What is it about keeping a journal that makes it so beneficial?
I write or record a journal entry just about every single day. I’ve done it for years. In fact, as a habit it’s become self-perpetuating. I’m not sure I could stop even if I wanted to.
A journal is a lot of things, yet in the end, if you’re doing it right, it can be summarized in one word: truth.
You see, honesty is integral to the process of journaling.
I remember writing my first few journal entries. I was embarrassed. I was sloppy. I didn’t know how to communicate. Not to other people, certainly not to myself.
I would write superficial nothings, as if I were being watched by a room full of people. I wrote as if I were writing on MSN messenger (remember that?). I would even pop in a few smileys, just to make sure of not stepping on my own toes.
For some reason, though, I stuck to it. I kept writing. At first just whenever I remembered to. Soon enough, it became a habit. Now, self communication is integral to my sense of self.
When I think back to the time before I started keeping a journal, it’s hard to believe that I used to be so blocked, so inarticulate, so lost in triviality.
You can’t really love other people until you truly love yourself, and the same is true of communication. If you can’t articulate ideas, feelings, events, or ambitions to yourself, you can be sure that you can’t communicate them to others. As within, so without.
The act of keeping a daily journal is a practice. It’s a practice in communication with self. It’s a practice in finding the core of concepts, ideas, emotions and difficulties. It’s a practice of articulation.
I’ve filled hundreds of pages of soul-searching. Some of them contain inane navel-gazing, but more and more they seem to contain profound insights into what it means to be me. I keep a few full journals in a drawer at home. Others I’ve lost. One I burnt on a beach in South America.
To others, they may seem overly dramatic, even contentious. Maybe they seem pointless. But to me they have immeasurable value and vast meaning. Even if I hardly ever look through old journals, the mere fact that I wrote them, the hours of work behind them, the deep, surgical search for fulfilment, day after day, fill me with a sense of awe.
Truth is the key word when it comes to keeping a journal. You may be able to lie to others, but you always know when you’re lying to yourself. And it hurts all the more.
If you start a journal today, and just write, and you keep it up for a few weeks or months, you will realize how much you’ve been lying to yourself, and you will seek to find truth.
Truth heals. Truth is purely subjective. What you sense to be true is what’s important here.
By no means have I arrived at the end of the path of journaling. In fact, I think I’m just getting started. But it’s a fulfilling path, I can tell you that much. When you realize truth, your relationship to past, present and future changes. The more you manifest truth in your life, the better life will be.
Good luck on your journey.