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5 Reasons to Get into Journaling

Updated: Feb 7, 2022

Have you ever thought, "Why bother? No-one ever listens to me anyway," and stopped yourself from speaking up?

Have you ever thought that your ideas were too way-out to be accepted by others? Maybe they were even too crazy, for you to entertain them past the initial brain-spark.

I remember when I was aged about 19, and went to Sydney to live. For a happy while, I lived with my sister, brother-in-law, and their beautiful baby daughter (who, incidentally, has grown into an equally beautiful young woman). My father suggested I move to a girls' hostel in Greenwich, so I could meet some new friends, and I found myself a room to share with an awesome girl who was never there! My room was at the top of the stairs, midway between floors, and my absent roomy was very popular.

That move was great, because all the girls who came looking for my room-mate, stopped by and chatted with me. I had a book on the shelf above my bed, by Linda Goodman (called, "Love Signs"). It had a striking blue cover with big red love hearts on the spine and front, so girls would visit to ask me about astrological compatibility. It was a fine way to meet friends.

Although I was surrounded by young women my own age, I felt utterly lost. I was incredibly lonely. Despite having a good job, going out, and having fun with my new buddies, and even meeting some pretty handsome guys, I felt like a total failure. Instead of telling a friend how I felt, I wrote it all down in my journal.

I had started writing in old unused school books, just after I finished high school. I would write the stuff that happened, the stuff that didn't happen, and how I felt about it.

One of the great things about keeping a journal, is that you can say everything you feel, without feeling like you're whinging to everyone (or keeping it all trapped inside).

There's no chance of someone judging you, or telling you to stop whining!

A while after moving to Stella Maris Hostel for Catholic Country Girls, I met a friend, and she invited me to an Antioch weekend. Antioch (named after a place mentioned in the Bible) was a Catholic youth group. I hated being there, because I felt so emotionally wrought. But a new thing happened to me ...

I discovered that I really liked to explore the stories in the New Testament, and how Jesus' life could be important to me. I'd been on retreat before, and loved the reflection times. Now, at Antioch meetings, I had the chance to play the priest, as it were. We would each have a turn at reading a passage, and (with our pastor priest) we'd develop a reflection session to deliver to the rest of the group. It was my first taste of delivering visualisations, and I loved it.

Because I learned to reflect in my journal, I discovered a deeper, more profound love of spirituality and purpose. So you could say that a second great thing about keeping a journal, is that growing ability to reflect.

Now, it's not all about romantic heartache or religious illumination.

Once I started studying biology at university, I was instructed to maintain a laboratory journal. This was more structured than my private journals (which I only wrote in, when I felt moved to). My lab journal was all about proof of intellectual property. You see, if you have a great idea, and someone steals your idea, you have no recourse unless you provide proof that you were the real - first - genius. A lab journal has numbered pages, no blank lines, and signatures for every day - yours and your supervisor's. I wasn't as strict as I should have been, but I most certainly came up with a number of mental health research projects, and I did action some. Plus ... a former colleague actually did try to steal one of my ideas and use it as her own!

So, a third use for a journal is to show that you came up with great ideas first!

Another terrific use for a journal, is to figure stuff out. This might be stuff that you are studying (yes, a great use!), or it could be stuff that you are just curious about. If you are trying to understand a concept, you can try drawing it in your journal as a flow-chart or a mind-map. Find the sequence of events and streamline the process. Develop the system that works best.

There, you have a fourth use for a journal - engineering!

Have you purchased [RE]BIRTH: Self-Transformation over Tea and Tarot? If you have (thank you) ... you will know that in it, I encourage you to draw the images that come to mind as you read the book. This is a form of art therapy, as well as mindfulness. You also give your psyche time to reflect, consciously and unconsciously, on what your life purpose is and your place in your world. You take time to allow the lessons of your relationships to come to you, in safety and quiet; free of shame and guilt; free of judgment and criticism (including, from yourself).

Your journal could be full of pictures, of watercolours and line drawings. You might use textas, pastels, crayons; you could paint glitter on some parts, or add small shells. What you do with your [RE]BIRTH journal is up to you, but I know that you can make it beautiful. You can make it a reflection of what is in your heart and mind, through what you do with your hands - and that's a fantastic way to get real and authentic (head=heart=hands).

It doesn't have to be a portfolio of pictures (unless you want it to be). It could be a collection of short stories. I was looking through my lovely journal yesterday, and found a reflection on the story of Judas. At the end of my figuring out his true place in Jesus' life, I wrote my own version of his story in his voice. I'm now thinking about publishing the whole thing as a book! I thought it was pretty good!

A book decorated with orange autumn leaves and a blue wren

A fifth use, then, is to create - and maybe even to find your purpose in life.

Now, I've only suggested 5 uses for journals:

  1. To articulate your feelings and make sense of them

  2. To reflect on something that is important to you

  3. To prove your ingenuity and record the resources for making your inspiration a reality

  4. To make sense of something that confuses you or makes you curious

  5. To create

I bet you could think of more. But I think, more than anything, writing in a journal helps you to make sense of who you are, and why you are here in this world now.

Writing in a journal helps you to find the words to express yourself; so when you do speak up, you speak with self-assurance and wisdom.

It allows you to see the other players in your life's theatre as individuals with different experiences and perspectives (and agendas); and you can understand what motivates them, just that little bit more.

Sure, writing in a journal is not the same as telling a trusted confidante what you need to share - and this is something to do when you are able to, and when you feel calm. But writing what you want to say in your journal first, will help you to find your way to saying it all.

Sometimes, we're not able to tell someone how we feel. Maybe, they have moved on, into another relationship. Maybe, they have passed on. Maybe, they don't seem to remember us, when we still have such strong memories of them. Writing to that person in our journal can help us to say what is in our heart.


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