6 Ways Keeping a Journal Can Change Your Life
Journaling attracts many different responses. On the plus side, there are a lot of people who decide to purposely write down their thoughts and track their emotional progress as they seek to improve themselves. Others find journaling to be some sort of cop-out. They believe that it's not really as potent or as effective as actual counseling. They would prefer that people who are going through tough situations in their life or who are grappling with certain emotional and mental challenges should go and get professional help.
The good news is that journaling makes sense in all of these situations because it's not really a replacement for good coaching. It's not a question of either getting professional help or helping yourself through your issues. Why can't it be both? In fact, if you are dealing with stress, anxiety or depression, purposely sitting down every day and making it a habit to write down your thoughts could go a long way in your journey of healing. Journaling is really all about documenting your journey towards greater self-discovery, self-awareness, and ultimately healing and personal success. If you're still not convinced as to why you should keep a journal, here are 6 reasons you should make journaling part of your daily routine. You become more organized People who struggle with success often struggle not because they're not smart enough or they don't have the right connections or they're completely broke and have no access to resources. In most cases, people struggle to live the kind of life they imagined for themselves because they're just not organized. They don't know what they want. They don't know how to get from where they are now to the life they desire for themselves. They don't know how to organize their thoughts. Maybe they feel that they can be doing so many things and they end up doing nothing. It can feel like life is spinning at a thousand miles per hour as you deal with career, money, relationship and health issues. Then on top of that you want to learn more and grow and maybe change careers. The internet is more that happy to fill you up with volumes of information and training. Soon your mind is overloaded with data and its tough to sort out. Maybe you just need to collect your thoughts and purposely write down what you are thinking which can help get these thoughts out of your head. And believe it or not, this decision to just document what's going through your mind will put you in a position to eventually organize your thoughts. And once you organize your thoughts, you have gone a long way in eventually controlling them and making them work for you. Realizing and setting your goals The problem with goal setting is that a lot of people are under the impression that they already have goals. So they automatically assume that whatever impulse or tendency that they may have on a day to day basis is enough to turn into reality.
The problem with this is that a lot of people are actually doing a lot more hoping and wishing than actual goal setting. Can you imagine that? You're thinking that you have a destination in mind when in reality, you didn't really plan out where you're going and how to get there. You didn't even whip out a compass. You didn't even bother to bring along a map. So how can you say to yourself “I know where I'm going” when all you're doing, really, is following a hunch. You may think you know what to do or you know what you're about. But these are just impressions that you have in your mind. This is not really going to take you where you need to go. You have to have something more definite. And the great thing about journaling is you get to spit out a lot of ideas as to what you want to do and what they mean to you. You can do this every single day for an extended period of time. But pretty soon, a pattern emerges. There are certain things that become constant. You just keep thinking about these while others, as passionate as you may have been about them when you first thought about them, quickly faded away. When you pay attention to these patterns, thanks to your journal, you become clear as to what your goals really are. So you end up identifying your goals, isolating their parts, breaking them down, and then eventually creating a plan of action based on your true goals. Stress reduction The more you keep your ideas and emotions bottled up, the more stressed out you become. This is pretty basic. No big mystery here.
The good news is simply writing down what you're thinking of can go a long way in relieving some of that tension. Think of it in terms of allowing your mind and psyche to vent.
When you write down your thoughts, they're no longer fuzzy, connected to emotions, or shrouded in confusion. Instead, you can see logically and rationally where an issue begins and ends. This gives you a sense of control because when you keep things in your head and you're just trying to grapple with that problem, it's easy to get all emotional and it becomes bigger and bigger the more you focus on it.
But when you reduce it down into writing and you come back to it, you're able to make sense of it. And before you know it, you start to break it down and this gives you a sense of control. This is really all you need because once you feel that you can control your situation and things are not as bad as you originally thought, you start feeling better about yourself or your stress level starts to go down dramatically.
Learn important lessons
Journaling really enables you to document your thought processes in such a way that you have a written record to go back to in terms of your decisions, goals, and other things that you think are important in your life.
And as you go through your past entries, you quickly realize that a lot of your old priorities no longer apply today. You see yourself changing in real-time and this can help you gain perspective because let's face it, there are a lot of challenges that we face right now that seem insurmountable if not downright impossible.
They're just so big or complicated. But when you look at the past experiences that you've had and the challenges that you've overcome, it turns out that you have actually slain giants before in your mind and you have overcome mountains.
If you were able to do that in the past, what's holding you back from doing so today? If anything, reflecting on your past actions really gives you a deep insight in just how strong and capable you are regardless of what you're feeling right now.
All in all, this gives you a sense of hope. These aren't as bad as you think.
You learn to truly identify who you are
One of the biggest challenges the people will grapple with unconsciously is identity. If you look at all the things you're having problems with, maybe you're not making enough money or you're always struggling with somebody who's close to you or you're having a tough time at school.
A lot of this has to do with your identity. If we're not careful, we assume identities that other people pass on to us. For example, your parents assume you to be a certain type of person. Is that who you really are?
So if there's a disconnect between what other people assume you to be and what they expect from you and who you really are, there's going to be a problem and you're going to be on the losing side because you're trying to please them.
When you write down your thoughts in your journal, you start to identify who you really are because when you look at your goals, values, and priorities, certain themes keep emerging and they don't come out of nowhere. It's as if there's this haunting voice telling you “This is who I am. This is what I want to do. This is what I think I am.”
And when you listen to that voice by reading to passages and then reacting to it with your new passages, you start analyzing yourself and start seeing these strands of identity form. Before you know it, you become clear as to what your values really are and you are led to a point of clarity.
This is where you choose to be the person that you want to be. What kind of values does that person have? What kind of priorities should be first and foremost on that person's mind? Before you know it, your identity starts to change and you become a happier person because you're now living the kind of life that you have purposely chosen.
Journaling enables you to take ownership
It's very easy to view your life as some sort of accident. You didn't want to be born. If you wanted to be born, you probably didn't want to be born in this type of world with all its injustice and imperfections. Fair enough.
And it's very easy for a lot of people to feel lost because they feel that they live in a world that they didn't create, nobody understands them, and nobody really know who they are. But when you get into the practice of keeping a journal, you start realizing that your life is ultimately the effect. It's the final product.
Where did it come from? It didn't come from other people, other people's decisions or what they think, your life and everything in it came from your thoughts because ultimately, the way you define, judge, and make sense of your life, all of these are choices.
These choices don't come from nowhere. They are your reflection of the mindset that you have adopted. You may not be conscious of it because it has been so long, but you can choose your mindset.
As the old saying goes, when you're a hammer, every problem in life starts looking like nails. Your perspective counts for a lot. When you make a habit of journaling, you start dissecting what your perspective is. You start realizing that you are this type of person because this is how you routinely do things.
This then begs the question “Do you want to continue being that person or would you like to choose to be something else?” When you do this, you have attained something that most people can only wish to get. What's that? Self-ownership.
Very few are the people who can tell you to your face with all honesty that they chose their lives. For everybody else, we're constantly complaining about our boss, the bully in junior high school, our first relationship, our parents, this, and that. We're constantly blaming others or situations for how messed up certain parts of our life turned out.
But when you achieve self-ownership. You get inner peace because you can always come back to the crucial point that you chose your life and you own it fully.
That is a life of mastery and hope.