On my ninth birthday, my grandmother gave me my first diary. It bore no resemblance to the glossy pink notebooks with tiny gold keys owned by other girls my age. It was a hardcover book with dark green cloth binding and the word “Records” on the cover. Inside were lined pages. The book felt serious to me. It was an unusual diary for a young girl, and even as a child I could see that, though I didn’t question it. I was enthralled the moment I set eyes on it, like I was when I saw my first bicycle. I inherently understood that they were both vehicles to my freedom.
Unknown to me at the time, my grandmother had offered me a life jacket in the form of a green record keeper. Over the next thirty years, I filled dozens of notebooks, bearing witness to my joy and suffering and inviting the higher wisdom that invariably showed up on my page. I am confident that my journals saved my life many times over. They also provided me with an unobserved space to learn how to write.
These days, as I navigate through one of life’s stickier turnstiles, I’m finding myself in a journaling renaissance, amazed by the power and clarity I am accessing through my notebook.
I know that expressive writing has been scientifically proven to yield tangible results, from the physiological to the emotional, but it’s another thing to see it in action.
All of this makes we want to send a huge call-out to all the women in my community who don’t already journal! There is so much to be gained through this practice.
Here are just a few benefits:
- Seeing our thoughts clearly on the page helps to calm the anxious mind by listening to it, the same way that talking to a trusted friend can be supportive.
- When faced with a difficult decision, being able to review our thoughts on the matter over the course of months or years helps to ground the decision with the reality of our experience.
- When exploring an issue from a free-flow space, a wise voice often emerges with perspective and insight into our core truths.
- Writing with only ourselves as audience can be completely freeing and so supportive to our growth as writers.
- Reading through our journals can help us to notice repetitive thought/life patterns, so that we can make changes for our better good.
This wonderful article in Positive Psychology by Jeremy Sutton goes into depth about how and why journal writing can be helpful for issues from anxiety and depression to recovery from addiction and PTSD. It includes journaling prompts and how-tos.