What do you usually write about? Is it a required working paper, a business report, a structured essay, or simply your spontaneous thoughts? What effect does the writing process have on you?
As you think on the answers to these questions, let me shift your attention to the last type of writing I asked about: putting on paper your spontaneous thoughts. This is just a small piece of what you can do with journaling. You can write down memories, insights, feelings, express attitudes, plans and reactions.
Journaling can seem at first as a child-like habit, but I think that it can be among your best adult companions. Imagine it like your best friend, whom you can tell your thoughts and feelings and be listened to. It is a friend that not only listens, but also inspires, implicitly asking you to pour more of yourself in those pages, up to the point that it makes you feel better, and even heals.
Journaling as a source of inspiration for YOU!
Journaling per se is not a modern invention. It has been around from the very first records of the ancient civilizations, such as in Egypt or Mesopotamia. The functionality of journaling has been evolving instead. Initially, it served purely pragmatic functions such as accounting, demographics, or even preserving history. Later on, in more modern times, it also began to be used for personal mental health healing. The concept of reflective writing and writing therapy began developing.
Miriam Kuznets, a Texas-based psychotherapist, says that writing can be more tangible or concrete than talking. The best part is that you can also do it while you are alone, without feeling awkward. You can express all your feelings, take out your negative emotions and eventually reflect on yourself.
Each person has his or her own writing style. For example, sometimes, I would just write down just questions that come to my mind. I do not need to have their answers in my head, because I know that by solely writing the questions down, the answers might start to appear. They may even be hiding among all the questions. This is how reflection occurs: writing down all the information we have about ourselves, feelings, dilemmas, and then looking at them and thinking, as we try to make sense of ourselves.
Even if I do not get ultimate answers all the time, I have come to discover that the process of writing is the one that matters. Hence, journaling becomes more than just a recording tool, it becomes a healing one and inspires my next actions. You can try it out! There is only one pre-condition for it to be successful though: be honest to yourself and to what you write!
Journaling as an awakening snowball with a legacy!
Sharing experiences with others is one of the best ways to learn, but also to be inspired. The chances are that we end up finding a piece of ourselves in the writings we read. The more personal these writings are, the more we identify with them. And what piece of writing can be more personal than a journal? An honest journal is always attracting a lot of readers, who ultimately realize that they are not alone in what they are feeling or going through.
“Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” is one of the most famous published diaries at a global scale. While reading it, I found the words of an innocent child, who grows pre-maturely due to harsh circumstances. She is able to write with such beautiful eloquent words, which tell the truth to the world about the Nazi monstrosities.
“Writing in a diary is a really strange experience for someone like me. Not only because I’ve never written anything before, but also because it seems to me that later on neither I nor anyone else will be interested in the musings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl. Oh well, it doesn’t matter. I feel like writing, and I have an even greater need to get all kinds of things off my chest.” , Anne writes.
Little did she know that this diary would inspire so many others for the ages to come. She could not foresee that it would make a difference for 150 students coming from different races and backgrounds in the 90s in the US, it a context of the LA Riots, gang violence, and racial discrimination in the first post-school segregation years.
Their high school teacher Ms. Erin Gruwell, introduced them to the Anne Frank Diary and it definitely impressed them, as this little girl had suffered a lot from social injustices at the time. They identified themselves with her and ultimately, wrote down pieces of their own stories, which later on came to be published as “The Freedom Writers” book. In addition, the process of writing also increased their self confidence and made them realize about the commonalities they all had among each other, regardless of their race or minority group.
So, ultimately journaling can have a more profound impact than you imagine. It cannot only heal you personally, and become your best friend, but it can also inspire others, having that snowball effect such as in the case of Anne Frank and The Freedom Writers. Journaling can leave a legacy, making your memories immortal for you and for other generations.
Do you already practice journaling? How has it worked out for you? Feel free to share your experience through the comments below.