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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