Creativity, Self Empowerment

How journaling can change your life

I’ve been journaling since I was ten years old, but it wasn’t until I committed to a regular journaling practice that things in my life began to really shift.

I’ve maintained that practice for four years now and in that time a lot has changed in my life. I don’t think it is a coincidence that these positive changes have happened since I’ve been journaling consistently.

In fact, my experience has shown me that regular journaling is one of the best tools we can use to transform our lives.

It might sound a bit too easy, but it’s true: anyone can use their journaling practice to create positive changes, overcome fear and bring their dreams to life.

Early on in my journaling practice I noticed some pretty massive changes in my life. In the space of two years, the following things happened:

  • I’ve begun and maintained a creative practice, including making and sharing my art
  • I’ve left a full-time job that was slowly sucking the life out of me
  • I’m more at peace and happier than I have been in a long time (as someone who has been through many depressive episodes in her life, I’ve not even been close to feeling that way since developing my journaling habit)
  • My relationship with my partner has improved dramatically (as a side note, he proposed to me shortly after I began my journaling practice, which I also do not think is a coincidence)
  • I’ve started and maintained a writing practice through a blog, something I’ve wanted to do for years
  • My partner and I have made our tiny house dream a reality – building our own house together after years of talking about it
  • I’ve created an online business using my writing, teaching and coaching skills
  • My partner and I have found a way to purchase our dream property and move to the countryside

In short: many of my long-term dreams have become a reality.

How is this possible? What is it about journaling, the simple act of writing down our thoughts and feelings regularly, that has allowed my life to change in such dramatic ways?

It comes down to a few simple factors.

Getting clear

Each morning when I open my journal to write, I find myself writing about what’s happening in my life: what I’m doing, how things are going, what’s working and what’s not.

I write about the things I dream of, what I hope for, what I long for.

This is what happens when you journal regularly: each and every day you show up to the page, you refine and clarify exactly how you want your life to look as you bring into your awareness the things that are and aren’t working in your life as it is.

You also get clear about the things standing between you and the life you want: journaling encourages you to dig deep so that you can uncover your doubts, worries and fears.

Before long, it becomes clear what it is that you want and what it is that is standing in your way.

It takes honesty and courage to get clear, but the more regularly you journal, the more clarity you will get.

  • Try this: make lists of the following:
    • What’s working in my life
    • What isn’t working in my life
    • What I want my life to look like
    • What I long for

Reread these lists as you journal over the coming days.

Connecting

Some believe that journaling, like meditation and other spiritual practices, allows you to connect with the divine or a greater power than yourself. Others believe that journaling allows you to connect with your own higher self, a source of inner wisdom. Some believe these two are the same thing.

God, inner wisdom, the universe, the divine… call it what you like, but something magical happens when you show up to the page often enough. You open up a channel to a higher source of wisdom, faith and courage to which you wouldn’t normally have access.

When you journal regularly, this connection is strengthened and can become a valuable source of guidance. This connection allows for inspiration. It helps you to feel strong and courageous. It reminds you to have faith even when you might falter.

Through this connection to something bigger, you can often find the answers you seek. By asking questions in your journal and being open, answers will come.

Fostering a daily connection with our highest and wisest self can only be a good thing.

  • Try this: take some quiet time alone with your journal. Decide how you would best like to address the source of higher wisdom you seek (e.g. God, inner self, universe, divine, etc). Then, write to this source asking a question you want the answers to. Be clear, direct and honest. Once you have written your question, take a moment to pause and sit in silence. Whatever comes to mind, write this down. This is the response. Be open to whatever you hear and allow it to come freely.

Overcoming resistance

So you get clear about what you want, you find the answers and guidance you need, but what about actually taking steps to make things happen?

The journal is a powerful tool to help you overcome resistance. Resistance is usually just fear disguised as procrastination, excuses, distractions, perfectionism, and other similar states.

Resistance is usually present when doing something new, making a change, or stepping out of your comfort zone in any way. Resistance is the reason so many wonderful dreams don’t become reality.

But I have found the fastest way to kill resistance is to expose it. Journal about it. Get honest and let it all out.

Why? Because when you write down your fears, when you put them into words and onto paper, they lose their power. They are no longer these big scary ideas floating around in your mind – they are mere sentences and words. And most of the time, you will see that they aren’t that scary after all.

