The Importance of Keeping a Journal
By Susan Leigh

At times, if we are feeling lonely or having a problem that we feel we cannot share, keeping a journal can provide important solace and comfort. It can become a valuable way to help us organise our thoughts and then start to understand them.

Committing thoughts to paper is a valuable guide to clarifying them. We have to take the time to formulate a sentence whilst often, at the same time, allowing the thoughts to flow and evolve, like a stream of words and ideas, happening in an almost unconscious way. Re-reading these entries at a later time can be beneficial as it allows us to gain useful, significant insights into our feelings and actions.

It is often beneficial to regularly update your journal. Keeping the discipline of a regular date with your journal can enable your thoughts to become more focused and clear. You start to understand more about the how and why of your actions. It helps you start to understand yourself more. Plus, it provides an important point of reference to refer back to and appreciate how you worked through any issues and situations that previously caused problems.

Many people support their therapy sessions by keeping a journal. Often issues that are discussed during a session can continue being reflected on or even dreamt about afterwards. Using a journal can allow the therapeutic process to be continued, writing down feelings, remembering and making sense of experiences and the impact that they have had in their life.

A journal is a good place to write lists. Consider the things that you want to do in life, the goals, dreams, the things that would make a difference to you and to your life. By committing them to paper they become less elusive and may even start to take shape as serious options and worthy of consideration.

Write down the things that you are grateful for in your life. The list may start as being a little general or even vague, but once you start writing it can become easier to think of the very special people, things, experiences that have impacted on your life and contributed to you being the person you are today. Give thanks for that and the valuable lessons you learned along the way.

Affirmations can be a powerful use for a journal. Writing statements about the way that you would like to be, results and goals that you would like to achieve and putting them on paper, in the present tense, as if already happening, can focus the mind into a much more positive way of thinking. When we focus in this way it is true that we attract more positive energy, actions and results to us.

Privacy is often an important aspect of journal writing. When we have concerns that we feel we may be judged on there is often a sense that there is no one else that we can share them with, other than our journal. The fear that we may be judged in a negative way by others can exacerbate those negative emotions. When we are feeling vulnerable having a safe place where we can offload our deepest, darkest fears is often an important point of refuge, which often results in them becoming less distressing and more understandable.

Keep your journal in a safe place. Having ones journal discovered and read by someone else can feel like a major invasion of privacy. In fact, even in the closet relationships people often draw the line at allowing their partner to read their journal. It is the place where momentary, fleeting fears and thoughts are shared and worked through or particular concerns are committed to paper, read through and then moved on from. It is often a work-in-progress.

Susan Leigh is a Counsellor and Hypnotherapist who works with
– stressed individuals to promote confidence and self belief,
– couples in crisis to help improve communications and understanding
– with business clients to help support the health and motivation levels of individuals and teams

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