Journaling: A Path to Self-Discovery
Journaling: A Path to Self-Discovery
When you consider how to start on your self improvement journey I recommend starting with 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.
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.
The book isn’t only about the benefits of journaling. She also talks about other ways to connect to ourselves, like what she calls ‘Artist Dates’. That is where you take time out with yourself to explore something that inspires you, like an art gallery or an indie movie for example. But, for me, the journaling stuck.
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. This is how 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. A journal is a best friend and a keeper of secrets.
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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 page. 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. Finally you can cancel your appointment with the psychiatrist 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.
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, in 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! If you’re looking for a really fun way to express yourself I highly recommend the Wreck This Journal. 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 its bad. You will find that the process will help you work through it. Remember, cheapest therapist in town!
I’ve put together a list of thought-provoking journal prompts to get you going. When starting out with how to start your 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.
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?
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 as a path to self-discovery. 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 a self improvement journey with the use of journaling, 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!
He who has overcome his fears will truly be free – Aristotle
Ps. If you are looking for some journaling inspiration take a look at my recommended journals HERE
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Love this. I’ve always known journaling is great but you really ramp up the urgency. Love it.
Thank you so much! I really do believe there is power in journaling. I hope you will join me in my 5 Day challenge.
Journaling is so freeing! I don’t do it as often or I tend to use my blog as my journal. But I agree with the benefits you listed for sure. And those writing prompts are so good and very thought-provoking. Overall a great post for those considering journaling!
Thanks Annalise, I agree with you about the blog serving as a journal! Such a great way to express yourself.
I have always wanted to journal consistently, this gets me excited to try again (for the millionth time lol)
Thanks for the comment Maggie! I honestly believe that if there is anything that needs to be resolved it can be through journaling!
I have been wanting to get back into journaling as writing helps my anxiety. I used to do it all the time as a kid, so I definitely should get back into it.
I really believe in the power of journaling to help us through all of life’s stresses.
This is relatable in every way! I find writing a way to express inner traumas and battles and actually resolving them. It also helps express emotions and feelings with others when verbal words fail. Great post!
Thanks for your comment, Sunrita! I agree 100% with you, journaling helps work through anything that is troubling us!
After reading this I so need to start a journal. Great post, very inspiring
I know I need to journal more, it’s a habit I have fallen out of lately. Thank you for the prompts, I’m hoping it will help me get back into it ?
It’s my pleasure! I’d love to hear how you go with the process. Enjoy!
I am very interested in trying journaling for the fist time in my life.looking forward to it
I would love to hear how you get along!
Lovely post, very honest. Thank you ❤️
I have a love/hate relationship with journaling. Sometimes it feels too much like a chore. But then I remind myself that that it does not need to be. I don’t need to show it to anyone.
Absolutely Vic! That is where the power comes in, it is for your eyes only and that can be so freeing.
I wanted to be a journalist, I wanted to study for that and I’m sorry I didn’t, but I try every day to do my best to be a better writer / journalist for my blog!
That love of writing will always stay with you! ❤️
I love having a fresh new notebook to journal in. It’s a great place to write down your thoughts, fears, and goals. If it seems hard to start, just start by writing three things you are thankful for each day.
That’s a great place to start!
I always wonder when I am gone… who will find my journals, and what they will think about what is in the pages. This does not stop me from being truthful inside because I feel like it would be my voice after I would be gone. The keeper of truth and secrets.
I love the idea of leaving behind a piece of my true self. Thanks for your comment Jen!
Wow, the power of journalising. Thanks for sharing this amazing post.
Thanks Puja, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
I love journalling. I set aside ten minutes a day to just free write. I usually start with a topic but by the end of the ten minutes, another topic is involved! I learnt this from a high school English teacher and tried it with my students as well. It’s amazing how good one can feel afterwards.
Thanks for your comment, Rebekka. You’ve described exactly how the process has a way of working through your pain points, so therapeutic!
These are awesome tips! There’s never been a better time for journaling.
Thank you for shedding light on journaling. I used to journal when I was younger and it really helped me reflect on my actions and the actions of those around me. Helped me grow as a person because I became self conscious of what I was doing more.
Thanks for your comment Bibi. I agree, it has so much power to help us grow.
Journaling has helped me work things out in my life so much. Thanks for this post!
You’re welcome Taylor, journaling is so great isn’t it!
Thank you for this, we need all the self help tips and guides we can get, tough times.
You are welcome, I’m glad you find it helpful!
I love to journal! I even have a post on my website just on that. Thanks for sharing. Love your site too!
Thank you, so glad you like it!
Great post! Journaling is indeed so powerful and reflective. We use the GLAD journaling nightly but just writing free flowing would be so amazing and helpful
There is nothing quite like it for freeing your heart and mind! Thanks for reading!
I am so glad I stumbled upon your lovely blog. Great post, keep it up. Thanks for sharing. xoxo Meg | Chasingcultures.com
Awww, thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Love this. I love to journal. I will use some of your prompts 🙂
That’s awesome, Kristin, thanks for the feedback!
Journaling is an amazing tool and always helps me get my thoughts in order!
I agree, it really is such a beneficial tool! Thanks for reading, Zi!
Great Article! I agree that journaling will help you to discover yourself as you are also practising self-awareness.
Absolutely! It is exactly that, becoming self aware helps you to uncover your authentic self. Thanks for the comment, Mark!
Love this post! I started journaling 3 years ago and now see my journal as a best friend. It’s been there for me in good times and bad. I tend to write on an evening and always note down 3 good things that happened each day. Sometimes I have a rant as well but always end on the 3 good things. I also enjoy looking back and reflecting. It’s interesting to find the patterns and also that often things I was stressing about turned out OK in the end.
Thanks for sharing this post and the excerpt from your journal too.
Thanks for reading, Alison! I have the same process with my journal, quite often I start out ranting but the process is so therapeutic that it helps me clear out the negative thoughts and I always end on a positive note! 🙂