  • Try this: in your journal, answer this question: what is stopping you from creating a life you love? Write honestly and let all your fears pour out onto the page. Don’t worry if they sound silly; just write whatever it is that is bothering you. When you have finished, write an affirmation encouraging yourself to be bold.

Staying in alignment

The daily act of writing means that you are regularly checking in with yourself. Instead of pushing through busy days without a moment to stop and think, the act of journaling forces you to slow down and reflect. It brings awareness to your life.

Each day that I show up to my journal and complain about something that is not working in my life is a reminder that I’m not doing enough of the things that bring me joy, that are taking my closer to my dreams.

Journaling daily – checking in with yourself emotionally, mentally, spiritually on a regular basis – can help you to stay on track.

Why? Because it highlights areas of incongruity in your life. You may journal about how much you hate being in debt but then in the same entry write about how you love shopping. What may not be obvious in your daily life can be easily highlighted when you write it down – and especially so when you write it down often.

Journaling regularly reminds you of your goals and values and brings awareness to your thoughts and actions. Slowly but surely, the two will come into alignment and, as long as you keep journaling, they will stay that way.

  • Try this: for the next week, write every day for 15 minutes at the same time. Use this time to check in with yourself emotionally, mentally, spiritually. How are you feeling? What is on your mind? What is your current energy? Note down anything else you want to.

I’m not the same person I was a year ago and it’s all because I pick up my pen to write and create for 30 minutes each day.

Why not give it a try?

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Creativity

Three simple journaling prompts for when you’re stuck

Many of us want to create a regular journaling routine but worry about what to say. Journaling prompts can help with this.

We know that journaling regularly can create amazing life changes, but where do we start? Do we just talk about our day? Even that can get a bit boring.

As someone who journals every day without fail, I’ve come up with a few starters that help me when facing the blank page.

I prefer to let me words flow naturally but when I find myself feeling stuck, I turn to these simple journaling prompts.

Sometimes the words come quickly and easily and I can write for hours. Other times I write the date and find my mind drifting off to think about what’s for dinner. In these moments, I find the following simple journaling prompts to be invaluable. They always lead me to something.

1. Right now…

Take a deep breath and take in your surroundings. Use all your physical senses – what do you see, smell, hear, taste, feel? It might be the sound of birds outside, the smell of incense, the bitter taste of coffee, the sound of your pen as it moves across the page, the feel of the chair beneath you.

Then add in emotions and other non-physical senses. How are you feeling internally?

Just write in stream-of-consciousness, in whatever order things come to you. There are no rules, there is no correct way to do this. It is simply a ‘way in’.

A lot of the time when I start with this prompt other things will come up and I will simply follow them. It can lead to hours of writing, simply by getting the pen moving and warming up. But other times I don’t get much further than ‘right now’, and that’s ok too. Let it happen however it wants to.

2. I wish…

This is one of my favourites. It gets me excited thinking about the future, about what could be. It gets me thinking about what I’m working towards. Sometimes, it simply acts as a little escape from my daily life – a chance to dream big and imagine a different reality.

Either way, it can have a positive effect because it gets us focusing on what we do want, rather than what we don’t want. The more we focus on what we do want in our lives, the more likely we are to draw it towards ourselves.

You can be serious with this one and write down what you really want to work towards, or you can be playful and imagine more outlandish possibilities. Do what feels right for you in the moment.

3. I don’t want to write about…

Oftentimes when we are facing the blank page and feeling stuck, it’s because we are avoiding writing about something. There might be an issue at work, a nagging health problem, a tense situation at home.

Whatever it is, I can guarantee that you will feel better writing about it. This may not happen immediately – it might take several sessions of coming back to the page – but ultimately, I always feel better for facing something rather than avoiding it.

Start simply. If there are several things you’re avoiding, write a bullet-pointed list. Then pick one and free write about this. Set a timer if that helps. Even 15 minutes of getting it all out can be therapeutic.

A lot of the time we find that actually the thing we have built up so big in our minds is not really that big at all. By seeing it down on the page, it takes some of the power away. Not only that, but solutions can come a lot more easily when it’s down on the page.

*  *  *

I can’t emphasise enough the benefits of showing up to the page even if you feel like you’ve got nothing to say. The positives come from building a creative routine, and keeping that channel to your inner self open.

Next time you’re feeling stuck, try one of these simple journaling prompts to get you going.

Happy journaling!