Over the past few months, I’ve been in full-on “start up mode” as I like to call it – basically just being a workaholic and doing nothing of note besides.
It’s why I haven’t really posted a lot of anything on here, but while there’s plenty I’ll likely discuss in the future, for now I’d like to talk about a perspective shift I’ve had about journaling.
I used to hate journaling – throughout my life, not just as a kid. Out of the blue, I decided to start journaling on the second of January this year and haven’t stopped since. Still do it nearly every day, a little while after getting up each morning.
Here’s what I’ve discovered about journaling:
My Old Thoughts on Journaling
- It’s where you just spew out all your thoughts in a ramble.
- It’s not very useful for anything.
- You probably won’t read it back and so there’s no real point in doing it.
- It looks messy if I hand write, and so it’s better to type journal entries out.
- Typing out journal entries is pointless when you have a blog you could be blogging on.
Yeah, not the best impression of journal writing.
My New Thoughts on Journaling
- Journaling is more useful when you’re not just spewing out ramblings.
Part of what I’ve found is that journaling’s ability to make you slow down and analyze your thoughts is what makes it helpful. I think in rambles throughout the day, I don’t need more of that when journaling.
- Journaling can be great for self-improvement because it can make you more self-aware.
The whole point isn’t just to jot down your thoughts and emotions exactly as you’re feeling them. It’s so you can reflect on them as you’re writing them down. Even just a little.
- Even if you don’t read back your journal entries, writing them can be very useful.
The act of journaling itself can be very beneficial, as it can force you to reflect on things you otherwise wouldn’t; identify causes of emotions you otherwise wouldn’t have spotted. It can make you notice patterns in your behaviour and emotional ups and downs, not because you read back what you wrote and discovered these things when analyzing journal entries, but just because by writing things down, you’re likely to be thinking more about them in the first place.
- It’s probably better to write journal entries by hand.
I’m starting go feel like it’s more useful if you hand write journal entries, even if it’s messy, because it forces you to slow down your thoughts and concentrate on what you’re putting down on paper. If something isn’t that important to you, it’s not going to make it into the entry, versus with typing (at the speed I type at least), I’m likely to end up typing out an entire thought ramble, useless thoughts and all, which is less helpful than concentrating on the important things.
- Blogging and journaling are completely different.
I care about what I write up when it comes to a blog post. Even in the Live Journal days, people’s thoughts were way more coherent when they published them online (even anonymously) than I think they ever would be if people just wrote for themselves privately. Writing privately, you get to say what you want, analyze yourself more critically, and I feel like you end up writing more “normal”/banal things to write down if you’re just journaling for yourself. It’s okay to write about those things, actually it’s probably good for you to get them out, but you likely won’t write about them if you have an audience.
So anyway, time to get on to how journaling has helped me specifically –
How Journaling Has Helped Me Over the Past 2 Months
Over the past months, journaling has helped me:
- Identify downward mood swings when they first start.
This, I’m hoping, will eventually help me be able to stop them in the future, though I’m not there yet. If I catch them in time, I can do things like relax more, take a day off, spend more time doing things I love, etc. so that I won’t end up spiraling into a worse mood (something I do quite often).
- Get out my redundant emotions on paper so I don’t repeat myself (as much) to others.
My mother repeats herself a lot, not just because she thinks it will help others to remember what she’s said, but also because it helps her reaffirm for herself. This has always driven me nuts about her, but unfortunately for me, I seem to have the rambling & repeating gene, and I also seem to need to repeat in order to reaffirm things in my head. Better to do this on paper than out loud to another person – as it will drive them a lot less nuts (poor Thomas!).
- Become a little more realistically positive about recurrent frustrations.
I’m not a positive person – really am not. But it seems that after some time of writing negatively about the same frustrations I’ve been down about for a while, something just clicked and I wrote a post or two purely trying to encourage myself. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still a Debbie Downer in my journal entries, but if this indicates eventually I’ll get a little more realistically positive over the long run journaling, I’ll take it, because I do need to learn how not to be so hard on myself.
- Reading posts back can be quite encouraging as it shows progression.
While I don’t usually read my journal entries back, I did this morning before writing this post. Obviously, a lot of the things I’ve been struggling with haven’t changed too much (it’s only been a couple months after all!), but seeing there has been visible progression in even just these couple months (and there has been!) is encouraging as hell.
Now, do I think I’ll be journaling forever? Probably not. I’m a slacker and so I’ll probably stop eventually. But my perspective on it certainly has changed, and during times when I’m pushing myself to grow and work better and harder, I do think journaling will be a part of my daily routine.