Why Journaling Daily leads to a Deeper Understanding of Self

If you’re thinking ‘I already know myself’, I would like to suggest that we can ALL get to know ourselves on a deeper level through the practise of journaling daily.  It goes without saying that understanding ourselves on a deeper level gives us the knowledge to live a more well rounded and happy life.  Plus, journaling is free, so you have nothing to lose by trying it out.

Journaling has taken on many forms lately, some of which include gratitude journals, manifestation journals and mindfulness journals.  These are all great, but for now I don’t want to focus on anything so specific.  Rather I’d like to talk about journaling in its basic form.  The ‘free form’ journal.

Invite your Journal to be your Bestie

For me, the best way to journal is when you are treating your journal like your best friend.  A friend that would rather die than give up your secrets.  This absolute confidence is where the beauty lies in journaling daily because there are no holds barred.  Anything goes!  We are talking about absolute trust.  Think of your journal as the only friend you can trust more than yourself!

This is so liberating to know because, in a world where we often feel like no one ‘gets us’, this is your opportunity to purge every unspoken word, every unspoken emotion.  What more could you ask for of a best friend?  She will listen intently, take notes and never utter a word of it to anybody.  Perfect.  Plus, she will help you process every thought and emotion as you go through your journaling daily.  This means no judgement when you are angry at your boss for giving you a hard time or when you feel like a bad mother for shouting at your kids.  All of this and more can be poured out onto the page.  No judgement and no questions, just love and acceptance.

An Updated Version of an Old Friend?

Let’s go back to the days of the ‘dear diary’.  When only your diary cared if Charlie spilled his drink on your homework at school or your latest crush brushed passed you in the corridor.

The diary was the perfect solution to a tormented teenage soul.  So very mature of our young minds to express our emotions through those pages, don’t you think?  Rather than bottling them up.  We didn’t have to risk harsh words, laughter or even worse, exposure!  But, we did receive the shoulder to cry on and the feedback from our ‘dear diary’ ie. our inner psyche.

The diary has been a girl’s best friend for years, and all that’s changed is we stuck an adult label on it and called it a journal.  It serves the same purpose, with the exception that a little bit of adulting effort means we can dig deeper than a diary ever could.  Plus, the wisdom that comes with age helps a bit.  Now we know its power, we can use it to reach in and pull out those secrets that we’ve been keeping, sometimes even from ourselves.

Journaling in its Purest Free Flow Format

My favourite method is Free Flow!  The best way to get the most out of journaling daily is to just go for it.  The real power behind the journal is the liberation you get from being able to speak your mind.  For me free flow journaling produces way more rewards than any structured method, but try them all before you decide which works for you!

Why do I prefer free flow?  Because instead of reacting to a prompt or a list you are unlocking what’s inside you and letting it speak freely.  Again, I am pro ANY type of journaling, I just personally find free flow to be the best way to connect to your soul.  We’re all different though and respond differently to different methods.

So, if you’re keen on the free flow option, pick up a pen and paper and start out like a diary entry.  Get your current emotional state out onto the paper.  This is the crucial step, because it opens up the conversation, so to speak, for anything you need to get off your chest.  Believe me, once you start with how you are feeling and let it flow all sorts of ideas will present themselves.  Lean in to what comes up, don’t hold back.  Remember, there are no eyes or ears on this except your own and even if it’s tough it is also healing.

Using Journaling Daily to Unpack our Emotions

We all have something that was left unsaid in life.  Most of us have many situation where we wish we’d spoken up for ourselves.  Situations where we wish we’d been brave enough to show our talent, defend our honour, declare our love.  These are the tough emotions that are sitting like a spring in our hearts that need to be released.  Think of the journal as the safety net catching all those pent up emotions as you release them.  Holding them in is dangerous, but with a journal you don’t have to be afraid anymore.  They are safe.

If you are anything like me, writing about your emotions will lead to what is bothering you and the more you write the more you help yourself process the why’s behind what is bothering you.  For me it is usually an emotional rollercoaster of venting, processing and inevitably coming out the other end with a clearer understanding and usually a brighter outlook.

