Many of us were encouraged to write diaries as children. As adults, we tend to consider our diaries as to-do lists and appointments only. However, writing a regular journal can help us to break through habitual thought patterns in order to find our creative potential, and explore our own knowledge and wisdom.
What type of journal?
Your first task is to decide and plan what sort of journal you wish to write. There is a wide range of topics, and rather than allow your mind to flow freely across all sorts of subjects, you may wish to plan the scope of your journal before you start. These may include dreams, travel, studying, daily events, creativity, spiritual experiences, relationships, nature – the choice is yours, and there are so many exciting possibilities.
Journaling can be done using other media too. For some people, quilting provides a way of telling a story. Doodling, sketching, painting, photography or scrapbook-making can be used as expressive media for daily events.
The benefits of regular journal-writing
Writing regularly about our lives helps to retain or gain a sense of perspective. In bad times, it may be difficult to remember that life does not always feel this way. It is also difficult to imagine that you will not feel bad in the future. Daily writing gives proof that most things are temporary. Re-reading a journal after a time of change and worry can often be an important part of healing. The passage of time always introduces a new perspective.
Journaling can capture fleeting thoughts on paper. Unless we capture these insights, they can float away or become less clear. We can start understanding our thinking patterns, and use journaling exercises to think in different ways.
Writing down our feelings is beneficial in the search for the resolution of a problem. When we write, thinking is forced to slow down; hand movements are slower than our flashing thoughts. Mental images can also be fragmented or incomplete. By writing down our thoughts through to their conclusions, we can understand them – and ourselves – better.
Journaling can provide a memory aid. More of our faculties are used when we write down words. When we merely hear information, it is considered that we can only recall 10 – 20% of it within a couple of days. If we write it down, we can double our recall from 20% to 40% (even without re-reading it) because we have reinforced our thoughts through vision and motion. We can also identify self-limiting beliefs and contact a wealth of insights, imagination wisdom and creativity.
Sometimes, our conscious minds can be our own worst enemies, justifying poor decisions, and rationalising self-limiting beliefs. Negative thoughts can taunt us, repeating themselves and preventing us from moving on. Journaling can allow us to get off this carousel and gain new perspectives and insights. All you need is paper and a pen – or a computer file.
If you keep a diary, how has it helped you? Let us know in the comments!