"This blog is an information mind dump from a retired counsellor, it is not an instruction manual to perfect mental health. It is a loosely organised series of topics that may resonate with some people, it may open a way for them to seek further information from a current practicing professional."
What to journal about
New to the whole journaling process?
To start with I suggest you journal about your feelings and your Dreams, both the dreams during sleep and during waking hours. Pour your plans, desires, your fears and your worries into your journal. Sometimes letting them out of the chaotic fear space of your mind and onto stark white paper helps you to process and maybe heal with them.Journaling 101
Journaling has a lot of scope. Journaling can be an important tool for self-development/self-management. Some people have a journal for business ideas, some journal their travels, others journal their emotional roller coaster, I have even seen someone who journaled their sexual thoughts and desires.
No matter the reason journaling helps you to organise your thoughts, emotions, experiences …all those things that are….you know… “Your Life”. But…. there are rules and limits to what journaling can do. It is not a magical cure-all. It does not replace the need for counsellors etc. It is a process that takes time and energy to work. Just having a journal does not help, you must use the journal, you must be honest to the process. (just a quick detour…. Some people are scared to be honest in their journals due to the fear that somebody, other than themselves, “may” read it. If this is your situation, you should read to the end.)
Journaling for self-development or self-discovery only works if you are honest. Otherwise, when you look back at your journal it will be of no help in understanding the journey you have undertaken to be who you are now. If you look at past entries and they seem a bit off, it could mean you were writing for an audience other than yourself. Think of your journal as a way of sitting yourself down and telling yourself whatever needs to be said. One individual I know, who is into Star Trek in a BIG way, calls his Journal a “Personal Log” See here if you do not understand the reference. https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Personal_logWritten Journals
The idea behind a “language based” journal as opposed to a graphic based journal is that in order to write something down, you first must take the chaos of your thinking and filter it through the rules of your language. Even if all you get is a list of words that are descriptive of how you feel, the journal entry does not need to have “proper” sentence structure, (After all you are not being marked by a schoolteacher (unless… you are a schoolteacher, yes school teachers journal too.)) as long as you can later look back on it and understand what you were feeling/thinking it will work. Once you have settled you may wish to follow up with an explanation of the circumstances or the “why” the list was created. This helps sort the events into a more logical understandable order which may be easier to process.
I advise people to Journal when they feel the need, unless there is specific aspects you are tracking like Anxiety levels, then at least once a day as a habit is good. If the entry on some days says “nothing to report” then so be it.
A graphic journal can be just for fun, it can be a tool to help your artistic development or a way of capturing the events of your life in a more “picturesque” way. It can be combined with a written language as well, you can draw and then describe how you felt, the situation/the place and time/ etc.. etc.. To some extent people have been using Instagram and Facebook to photo/video journal their own lives, (with varying degrees of honesty being employed), if it works …it works.
Continued in Part 2