Remember, when you are feeling emotional (any kind), this is your clue that you have something you need to address.  Start there.  ‘I’m angry because…..’.  When you face it head on in a safe space like your journal, you can work through it and make sense of where it is coming from.  This is where journaling daily becomes your superpower, so use it!


Daily Journal with Prompts

If you are more drawn to a daily journal with prompts, my recommendation would be that you start with something that helps you ‘open up’ to the diary gods.  Something along the lines of ‘Why am I feeling hurt, angry or sad right now?’.  The reason I like to start here is because your emotions are always an indication of where you are at in your life.  They are the clues.  So, if you address them you can start getting to the bottom of your triggers, hurdles and emotional roadblocks.

Other prompts would be along the lines of ‘What is it I truly want?’ or, ‘What lights me up?’.  These may seem basic, but put it into practise and do some journaling on these and you will begin to see the power behind actually listening to the answers that come from deep within you.  Your soul is begging to be heard and this practise is a beautiful way of acknowledging that presence in your life.  Really sit with the emotions and the questions and then lay it all out in ink!

Journaling to Dig Deep on our Purpose

What about finding your purpose?  Journaling daily can help you with this too!  Like I said about our emotions, they are generally trying to tell us something.  Usually, there is an underlying aspect that we are denying.  This could be at the root of why we are not fulfilling our life’s purpose.

This sounds super heavy, but bear with me.  When you are emotional about something it means you care, right?  Look deeper at that emotion.  Jealousy is a huge hint at what you are secretly wanting for yourself.  Try to understand your emotions and where they are leaving you breadcrumbs on the trail to your purpose.

So, notice the jealousy and see what that person has that your heart is pining for.  This is something most of us don’t do.  Instead we recognize it as a nasty emotion that needs to be packed away immediately.  But, that emotion is trying to tell you something, so listen to it.  Then it will fade away instead of needing to be packed away!  For example, when something makes you feel happy, think about what it is that you love about it.  What has inspired you?  Write about the emotion and why you think it could be a beacon leading you to your purpose.

What More do we Need to Know about Ourselves?

There is so much we can learn about ourselves.  Am I being authentic?  What part of me am I hiding?  Am I scared?  Am I keeping myself small?  Use your journaling practise to tap into these aspects of self.  Find out more about what you love and hate, where you have room to grow, or what is guiding you in this life.

Take the question ‘Am I being authentic’.  Look at your life, your relationships.  We could be looking at family relationships or work relationships.  Ask yourself if you are putting up a mask in any of these.  If you want to dig really deep you can write out a list of the people you are closest to and then write about your relationship with that person.  How you communicate with each other, how you feel about each other, where you could make improvements.  You could get your therapist cap out and analyse yourself until you get to the bottom of what’s troubling you.

The reason I think journaling daily is such a great tool is because you are taking the time to make sense of your own life first.  In other words, you are doing the work on yourself, preparing your own mind and heart before going out into the world.  Steadying your own ship so to speak.  Not only do you feel more in balance and confident when you work on yourself first, you also feel more able to understand and assist those around you.

Journaling as a Commitment to Self

On a side note I want to acknowledge that journaling is an act of Self Love.  You are making a conscious effort to show up for yourself and that is a power in and of itself.  I mentioned earlier that the journal serves as a best friend, always there to hear you out and support you.  Here’s the thing, that ‘best friend’ is ultimately you.  And, just like it feels good to be able to express yourself to your best friend/dear diary, it feels good to know you are showing up for yourself.

The act of journaling daily is cementing your trust in yourself.  It is making your relationship with yourself better every day.  All relationships need to be nurtured, and your relationship with yourself is no different.  Just like you build trust with someone when they prove themselves to be reliable, you build trust in yourself when you keep showing up.  And, seen as though this is your most important relationship, that kind of trust is priceless.

Thank you for reading.  My last word would be simply to enjoy the process. It is about building that relationship and getting to know yourself on a deeper level.  The more you open up, the more you fall in love with who you are!

Happy Journaling!

Steph x

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‘I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.’ – Anne Frank

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(Post originally posted on 26 Oct 2021 and updated on 9 June 2022)

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