Want to get better connected to your inner self? To access your deeper thoughts and unblock your emotion? Try journaling!

I have been journaling for two years now, and it’s like having a special friend. Someone who’s always there to listen. There is something very comforting about writing in the privacy of my own little world, safe between the covers of a book. Anything – and everything – can spill from my pen onto paper.

Journaling has given me reassurance, a sounding box for my fears or joys, and in many instances a “guiding voice” to lead me through difficult times. I only wish I’d known about it sooner!

In my younger days, I kept a diary where I recorded my thoughts (mostly romantic yearnings) as well as significant events. I wrote whenever I felt in the mood.

Journaling is different. It is done regularly, usually in periods of 15 to 20 minutes. You needn’t be a writer to journal. Anyone can do it!

In its first stage, journaling is a kind of personal “decluttering” – releasing the unresolved issues and emotions taking up your mental and emotional energy. Here’s an example:

October 2 – I am up and have a headache. I may have the flu after all. The floor has never been this dirty but I can’t bring myself to clean it. Back to work tomorrow and I’m not looking forward to it. So much drudgery. Why hasn’t he called? I think things are at an end between us but we both hesitate to make it final.

As you journal some more, you will notice your thoughts becoming clearer. Once you have expressed your mundane concerns, there’s room for ideas and even wisdom to come through. By asking specific questions, you are able to reach deeper within to find answers.

There is some controversy over handwriting journal entries versus keyboarding onto a screen. Although typing may be faster, I have found that writing by hand connects us in a more direct way to our subconscious. The thoughts that emerge have more clarity and are more profound.

Here’s an example of the guidance you can receive from a deeper part of yourself. This was written after I left the corporate workforce to become self-employed as a life coach and writer. I was in the process of setting up my new business (U-Unlimited) and about to give my FIRST public workshop, “Finding Your Mid-life Passion.”

Notice how I write about my problem and then ask a question to trigger advice.

Feeling tired, feeling overwhelmed, needing to make decisions for my new business before I’ve proven myself in the marketplace. And I wouldn’t even have gotten this far if I hadn’t given workshops at Alcan – I’d have no idea if I could do it. So much is happening at the moment, how do I get things to slow down?

This is the answer that flowed from my pen.

First of all, remember how well you did in front of an audience and tell yourself you will do this again. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to get everything going. You need to absorb the changes. The new business, the logo and the power and responsibility that come with it all are new to you. You need to SEE yourself in this role, helping people to connect with themselves, to follow what is in their hearts.

If you’re new to journaling, following are some basic guidelines. Remember, you don’t need to be a writer! This is a conversation that you’re having with yourself.

  1. Buy yourself an inexpensive, lined notebook.
  2. If possible, write in it at the same time every day (mornings often preferred).
  3. Write 15 minutes a day. Do this in longhand. Don’t stop to edit or censor – let everything out.
  4. Do not show your writing to anyone.
  5. After you’ve started to really listen to yourself, ask questions about your life. For example:
  • How should I handle my relationship with so-and-so?
  • What am I learning from this situation?
  • What do I need to feel more fulfilled?
  • What am I afraid of?

To journal effectively, you need to be willing to be totally honest with yourself. I have known people who couldn’t journal because of their reluctance to face certain issues in their lives. They knew that the truth would emerge on the page and then what would they do? Becoming clearer about your life comes with a responsibility. With the knowledge you have gained, you can choose to act or not. Pretending that problems don’t exist, though, is no longer an option.

If you are going through any kind of transition, journaling will be of great help in sorting through your thoughts and concerns and finding your direction.

In life’s trying moments, or even on your happiest days, a personal journal can keep you balanced and connected to your spirit. It has certainly done that for me.

Author's Bio: 

Thelma Mariano left the corporate workforce to follow her passions as life coach and writer. She is the founder of U-Unlimited and runs a Dream Achievers Program in Montreal. As a life coach, she helps people to align their life values with their interests and skills and to connect with their inner guidance. She also encourages and inspires others through her writing. For more information, visit www.u-unlimited.ca.