Last summer as we were cleaning out the garage attic, I found some old journal that I wrote in high school. It was funny looking through them as I don’t remember hardly any of the things that I wrote down. I remember at that time thinking these memories would be so memorable (spoiler: they weren’t!). I also love how 15-year-old me would start all letters and journal entries at that age, “Hey! How are you? I’m doing well.” Not sure why I felt it necessary to answer my own question-to myself.
I also remember at one point that I stopped journaling altogether because when I would reread them, I had no recollection of the events I journaled about. And those events felt very monumental at the time. Over the last several years, I’ve started journaling again because I have a new love for it, and it serves an entirely different purpose for me now. As a highly sensitive person, I understand how important it is for me to process things through my writing. It’s not profound in anyway, it’s just simply away for me to get out of my head and let things go. One of the reasons it’s so helpful for me is that I’m an external processor.
For the most part, I think people fall into 2 categories of how they figure things out. They’re either:
external processors-people think all the way through a problem, then tell you the solution
internal processors-people need to talk it through several times, usually out loud, and each time they talk it through, they find a little of the solution to the problem
Here are 2 of my favorite ways to journal (I’ve shared these before):
· Set a timer for 3 minutes and write about the thing that I need to process and once the time goes off, I stop
· Draw a big circle on a page and on the outside write: “Here’s what I know about…” Then I spend about 15 minutes journaling through whatever I’m trying to work through.
A few years ago, I had one of the most profound types of journaling ever. It gave me some great insight. I journaled every day for 15 minutes on a specific topic for 21 days. From a very early age, I felt a deep sense of rejection anytime someone gave me feedback, correction or told me no (I think some of this is due to being highly sensitive). This had a big impact on different relationships throughout my life, but specifically in friendships. So, I spent 21 days journaling specifically about rejection and trying to remember all of the ways that I felt rejected from as far back as I can remember. I remember around day 10, I gained some profound insight into the idea of “rejection” from others. While I won’t share everything I learned because it was a very personal journey, what I will share is that I realized in a deep and meaningful way that when I felt rejected by friends it was more about them and their journey at that point in time than it was about me. I realized that almost all of those times I felt rejected, it protected me. It protected me from someone else’s emotional manipulation or from being in a relationship that left me drained rather than energized. As a result, I now have a completely different relationship with rejection, and as a direct result, friendships/relationships are different.
So here are the ways I’ve personally benefited from journaling:
· Gives space for recording creative ideas
· A place to keep track of goals, wishes or dreams
· A place for buckets lists
· A place for “to do” lists
· A space for organizing or planning
· A space to remember important events
· A place to write out prayers and favorite Scripture verses
· Reduces negative emotions
· Increases self-awareness
· Increases creativity
I keep 2 types of journals going at all times and mostly because I like to keep these things separate. I keep one for processing feelings and events that are difficult or that I’m trying to work through. I found a cheap journal so that I can rip out pages if I want, or I can throw it away when I’m done. And then, I have a more expensive one from Amazon that I love, you can find the link here, (I’m not an affiliate for Amazon so I don’t get any money if you use this link!), and I use this one for my Scripture and Contemplative Prayers. If you’re not sure if journaling is right for you or not sure what type of journal to start, here are a few ideas that might help:
· Bullet journaling
· Vision journals
· Prayer journal
· Journal with prompts
· Daily reflection (AM or PM)
· 1-year or 5-year journals
· One line a day
· Emotional healing journals
· Personal development journals
· Parenting journals (recording important events or memories)
· Vacation journals (a record of family vacations)
· Bucket lists
· Travel planning
I can truly say that journaling rewires my brain. It gives me space to figure things out in a safe way, it helps me give words to what I’m feeling and helps give me clarity when I notice I’m stuck. I hope you’ll try one of these ways to journal so you can figure out if journaling is right for you. I’m also very excited to announce that I’ll be doing a 21-day journaling challenge in the month of January (much like my own personal one that I mentioned above), and I hope you’ll join us! I’ll have all the details next week on the blog!
I hope this explanation of journaling helps you understand how journaling can rewire your brain. If you need more help understanding the HSP trait, please feel free to contact me at 317.496.0456 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to hear what is happening and help you find the right fit for counseling. If you are looking for help with depression, anxiety, trauma or behavioral concerns, you can read more about how I can help at my website peacefamilycounseling.com