I have heard about the importance of journaling. I was a psychology student for years. I saw a therapist when I was a child. I have several relatives in the counseling field. I read articles about how journaling is linked with happiness, with life satisfaction.
I even made journaling a part of my nightly routine for months at a time. And I saw benefits from it.
But lately, I have not been doing it often. Here are some of the “symptoms” that emerge when I don’t journal. And if you are experiencing these too, maybe they are signs it’s time for you to start….
1) I keep checking Facebook, looking for… something. Yep, I love me some social media. If you’re reading this, you probably know that about me already. But there’s a dramatic difference in how I invest my time.
When I am centered, I use Facebook as a tool to quickly connect with friends. See what is going on in their lives. Share what’s going on in mine. Pass on a little encouragement and a virtual hug.
But when I am out of touch with myself and my emotions… Well, sometimes I look for encouragement or motivation. I’m cool with that. (And it’s easy to find. My friends are awesome!!) But when I linger… When I NEED a response to my posts or want to catch the first “Like”. When I go to Facebook as a way of finding some sort of validation… That’s a sign.
2) I find myself doing more talking than listening when I’m with my friends. OR,
3) I find myself getting annoyed with friends for not listening! A dear friend used to joke about “Abby-talking therapy.” This was where Abby talked on-and-on, and she listened and just relaxed. Haha! There is a place for that. And I know most of my friends are happy to listen. 😉 However, when I come to a friendship NEEDING them to listen… that’s a sign I am out of whack. Journaling frees me to be a better friend.
4) I start looking for sympathy. See #1 and 2 above! Cheesy though it may sound, when I’m looking for sympathy, it’s usually because I haven’t given it to myself. Journaling is a place where I can grieve. A place where I can let myself be weak and vulnerable and sad.
5) My mind is racing. Like most people these days, I have many different roles. I am a student, writer, and researcher. I am a school psychologist and health coach. I am a daughter, sister, and friend.
When all the responsibilities and the to-do lists get overwhelming, it’s time to write it all out. And in doing so, to let it all go.
6) I am afraid. Ahhhh… Probably the biggest one for me. Fear is the root of most of my bad behavior. Journaling lets me confront that fear. Spell it out. Define it. And somehow make it less terrifying through this process.
It also lets me reconnect with my goals, my dreams. the reasons why I WANT to confront the fear. The magic that is just outside of my comfort zone. The courageous woman I am becoming.
7) I don’t feel anything. This is a huge red flag for me! You see, when I DON’T feel, it’s because I’m have chosen to go numb. Typically, I numb out by reaching for a book, watching TV, checking FB incessantly (see #1, lol).
I numb out to avoid fear. Or pain. But the cost is avoiding joy. Love. Passion. That is not how I want to live ever again. So I journal. And let the feelings flow.
8) I’m obsessing over the same thing, over and over again. There is something about writing it down that allows us to let it go (see #5). When there is something I don’t want to have on my mind anymore, I give it to the page.
9) My dreams feel overwhelming. The flip-side of my typical fear – dreams. There is so much I want. So much I want to do and be. It can be overwhelming at times. In my journal, I can let my dreams run rampant. I can also narrow them down to the next action step. And I can remember again WHY I dream big, scary dreams.
10) I don’t have the time. Perhaps this is really the number one sign. If I don’t have the time to journal, what has my life become? If it is too full for that, than it is probably too full for me. For the woman I have chosen to become.
So I stop. I journal. I remember who I am. And I change what needs to be changed to bring me back to the page again soon.
Questions: Do you journal? Often? What benefits would you like to gain from journaling?