Holding on to a nonexpressed emotion is the most common reason people suffer from anxiety, depression, addictions and somatic disorders. Unexpressed emotions and desires are truly poison for your mental, and ultimately physical, well-being. Your body has the ability to remove toxins from its systems automatically, without you doing anything beyond eating and drinking. With our minds, we’re not so fortunate. We do eliminate some of the toxic modes of thought and emotion by expressing them, but others we squirrel away like mice with cheese, tucking fears, resentments and grudges into dark corners of the mind where they fester for years, driving our behaviors and causing anxiety, depression, addictions and somatic disorders. Driving these poisons from the mind takes work. Just as with physical poisons, there’s a process: identify the toxin, develop a process for getting rid of it, and eliminate it from the psyche. Journal writing is a part of this vital process.
As you become more adept at it, you’ll use your journal writing to identify and express your most complex, intense emotions and thoughts. Journal writing is a surefire way of overcoming life’s obstacles, promoting self-awareness and of identifying and fulfilling your life’s goals. Speak to yourself in your journal, and you will hear the answers coming from your subconscious. Listen to the answers and let your voice guide you. One useful exercise is to imagine that you are lying on your deathbed. Think about the things you have accomplished in your life that have given you meaning. Listen to any regrets, keeping in mind we usually regret not the things we did, but the things we did not do.
Pay attention to these “deathbed” thoughts and let them lead you toward your goals, your true meaning in life. The intense yearnings and passionate ideas that keep arising over and over again in your journal – those are probably your goals, the things that will make you feel like a complete, fulfilled person. Once you embrace your life’s purpose and meaning, you must learn how to accomplish your goals. Daily journal writing is a powerful way of staying focused on your goals and of finding your path to achieving them.
Your journal can become your self-produced manual on goal achievement. As you write about the steps you take each day toward your goals, you will become skilled at troubleshooting your methods and choices, and at picking better ways of moving toward those goals.
Tips for Successful Journaling
Keeping a journal is a way of identifying yourself. It’s you saying,
“This is who I am. This is how I feel today. This is what life looks like to me.” Writing in a journal is also a way of introducing you to yourself. Follow these suggestions:
1. Be honest-and kind-with yourself about what is possible for you to accomplish within a certain time frame.
2. Don’t edit yourself. Some people want their journals to read just perfectly, as if they’re submitting them for publication.Others want to leave out material that seems embarrassing, childish or foolish. Don’t screen your writing.
3. Be honest with yourself. You can’t interpret and you can’t give yourself permission to lie, either. When you’re journaling, give yourself permission to make mistakes.
No one else is going to see your journal, so be completely candid.
If you don’t, you’ll be writing a script for your ideal life, not the life you’re leading today-the one you want to improve.
4. Keep your journal private, except for sharing it with a therapist. What’s going on in your mind at the time is no one else’s business, and you may censor yourself if you think someone else will be reading what you write.
Reading Your Journal
Do more than write in your journal; go back and read it about once a month. A journal’s greatest value is as a self-reflective tool, and you can’t reflect if you don’t look back.