When we begin to write in a journal, knowledge of our true self is found at a much deeper level
I find writing a voyage of self-discovery – I am often surprised by what unfolds as I put pen to paper – or more often, fingers to keyboard. I usually have only a rough idea of what I wish to write about. As I explore the subject in more depth, my previously hidden thoughts and feelings begin to manifest.
This increase in self-awareness is just one of the healing benefits that personal writing or journaling can create. Self-knowledge and self-awareness are critical to our emotional well-being as we begin to learn what makes us feel certain emotions or think in a certain way.
Importantly self-awareness is a necessary precursor to knowing what makes us tick – this is individual – we can’t guess it, or follow what inspires others. Thus, knowing what “makes us tick”, or motivates, us is a key requisite to achieving our goals. It also helps us know whether are goals are truly reflective of our values personally, or whether they were values superimposed upon us.
Writing can also be a tool to solve problems by developing a greater insight into them. I believe the healing potential of journal writing to lay in the fact that it requires us to slow down, turn inward and this provides the opportunity to reflect. The speed at which the human mind runs makes it more difficult to relax and reflect.
The very process of writing slows us down enough so that we become more conscious and thoughtful. The unfolding of words on a page (or these days, a computer screen!) also allows us to track our thoughts, letting them flow. The act of writing provides an anchor so that rather than being distracted by irrelevant internal or external events we can remain focussed on words forming on a page.
Journal writing allows us to express and be ourselves authentically, and without self-censorship that occurs when we are talking to others. Unlike pondering an issue without writing it down, we can read over what we have written – we can see our thoughts more closely and because we have slowed down to write, a greater degree of self-reflection will likely produce a greater number of personal revelations.
Writing can be a wonderful way to arrive at a decision – we can not only list the advantages and disadvantages of each hypothetical choice, but by writing them down, we can often see how these link in with our value system, thoughts and feelings, and the repercussions of them may well become self-evident.
Writing can be cathartic and an effective way to if not appease the upsets in our life, still express how this has made us feel. Sometimes, we aren’t even aware of how something upsetting has affected us. We may feel angry or sad but not know why and without the self-awareness that writing facilitates, blame something else.
In summary, writing can be wonderfully healing…it starts us on a journey of self-exploration, clarifying our values, our opinions, and can be remarkable in that we may think we know ourselves fully, but when we start to write, we can separate ourselves better from others, and, not being open to censor or judgement, our feelings, thoughts and motivations allow us to understand ourselves.
We have thus opened up the doorway to greater happiness, a greater ability to know what will help us reach our goals and insights to issues we are troubled with. We may have revelations during the writing process which astound us.
Self-awareness is what allows us to make choices about which direction to go in – it keeps us on the path, our own unique path. Seeing that each of us are here on a unique journey, writing may be one of the tools that helps us to discover our purpose and which path to follow.
In summary writing can
make clear our thoughts and feelings
help us to define our own personal goals and values
provide insights into issues
know what motivates and inspires us
can help us see a 'big picture' when it comes to making a decision
can be cathartic, providing an outlet for stress and trauma