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I Journaled MY Way, Here's What I Learned

Emotions play a profound role in influencing how we experience and interact with the world. When intense negative emotions overwhelm us, they can significantly affect our relationships and overall well-being, compromising our quality of life. That's why it's important to practice effective emotion regulation.

In this article, we’ll explore the impact of journaling as a powerful tool for regulating emotions and taking control of our own stories. As someone who has personally experienced the transformative power of journaling, I’m sharing my story and highlighting the impact that this simple yet profound tool can have on your own healing journey.

Open journal
Photo: Kelly Sikkema | Unsplash

Resistance and fear

Before I sought therapy, I often found myself overwhelmed by my emotions, primarily anger and depletion. It was difficult for me to understand and express these feelings constructively, which led to a great deal of inner turmoil. Recognizing the need for change, my therapist introduced me to journaling as a means of self-reflection and emotional regulation.

In the beginning, I was resistant to this idea. I believed I had nothing valuable to say, and deep down, I was afraid of confronting the raw emotions that may surface through writing. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try, realizing that this could potentially be a breakthrough in my healing journey.

I struggled to even put pen to paper. Every time I sat down, I found myself staring at a blank page, wondering where to begin. But my therapist provided 3 helpful tips. 

  1. The first one was to journal in the morning. This helped me with making sure that all of my feelings were all mine and not influenced with my day's experiences.

  2. The second one was to find a sense of stillness before journaling.

  3. Third, was to simply write whatever came to mind, without judgment or expectations. "Just write," she said. So, I took a deep breath and allowed the words to flow. 

Finding my voice and understanding myself

To my surprise, as I started putting pen to paper, words began to flow, as if a hidden part of me longed to be expressed. Journaling provided me with a safe and private space to explore my thoughts, emotions, and experiences. It helped me understand myself on a deeper level and shed light on patterns and beliefs that were holding me back.

Through the act of journaling, I began to see things in a new way. As I reflected on my entries, I gained insights into my own behaviors and reactions. I discovered that by expressing my emotions and naming them, I could better navigate and reframe them. This process helped me develop self-compassion and learn to be kinder and more understanding towards myself.

 Your journal can become a haven, a companion, and a source of self-discovery.

Narrative Therapy: Shaping our own stories

Journaling also introduced me to the concept of narrative therapy, which empowered me to take control of my own life by controlling the stories I told myself. Our lives are a collection of stories, and journaling serves as a platform for storytelling. By consciously crafting the narratives we create, we can shape our experiences and perspectives.

Through journaling, I rewrote my story, replacing negative beliefs and destructive patterns with empowering narratives. I found strength in my experiences, resilience in my struggles, and hope in the face of adversity. Journaling became far more than a therapeutic exercise; it became a lifeline.

Journaling became a practice of self-expression and self-compassion for me. It allowed me to express my emotions, fears, and desires in a safe and non-judgmental space. Through writing, I learned to be gentle with myself, offering understanding and acceptance. It helped me strengthen the relationship with the different parts of ME.  The parts of me that I was once ashamed of or even angry with, I developed an appreciation for. I developed a healthier relationship with myself. The process of putting my thoughts onto paper helped me release the weight I had been carrying, making room for healing and growth.

I realized that I had the power to transform my story and create a more empowered and positive version of myself.

Creative ways to journal

For some of us when we hear of journaling, it can feel overwhelming. We ask ourselves, where do we begin? How do I journal? Is there a right or wrong way to journal? I'm not a writer, what would I write about? So when we’re asked to share our private thoughts and feelings on paper, without proper guidance or understanding, our default may be to shut down and push our journal aside.

If the idea of journaling overwhelms you, there are various creative approaches to journaling that can make the process more enjoyable and accessible. Consider the following suggestions:

Using journal prompts

Sometimes, all it takes is a simple journal prompt to get you going. You can start by answering questions like "What am I feeling right now?" or "What brings me joy?" The important thing is to allow yourself the freedom to write without overthinking. Don't worry about spelling or grammar, this is for your eyes only.

Tell a story

Another approach is to write a story about the life of a character. This character can be an extension of yourself or someone you admire or aspire to be. Use your imagination and have fun with it. Write a story where this character overcomes a challenge and learns valuable lessons along the way. Through storytelling, you can tap into your creativity and explore different possibilities.

Letter Writing

This approach is just as powerful. You can write a letter to a person, this can be you or someone in your life. This letter can address a grievance, a regret, an apology or any thought or feelings you kept to yourself and never expressed. This is helpful when you want to speak to your inner child or the younger you, caregivers, or any person who has had an impact on you. This letter is for your own self-expression, this does not mean you have to share the letter with the person you are writing to. The purpose here is to help you release the emotion through words on paper. It’s an exercise that serves to remind you that you ultimately have the power to release and heal.

Use visual art/Mood Board

For those who may be intimidated by blank pages or writing in general, try expressing yourself through drawing or collaging. This technique is a combination of art therapy and narrative therapy.  Create visual representations of the stories you want to tell. Use colors, images, and words to capture your thoughts and emotions. This visual form of journaling allows for a different kind of self-expression and can be just as powerful in your healing journey.

Journaling became a practice of self-expression and self-compassion for me.

Abundant possibilities

Remember, there are no rules when it comes to journaling. The possibilities are abundant. The most important thing is to start. Allow yourself the space to explore your thoughts and feelings, and trust that through the act of writing, healing can begin. Your journal can become a haven, a companion, and a source of self-discovery. Embrace the power of journaling and let it guide you on your path to healing.


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