By Suzanne E. Harrill
Writing is a good way to get to know
yourself, solve your problems, lower your stress level, and
balance yourself emotionally. If you are new to this, buy a
notebook to begin keeping a journal, not a diary, a journal.
What is the difference? A diary reports events and usually makes
sense if another were going to read it. A journal, on the other
hand, is about your emotional reactions to people and events,
insights you have in understanding yourself, lists of your
needs, wants, values, and goals. You can write about your
dreams, both daydreams and dreams during sleep, giving your
feelings and your hunches free range to explore meaning for you.
A journal is a good place to record your guiding beliefs and
patterns of behavior that keep you stuck, and your rewrites. It
might include letters to people who have hurt you, even if it
happened years ago. Sometimes these letters are written only to
help you express and process your feelings. Wait a couple of
days if you choose to mail a letter to make sure it feels right.
Time stops emotionally when you have an
emotional trauma and a part of you gets stuck. Writing out your
angry, hurt, and sad feelings helps move those frozen emotional
parts of you, to bring the light of understanding with new
clarity and interpretations from your aware, adult self, and to
integrate these experiences. If you have a fight with a family
member, use your journal writing to sort out your feelings and
to make sense out of your reactions. Then you may decide to
write that person a letter to open communication and share where
you are without being as emotional. Once you begin writing and
expressing yourself, you may discover it reminds you of a
similar pattern with one of your parents or it may repeat some
of your parentsí dance with each other. You may not even have
realized this, but journal writing can help you stumble upon
other earlier issues that fuel the reactions you are having with
this person in your present.
Journals are not for others to read and do
not make sense to anyone else. In fact, they are personal and
need to be kept out of reach of the curious in your households.
If you feel your privacy will not be honored, then mail what you
write to a friend, therapist, or understanding family member. I
have worked with a few people who find writing leaves them too
open and vulnerable. So they write down insights and process
their experiences and then destroy what they have written to
avoid any risk of being hurt by another invading their privacy.
Write in your journal a minimum of 20 or 30
minutes a day. This may sound like a big commitment to those of
you who have never experienced the healing effects of journal
writing. Try it for a month or two before you judge this
process. Forget any memories of school and needing to write in
complete sentences, neatly, or with correct spelling. Just
express yourself. Over time you will get the feel of it. If you
walk or exercise your physical body daily it becomes a habit; so
does expressing yourself in your journal. It is especially
helpful to write during times of rapid growth and healing, high
stress, holidays, anniversaries of painful events, or when
irritated with work or a family member. One tip that helps
motivate me is to have many different colored ink pens, and then
I choose the color that I feel like writing with each time. It
is amazing how easy it is to write some of your issues in
purple, while others respond to green or orange.
Journal writing is a process, and awareness
grows in this process. One or two days of writing usually does
not help you as much as the richness found in a series of
writings. Here you see bigger patterns, deeper themes, and many
more details. Many people resist writing, possibly because it
reminds them of the pressures of being in school. For journaling
you donít need to worry about spelling, writing in complete
sentences, or grammar. Just express yourself. Until you try it
for a while, it is difficult to understand the benefits of
writing down your thoughts and feelings. The most remarkable
thing for me is that insights sometimes pop out of my
unconscious and onto my paper, and often I had no idea these
ideas were there. Use the following questions and suggestions to
get you started. Once you have answered them go back and do it
again. New information always come forward.
Journal Questions for Self-Discovery
Describe your parents. How are you alike
and how are you different from each? What are the most
significant traits, guiding beliefs, or patterns of behavior
that you learned from each of your parents? Which of these do
you like and which do you dislike? What did you learn from
each parent about money, anger, prosperity, communication,
relationships? (This question alone could keep you writing for
List what you like and dislike about your
own character traits. Take one characteristic that you wish to
change. Write every thought, feeling, and memory you have
related to this trait. What blocks you from moving this trait
in a positive direction? What are some baby steps you can take
to improve this trait? Describe how you will look, act, and
feel when you have transformed this trait in yourself. Take a
moment each day to feel and visualize this updated trait in
yourself as if it is already true. Continue with more of your
traits that you wish to transform.
What motivates you in life? Where do you
feel your passion?
Write about your most developed and least
developed part of yourself -- physical, emotional, mental, or
spiritual. What things do you need to do to balance yourself?
Write about the people who are/were mentors
or role models for you? Begin in childhood. Who did you admire
and why? What have you learned from each of them? What do you
like about each? Which of their values, characteristics,
behaviors, and beliefs do you choose to emulate?
Think about the most exciting future you
can imagine. Write a story about your future as if you are
writing a novel or movie with you as the main character. Make
it the way you really dream of and move beyond your current
Write about the most negative thought or
feeling you have about yourself. Write some healing
affirmations to reflect what you now know is true.
Get in touch with some of your fears, like
fear of rejection, abandonment, not being perfect, or not
being good or smart enough. Write about each. When do you
remember first having them? What events trigger them today?
How do you see yourself healing these? Create some
Write about significant emotional events
that have influenced your life.
List your needs, wants, and goals.
List your values and rank order them.
Notice which ones are your biggest motivators.
List ten guiding beliefs. Rewrite the
Write a letter to someone you are angry
with, hurt by, resentful towards, or unable to forgive. You do
not have to mail the letter unless your inner guidance directs
you to do this.
Record your dreams. Include how you feel
about each dream and what you think each may mean. Look for
themes and patterns in your dreams over a period of time.
Who were the people and situations that
influenced your self-esteem in the past? Write about your
positive and negative feeling experiences. What does your
inner guidance tell you to do about healing the past?
Write about conditional and unconditional
love. What did you experience and learn from your family of
origin? from your religious teachings? from the media? Who do
you love unconditionally? Discuss.
List things that you do, or want to start
doing to nurture yourself.
Write a letter at the beginning of each
year or on your birthday, expressing all that you want to
experience and accomplish in the next year. Open your letter
the following year and see how well you did. Notice whether
you had unreal expectations of time, either allowing too much
or too little time to do what you say you wanted to
accomplish, create, and experience.