Keeping a Personal Journal

Published in Wellness, Behavioral Health Services

“One of the most useful means for long-term self-development is the systematic use of an ongoing workbook, diary or journal. Such a journal, thoughtfully done, can provide a structure to assist us in paying closer, attention to our lives and in evoking and developing our understanding of ourselves and others. It acts as a “reflector” of the inner course we are charting day by day, and can give us the stimulation and support which many seek from the outside world.”

— Sara Miller

The purpose of journal writing is to afford you the opportunity to reflect upon the meaning and the significance of events in your life as they apply to your inner self.

The focus of journal writing is on your unfolding awareness of the new meanings, values and interrelationships you are discovering in yourself and the world.

The values of journal writing. The act of presenting your ideas on paper forces you to formulate and clarify your thoughts and their accompanying feelings, thus enhancing the power and precision of your thinking.

When you make the move from simply thinking something to actually writing it down you are increasing your commitment to your own conscious unfoldment.

Writing forces you to discriminate and to choose which of all of your thoughts are important enough to be documented, thus getting you in better touch with your sense of values.

Once you record ideas on paper you do not have to be preoccupied with thoughts of losing them. The writing makes “room” for new avenues of thinking that you may not have had time to previously consider.

Writing is an effective yet harmless way of “letting off steam” by providing you with a “fully accepting friend” that allows you to discharge your tensions and to vent all of your powerful and disruptive emotions.

The themes and categories for journal writing. In addition to the narrative written material about your own thoughts, feelings and observations you may also choose to include:

  • Drawings or other visual materials, i.e., dreams, fantasies, symbols, or diagrams that are useful in clarifying or expressing your ideas.
  • Illustrations from magazines or newspapers which capture the thought or image you are writing about.
  • Personally meaningful quotations you may have read or heard.
  • A section entitled “Bright Ideas” may help you to “brainstorm” about all the possible alternatives to your problems.
  • An inner dialogue or imaginary conversation between yourself and any other significant person in your life will help you to clarify your relationships, and to develop understanding and insight about your problems.

The outcome of journal writing. In time you will find that your writing has been effective not only in helping you to define specific problem areas but also in helping you to work through your problems and in bringing about resolution and personal growth.

For future use your journal presents you with a fine document which can be referred to when you encounter similar problems in your life.

Happy Writing!

Ideas for Journal Writing

You may find it helpful to clarify your thoughts about your loved one by recording your feelings in the form of a letter. Write a letter to the person who died, expressing your thoughts and feelings about the following issues:

  • A special memory that I have about you.
  • What I miss the most about you and our relationship.
  • What I wish I’d said or hadn’t said.
  • What I’d like to ask you.
  • What I wish we’d done or hadn’t done.
  • What I’ve had the hardest time dealing with.
  • Ways in which you will continue to live on in me.
  • Special ways I have for keeping my memories of you alive.

Choose one or several ideas that have significance for you to start at the top of the list and work your way down. These topics may serve to help you come up with your own ideas specific to your situation and relationship.