31 Dec Journaling – an Important Tool for Change
Journaling, writing about ourselves and how we feel, might not come easily to many of us. However, there’s growing research to show that the process of journaling can be really helpful in managing intense emotions and states of mind, and beginning to really understand ourselves. We can reflect on how we feel, have a good rant (as no one else is seeing it, we can be as honest as we like!), begin to notice and really understand our habits, and get some distance from our thoughts.
The act of observing our experience, can give us a sense of space between ‘us’ and our thoughts, feelings or ‘symptoms’, over time giving us more of a sense of choice over what we do with them and how we react to them – whether we wrestle with them and try to avoid them, or whether we allow and accept them. We might notice our ‘triggers’ – the situations (either things happening in the world, or memories or thoughts in our heads) that trigger difficult states of mind, and when we do so, repeatedly, we start to get that all important third point perspective – the ‘see-er’ – the aspect of us that has a higher perspective, and that allows us to really ‘get’ ourselves, to act with self-compassion when we feel bad, and that can even help us to begin to choose a different reaction, eventually. And we might notice the things we don’t want to change, the things for which we feel grateful, which might sound a bit glib, but can be extremely important. Where there have been lots of difficult experiences earlier in life, our brains learn to inadvertently watch out for and attend to ‘negative’ events (a survival mechanism, to try to prevent bad things happening again). However, if left unchecked this can mean that we continue to only notice the negative, dismissing or not even registering the positive, so that life seems to continue in the same way. Deliberately bringing attention to what we like, are happy with, are grateful for, even if it sometimes is just our bed, can start to ‘rewire’ our brains – and journaling this can help even more with this rewiring.
So journaling isn’t a self-indulgent, wishy-washy pastime – it can be a really important vehicle for change – even changing our brains. And it can be a way of really getting to know ourselves, and if we don’t do that, who else can?