Initially, many, including myself, viewed journaling as a means to unload thoughts and move on without a real purpose or goal. It seemed like a momentary release – you jot down your thoughts, vent out, and carry on with life. Personally, I struggled with journaling because I didn't feel any substantial impact or gain from it. Despite pouring out my feelings and thoughts onto paper, the pain, hurt, frustration, anger, negativity, and confusion lingered within me. Those emotions persisted in my body, seemingly unaffected by the act of journaling. The feelings were all still there in my body.

So, how do you Journal effectively?

There are multiple ways to approach it. In the journaling course I'm developing, I aim to offer various options and freedom, gently guiding individuals to dive deep and derive real value from journaling for healing purposes. Below are my best tips for journaling. 

The form of journaling commonly practiced for personal development involves jotting down feelings or thoughts to gain clarity, understanding, and awareness. However, many people struggle with this, including myself, we jot down events and emotions but fail to move beyond simply acknowledging those feelings. Where I think we all struggle with journaling is that we will write down an event that has happened to us and how we feel about it, the emotions flow on the page and then we close the journal. And we think that that is going to make us feel better, that we are going to heal because we wrote down what we feel. Writing like this didn't lead to healing, change, or growth in my life. It felt like running in circles.

My advice is to push deeper after pouring your emotions onto the page. Start asking yourself questions about the feelings until you reach what seems like the root cause. And then try to go even further. For instance, why does this hurt so much? Why can't I let go? Why did someone's words affect me this intensely? When have I felt this before? Why did I feel that way? When is the first time I felt that way? What made me feel that way? This process will take time. Initially, you might not dive very deep, your answers will be pretty surface level. Your thoughts will most likely stay circled around the current present event. But soon you will find yourself deeper and deeper into your past and your wounding. The goal is to unearth past experiences causing similar pain or emotions, triggering your current state and these will most likely be coming from childhood. Through journaling you will journey through past memories, uncover suppressed painful incidents, and realize how they influence your present actions and emotions. The clarity and understanding gained from journaling help recognize and release these suppressed emotions – be it fear of abandonment, unworthiness, rejection, etc.

The goal of journaling is to become self aware, find clarity and understanding in your situation. Allow yourself to feel all your emotions for the past wounding you locked away, and for your current pain. You’ve held onto these wounds, fears, and beliefs about yourself and through journaling you can become aware of them and release them.

Every emotion you feel is real and valid, and allowing those emotions to surface is crucial. Give yourself the space to feel safe, to feel hurt, and to be heard. There are always going to be things in this world that hurt you, that's just a part of being human, but the awareness you will find from digging deep within yourself through journaling will let you consciously be in and understand your feelings rather than be in the passenger seat lashing out and spiraling into a mental whirlwind. You want to be consciously aware of why you're feeling the way you do, and why your body is reacting the way it is. Journaling helps you free yourself by becoming conscious and aware of you.

So my biggest advice for journaling is to keep digging and to keep asking yourself questions until you reach the beautiful ‘ah-ha’ moments. It’s liberating. 

Another thing that I would like to mention is that once you start becoming aware of yourself, and noticing when you are being triggered, those triggers are a great place to start journaling about. Your triggers are your guides to healing; they show you where you are holding on to pain, and fear from the past. 

I also highly recommend having a journal by your bedside table. Wake up an extra 15 minutes early and every morning write 3 pages. These pages can cover anything. It doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you jot down whatever crosses your mind. It could be thoughts on the day's tasks, reflections on dreams, expressing your excitement for events, frustrations at work, observations about the sunrise, the things around you you are grateful for, or even skepticism about the practice itself, anything that pops into your mind just write it down. The key is to fill those three pages daily. 

This practice is completely different from the practice of doing inner work through journaling that I mentioned above. This practice aims to clear your cluttered morning mind, allowing you to navigate the day with more presence, reduced anxiety, and less mental congestion. I read about it in the book ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron and, personally, I have found it immensely cathartic. It gives way to you being able to tap into your creativity and see things clearly throughout the day. Initially skeptical and finding it challenging, I now feel the clutter in my mind throughout the day if I skip this practice, especially if there is something emotional or triggering I am working through. Ultimately, it helps acknowledge existing thoughts and creates room for fresh ideas throughout the day.

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