Writing Daily In A Reflective Personal Journal

Writing daily in a reflective personal journal is therapeutic; learn why.

Dear Diary, There's a new boy in school, I hope he'll notice me......

Remember those days? The diaries with lock and key designed to keep secrets safe from prying eyes of little brothers. Then, writing a diary or journal was a way to share confidences with a trusted friend, the written page.

Now, keeping a journal is an answer to life's ups and downs.

History students still study the diaries of Samuel Pepys to learn about 17th century European life. The Diary of Anne Frank is a lesson in life and love during the worst of human times. The diaries of Anais Nin are for mature eyes only! What if you are not a wealthy landowner, historical figure or a writer looking for publication; why should you write a journal? What will keeping a diary do for you?

Unlike the journals of ladies of the house from up to two centuries ago, women (and men) of today feel little need to outline household duties and expenses in a daily diary. Today it is used for more than a record of our lives. Journaling allows each of us to write our thoughts, hopes, dreams and fears down on paper. This can crystallize our positive emotions and release the negative ones.

Karen is a child abuse survivor, but even after therapy she found confrontation and daily stressors overwhelming. Three jobs in under two years was just one outcome of her need to run away from situations where she felt out of control. Under the advice of her therapist, Karen started writing in a journal. A week or more might go by without an entry. There would be a day when Karen would come home from work, sit down and write until her frustrations and fears were manageable, in her own eyes. She would write letters to the bullies at work, complaints about management and close her entries with the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the courage to change the things I can, the ability to accept the things I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Other journal writers find the answers to questions. Should I go back to school? Do I need another job? How can I make my marriage satisfying? Writing down the questions and then listing possible answers can help individuals to explore solutions.

Feeling overwhelmed by life? Try writing down a list of the individual difficulties. Then list possible ways to help yourself. For example:

1 - Ex-husband withholds child support. Possible solutions: Call a lawyer, contact local children's services for free information.

2 - Career is stalled. Possible solutions: Go back to school? Ask for promotion? Start own business?

Each of the possible solutions may lead to more journaling to explore the steps needed to achieve the new goal.

Psychologists and motivational speakers alike have long promoted writing down goals and dreams, then repeating them as daily affirmations. Writing steps on how to achieve your goals is part of this process. Open the journal and write: Go back to school. Nobody believes that writing that will make it happen, but once the decision is made, the next steps might read like: visit local universities and talk to counselors, get a copy of high school or college transcript, investigate majors, review finances, apply to college, apply for financial aid. A major life change like switching careers can be overwhelming, but when it's broken down into two or three big steps, and those are broken down into smaller steps, it suddenly becomes a viable option. You've taken back control of part of your life.

While stress and difficulties never go away entirely, having a journal as a tool and the skill of writing out hopes and anxieties can increase mental health for the modern diarist.

© High Speed Ventures 2011