Keeping a Journal of Healing

Journaling

If you haven’t done so already, keeping a journal of your daily thoughts is a good idea.  We tend to think of journal entries as significant events taking place in our daily lives, which we interpret as having to contain long passages.  Your journal entries could consist of one sentence, a few paragraphs, or many pages.  Because most of us believe we live ordinary, mundane lives, we are inclined to wonder why we should even bother keeping a journal.  Well, I can think of several reasons:

  • Your journal entries are a historical record: Your historical record.  One day, you may wish to write a book about yourself for your children or grandchildren, so that they will know where you came from and how you came to be the way you are.  Are you going to remember every detail from your life when you are 60 or 70 and wanting to write an autobiography?  I can hardly recall what I did last week, let alone what I had for dinner yesterday.
  • Your journal entries are a way of helping you to work through personal issues.  Sometimes, we may not be fully aware of what exactly is causing us stress or unhappiness.  By verbosely attempting to state what is wrong and what is bothering you, you better understand the problem at hand.  The solution may elude you for quite a while, but understanding the problem is the first step towards solving it.  Sometimes even understanding exactly what the issue is could take a while.  It is important to keep writing and to keep trying to understand the issue at hand.  Writing helps you organize your thoughts and provides a window to help reflect on the past.

I will be discussing the second reason for keeping a journal, what I call the Journal of Healing.

Whenever we have personal issues, we may find that verbalizing our discourses to a friend is a healthy outlet towards releasing our inner pain.  Unfortunately, verbalizing can only get you so far, as we are apt to leave out crucial pieces of information, which we find greatly embarrassing, but which is needed to fully understand the depth of a problem.  Writing a journal helps us to fully actualize the problem, starting us on the path to healing.

Yet, some people may find it even harder yet to put to pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and document our personal issues and deeply uncomfortable thoughts.  For one thing, it forces us to confront our demons.  For another, we realize we have to find a solution to the problem, even if we may be unsure what that is.  Another reason is fear that someone read our journal, containing our most private and intimate thoughts.  Even if we are in private with zero chance of anyone else reading our most personal, most vulnerable, and most human thoughts, we still hesitate, for we fear that one day someone will come along and glimpse into the window of our soul, discovering our secrets.

With modern technology, it is easy to encrypt a document so that you are its only intended recipient.  Or, destroy through irrecoverable means your penned or electronically produced document.  Before we do that though, consider that long into the future when you have passed through this world that others may glimpse some great insight from reading your journal, to learn from your past mistakes, and to relate to you as humans want to relate to one another.  Think about how much more we have learned about the Holocaust from the perspective of a teenage girl in The Diary of Anne Frank.

The crucial objective we are trying to achieve through journaling is expressing coherently that which is bothering us.  Only by expressing the issue at hand can we start to understand what was eating us from the inside, slowly and insidiously.  It may take you only one entry.  It may take you several entries.  Sometimes, it may take many more before you are able to find the right combination of words to truly express the unpleasantness that is causing you much your grief and sorrow.

Journal of Ranting and Healing

Journal of Healing: Stressed ManThis entry section in your Journal of Healing is what I call the Rant section.  Sometimes, our friends and family may want to distance themselves from our problems.  Other times, we simply feel it is too personal to confide even in them.  In the Rant section, we have our outlet.  Just as prayer works by allowing its practitioner to articulate his issues, so also is the Rant section in performing a similar function.  Let out all your fear, anger, and frustration here as you start writing down what is bothering you.

With each entry, it is important to also include a Healing section, which states what you intend to do to solve the issue.  Intention is overly broad in this sense.  Intention in this context could simply include what you realized about yourself as you wrote.  It could be that you hit a wall and are uncertain what is causing this issue.  You admit you are angry.  It is alright to acknowledge your feelings.  At least you are taking responsibility for your own thoughts and circumstances rather than blaming the world for all that is wrong with your life.  Complaining for the sake of complaining plays right into the victim mentality and is a futile endeavor.  Taking action to right what is wrong is empowering.  Intention could also be an action item you will take to solve the issue, or at least make an attempt at solving it.

Thinking in the written language compels us to pinpoint the words we wish to use to express our problems, which causes coherency.  Because of this, a journal by its very nature is therapeutic.  Over time, the exact problem or issue will reveal itself to you.  As you journal more and more, you will eventually find the solution.  It may be something you promised yourself several months ago but failed to carry out.  Months later, we find ourselves completing a circuitous route towards the same result.  Somehow committing word to paper causes us to more likely commit to an action.  The same action verbalized lacks the same likelihood for its execution.

Journal of Healing

So, the next time you have something that is bothering you, even if you have a faint idea as to what it is, consider starting a Journal of Healing.  The answers are there on the blank page before you, just waiting for you to discover them.  Make it a consistent habit.  Have a Rant section, but also include a Healing section on what you intend to do to solve the issue.  After all, it is different from an ordinary journal—It’s the Journal of Healing.

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