  And you find you feel freer because you have spoken your truth!

I know I sound a little overexcited.  That’s because I believe that writing down your feelings in a journal will help you work through anything that life throws at you.  I find that people often talk very casually about journaling like it’s a new hobby to consider or a fad that’s going around, but I think if we commit to it the benefits can be enormous.  This isn’t about ‘taking it seriously’.  In fact, the more you relax and enjoy the process the more you will get out of it. Try not to overthink, rather just to ‘over feel’!  And then purge all those feelings out onto the paper instead of bottling them up.

Emotional Detox

Journaling has been my go-to for any emotional turmoil I need to deal with.  For example, I can spill my guts out onto the page and, somehow, the purging process is like an emotional detox.  Almost every time I start my journaling in ‘rant’ mode and somehow, by the end, I have found my way back to a positive outlook on life.  All is well with the world.  Like I said, magic!

You may be thinking ‘I’m not a writer’ but this is for your eyes only and you cannot get it wrong.  My challenge to you is to just give it a try for 1 week, then see how you feel.  See if the writing stirs up any emotions such as fear or doubts.  These things are not easy to face, however.  Like all fears they can only be conquered when faced.

My recommendation would be that you pick out a notebook and a pen.  Also, make sure it is ready and waiting beside your bed the next time you wake up.  Before bed works too, but getting your head in the right place first thing in the morning is a definite win!  Such a fun way to get your emotions out on the page!  Ok, now, give yourself just 10min.  If you get carried away, great!  See what happens.  If you don’t know what to write, write about what happened the day before, even if it’s bad.  You will find that the process will help you work through it.  Remember, cheapest therapist in town!


Prompts to Start with

I’ve put together a list of thought-provoking journal prompts to get you going.  When starting out with how to start your journaling for self improvement journey, these questions can be truly revealing.  Take a look and give it a go.  To make it easier I’ve kept the list short.  That way you can think them over clearly and really sort through them in your mind.  Also, let me know in the comments below how you found the journaling process.

Here goes:

1.  What Inspires me? List your top 5.

2. Who do I cherish in my life and why?

3. Does fear hold me back from doing something I’ve always wanted to do?

4. Am I kind to my body?

5. What kind of future do I want for myself?

6. What can I do today that will help me grow?

7. Do I hold on to past ideas of who I am or what I am capable of?

8. What does my perfect life look like?

9. What will make me feel more fulfilled?

10. What lessons can I learn from my past?

11. Do the people in my life help me grow?

12. Can I make a difference in the world?

13. Who do I owe a thank you to in my life, what for?

14. Do I feed myself emotionally?

15. What goals can I set to begin my new life?

Don’t be Put Off!

These questions can be quite confronting.  If they are, work through them, they need to be resolved.  For instance, this is where you will understand the power of journaling for self improvement.  Working through them in your mind will give you an opportunity to open up to yourself and work through what is troubling you.

When you read a question that makes you feel uncomfortable, that is when you know you have found one that needs to be worked through in your journal.  We tend to avoid emotions that make us feel uncomfortable, trust me this is the best way to work through them.  There is no explaining your emotions or thought processes to anyone else, no feeling uncomfortable.  It’s just you, and the more you give yourself time to heal the easier it will become.

Before I go, I want to share an excerpt from my own journal.  It is a personal look at how the process unfolds for me and I hope it will help you understand how cathartic the experience is:

‘If someone were to ask me what I believe my God given talents are I would say without a shadow of a doubt writing.  This is when the doubt begins to creep in and I start to question myself.  If I’m meant to be a writer why don’t I write much, much more than I do?  And why have I set aside my writing for so many long and painful years?  I question whether I was meant to be a photographer because this is something that I love so much as well.

In my heart, though, I know that there is nothing quite like the feeling of the words flowing onto paper.  There is something in the experience that lets me know that it is being channeled through me.  It is an amazing feeling, a feeling of knowing and trust.

I have put this wonderful feeling aside for many reasons.  Fear, uncertainty, doubt, self-deprecation.  There is a terrible fear of committing to something that you love only to realize that you aren’t good enough.  Why would anyone risk a life of questioning and emptiness in favour of playing it safe?

Within myself there is a terrible longing to honour my true nature.  I believe if I can just get past this initial hurdle, push on through and achieve this life blood goal, I will start to believe in myself. ‘

Thank You for Stepping into this World of Words with Me

I hope this helps you to understand how to start your journaling for self improvement journey, and how healing it can be.  Somehow, when you start, the words flow.  It is difficult to explain but in a way it feels like the emotions are desperate to get out and they are grateful for the opportunity to seep out onto the pages of your journal.  I urge you to try journaling if you haven’t before.  It might not be for everyone but for me it is a healing process and I encourage anyone to give it a try!

Now, dive right in and enjoy the process!

Steph x

He who has overcome his fears will truly be free – Aristotle

If you enjoyed this blog on journaling for self improvement why not check out Why You Should Start Your Future Self Journaling Routine

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