“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.” - Ernst Hemingway
What do you think would have happened to Devdas, if he, instead of drowning his sorrow in alcohol, had simply started journaling about his feelings, his memories with Paro, and dealt with difficult emotions like a mature person? He probably would have made a better life for himself and people like him. You’d say, ‘I don’t know that for sure’. Well no one does but a Journaling habit is still better than having a poisonous one.
Like him, many of you have your own way of dealing with things and journaling can be the most effective and healthy one. The problem is there are a lot of things that we should do—but we don’t do them.
'Why?’ You ask.
‘I have no idea HOW to do them.’
Seems reasonable. You will find out how you can start Journaling.
‘What good would journaling do, would my problems disappear?’
Maybe you can try magic. Journaling won’t solve the situation you’re facing, but it can definitely help you deal with it’s mental, physical and emotional consequences.
‘I don’t have time for such activities. It’s a child’s play or a girly thing to do.’
We all think that journaling is easy so we don’t bother asking how to do it. It’s not easy, but it’s also not rocket science.
In fact, many of us have the wrong idea when it comes to journaling. It seems like a task to regularly maintain a record. But in reality, it’s a companion who listens to you and with whom, you can share anything without being judged.
Never let your feelings get in the way of seeing things the way they are.
A journal is a written record of your thoughts, experiences, and observations. Our whole lives we are told to write a certain way, to use a number two pencil and stay within the lines, to fill up exactly three pages with our thoughts on a specific theme, being sure to include topic sentences and a conclusion. Journaling is different. With journaling, there are no rules, no rights or wrongs. It is a space where you’re free to express yourself completely.
‘Journaling is Paying attention to the inside for the purpose of Living well from the Inside Out.’ - Lee Wise
Why do we Journal? Let’s draw on it’s purpose in your life
To resolve past conflicts within yourself. Remember how that cute guy called you fat in front of everyone in the class and now you feel conscious about it every time you see an attractive guy. You can write all of that down.
Your journal creates an opportunity to reconnect with yourself and Explore Difficult Emotions present in unconscious mind or your ‘Blind Spot’. Don’t drink your sadness away like Devdas.
Rejoice memories you made with your friends in school and college when you lied to your parents for each other just so you could go out on drive, got together for a sleepover to be with your heart-broken friend, made spontaneous trip plans and tried new stuff with them.
Discuss feelings which you can’t share with a person, fearing judgement. This can be your safe space, where you can be you. The authentic you.
You can write your dreams, aspirations and goals you want to achieve in life by creating a myriad of ideas. This exercises idea muscles in the brain.
Journaling helps improve Immunity which gets affected by chronic diseases like Cancer, AIDS, etc. The research suggests people who use writing to better understand their emotions get the most benefit.
Your Journal can be anything you want it to be. Here are a few ideas.
Create an Activity Log and Journal about your activities. You can start with getting your own personal journal which can act as a record, and then ask your self these simple questions.
‘What time did I go to bed and woke up the next day?’
‘What did I do first after freshening up?’
‘What book did I read and lesson I learned?’
‘Who did I talk to and what did we talk about?’
‘What work did I do?’
‘What did I eat and how did it Taste?’
Self Reflection Journal. Self-Reflection helps identify your values, thinking, opinions, and what is the most important thing in your life? Explore your spiritual core. Ask yourself:
‘ Where do I stand in my own way? ’
‘ What is my purpose? ‘
‘ What do I value most?’
‘ What skills do I have and what needs to be honed? ‘
‘ What’s the smallest step I can take towards a big thing today? ‘
Habit Tracking Journal. You can start cultivating habits that you want to add, ones you want to let go off and the ones you want to continue. If you commit to it, you build your confidence, self-esteem and vibrations. Writing your goals, process and its consequences can be one way to go.
Get yourself a Gratitude Journal. Writing Three positive things that you’re thankful for early in morning raises positive vibrations. It is different from Toxic Positivity. It’s not forced. It solely relies on the things you’re actually thankful for and grounds you to present.
Time travel Journal. Journal about one fearful experience in your life. It can involve writing about,
‘When and where did that incident happen?’
‘How did it make me feel?’
‘What still disturbs me about this incident?’
‘What can I do to address this fear?’
Affirmation Journal. I started affirmation last year when lockdown hit all of us hard. I was feeling low and unmotivated and everything in life made me miserable. Then I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron who set some tasks for increasing creativity and motivation in life by rewiring old belief systems.
‘Set your alarm clock half an hour before you actually have to wake up and get your affirmation journal out. ‘
‘Fill three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness morning writing without filtering anything out.’
‘Convert all blurts into positive affirmations.’
Maintain a yoga Journal. I wasn’t aware of a journal called ‘Yoga Journal’, that is before I started training with a Yoga instructor who explained the significance of tracking progress. Of Course I felt conscious of my weight, body shape, what others thought about me, or if I got a posture right, and so on. But gradually I learned that ‘There’s nothing right or wrong when it comes to doing yoga on mat or outside of it.’ The only thing that matters is Consistency.
‘What did I learn on the yoga mat today?’
‘How aware I was of my surroundings and body sensations?’
‘How was my breathing level?’
‘What can I improve next time?’
Knowing well how Journaling has changed my life for the best and how I am able to commit to this moment, there are endless possibilities that I’m open to and never back down from facing the worst of my nightmares. I don’t have to look back in the past and continue to relive it. And trust me when I say this, there’s nothing more satisfying than knowing yourself completely and accepting every part of who you are unapologetically.