It’s private and it’s anything you want it to be, but it better be for you and you alone — because that’s what makes it journaling, and not any other type of writing with a “for-others” agenda.
Journaling is an act of introspection, if done correctly
Journal entries can be like footprints into your past lives. They can form a continuous path into who you were and are becoming. They can form a portal to your inner world that links you to different aspects of who you are and can be.
You make the best out of this portal when you write honestly. When you are pretentious with your journaling, the portal gets diverted into false versions of yourself — and that’s not nearly as helpful as having direct destinations to the inner.*
To pave a clear path to your inner world and gain greater insights into your life, follow these 8 helpful steps to to unleash your journaling:
1) Let yourself complain, moan, and groan as loudly as you want to
If you can’t vent your feelings in the sanctity of your own private pages, then where can you? Do you think you can get by with just thinking the negative feelings away? You’re welcome to try, but it’s much healthier to integrate rather than segregate your emotional self.
2) Don’t censor your (insert socially undesirable trait here)-ness
Now, it’s not polite to be politically incorrect in public. But in private? Well, let’s just say, if you have a politically incorrect thought — suppressing it won’t work, so use your time in private to write it out in your journal. If you externalize it on paper then you can start to ask yourself why you had that thought in the first place, and take constructive steps to fix the problem.
3) Pour your heart out; follow your feelings
When you communicate with other people, logic usually beats out raw feeling and politeness usually stamps outspokenness. But when you communicate with yourself, anything goes. And it pays off to listen to those irrationals – you have to hear them out first before you can demystify them. Remember, just because you feel one way on a certain page doesn’t mean that that page alone defines who you are – it is just one aspect of you.
4) Let your consciousness stream
When writing a stream of consciousness, you write about whatever your attention latches onto. You could write about what you ate for dinner, to what you are wearing, to why you were upset that you couldn’t get the sale price on your shirt, to how your handwriting looks funny, to how you never could get the g’s to loop the way you want to, to how you now feel self-conscious on paper. The point is, there is no set direction of where your thoughts need to go. You surrender to wherever they might take you — and you will usually find that they take you someplace profound.
5) Don’t force words
Don’t waste time thinking about which is the best word to describe something. The more you analyze your word choice, the easier it is for outside influences (such as political correctness and logic) to dictate for you. Besides, even if you didn’t nail it with the right word — you can still remember what you were talking about when reading again later. And, the not-nailing-it can cue you in on some area in your life that may need more clarity.
6) Leave spelling errors alone — no need to edit, eh?
This follows #2-5. You are totlytitled to make up your own words and phrases as you see fit. And sometimes the subconscious speaks to you through grammatical errors or silly slips.
7) Don’t have an expectation of the end product
The worst thing you can do is write with the expectation of accomplishing some goal. Sure, you may write to capture a moment or record something before you forget it — but don’t put an expectation of how it should turn out, because when you unleash your journaling you accept it completely for what it is.
8) Don’t worry what someone reading would think
Who cares what someone else would think of you if they read your journal? They don’t know you — if they take one entry out of context from the whole collection of entries (that only reflects a part of the whole you) then they have no idea how to contextualize what they are reading anyway! And they’re snooping, so their motives are probably not to get more acquainted with the wholesomeness of you. By the way, if you fear snooping too much to unleash your journaling, then why journal at all?
When you unleash your journaling
When you unleash your journaling, you realize there is no beast in need of any taming. You find it easier to deal with your negative, nagging, immaturish feelings that normally have no place in proper face-to-face communication. You learn that they’re not so scary, and that writing about them validates them, and validates you. And that you need this validation to really introspect all that you were, are, and can be.
There are deep recesses of your (sub)consciousness — a wellspring of self-actualizing just waiting to be tapped into. Journaling is one way to loosen the chains that keep your wellspring hidden from you.
Can you imagine that? You might just be a pen or a keyboard away from delving inward for some serious self-actualizing!
If you use any other helpful hints to unleash your journaling potential, feel free to share them in the comments below.
*Except when you may need to write from a “false” self to become aware of that “false” self’s existence. Sometimes you need to get it “wrong” before you can see how it’s “wrong,” and then make it “right.”