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Journaling is a foundational practice for developing self-awareness. There are so many ideas on journaling but the most important part is the reflection. Journaling is about taking apart an event, evaluating and judging your behavior, then deciding how you want to show up the next time.
Processing our thoughts through journaling, rather than pondering or meditation, gives us a new angle to evaluate a situation. When writing or drawing out an event or interaction, we’re able to fully evaluate how we showed up and how we perceived others showing up. Writing and drawing require a kind of linear logic that keeps us from skipping steps.
When we take the time to process our feelings and needs, we’re better able to communicate with loved ones. A journaling practice is a great way to build self-awareness and work toward setting healthy boundaries.
Tools of the Trade
To get started, you’ll need a few tools. Everyone journals differently, so this is a very personal step. Take time to think about how you want to process your emotional events. Think about what feels natural and comfortable for you.
And if you’re looking for journaling examples, sign up to my weekly newsletter where I offer journal prompts and recommendations to get you started.
Tools of journaling:
- traditional journal notebook with pen or pencil
- single sheet paper & pen or pencil [this can be burned or soaked daily for those who don’t want records of processing their thoughts]
- Google docs, notepad, Word, or other word processing programs
- e journaling or online journal
- notes in your phone
- text messages or emails to yourself
Pathways to Process
Writing out our experience doesn’t have to come in the form of a story. Art journaling is another option. Sometimes all we need are bullet points to make a decision. If you try one way and it doesn’t help, try another. A journaling practice is just that, practice.
Here are a few examples of how you can journal to reprocess situations that help you develop a clearer sense of self:
- thought free flow
- bullet points
- bubble map or mind map
- draw scenes/pictures
- scribble/color feelings
Expand the Experience
Reprocessing our experiences can sometimes be about thinking and sometimes about feeling. Incorporating tactile experiences helps make journaling feel good as we work through our discoveries. Some examples:
- using markers, crayons, highlighters, ballpoint pens, gel pens, or pencils of different colors & sizes
- writing on printer paper, notebook paper, construction paper, or card stock
- adding stickers, stamps, sticky notes, or different materials
- allowing aesthetics to be considered as part of your journal time
Now that I’ve given you this quick journaling how-to, with tools, processes, and methods, you’re ready to get started! Journaling isn’t like the gym where you lose progress if you stop. It’s like riding a bike, you may feel wobbly when you start but the lessons are always there. When you know how to access emotional awareness, it’s all about returning to the basics.