When I was a little girl, I used to keep a pretty diary with a lock and key that my mom bought for me. It was a place where I wrote what was going on in third-grade romantic relationships: who liked who and who was playing “show and tell” in the classroom closet with a boy. I also wrote my feelings about teachers and family.
When I was in high school, I kept a notebook full of my teenage explorations with marijuana, sex and skipping class to explore Manhattan’s East Village. My parents found it and kept it for weeks, maybe even months. They didn’t know which entries were my dreams or my reality. We never had a conversation. I thought it was a brutal betrayal of my right to have my own thoughts, fantasies and dreams.
By the time I was eighteen, I was pushed into a marriage. By then, I was smart enough to protect my personal thoughts while I worked through them. I did secretarial work at the time and kept an unlocked diary in short-hand that drove my then-husband into a rage. Ten years later, my second husband wanted me to destroy my old high school diary that had been sitting dusty in a storage bin for years. I complied. I wasn’t attached to it. It was just taking up space. By then, I had a new journal that I wrote in a few times a year. I don’t know when that last journal disappeared. I wouldn’t be surprised if an ex-lover decided to make it his own. I’m always fascinated by men’s desire to know and judge what goes on inside my head. The funny thing is, I’m such an open and honest person, you could just ask me if you want to know something. And, for the record, I’ve never cheated in a relationship although I’ve had a number of jealous partners.
It wasn’t until Christmas of 2015 when a good friend gifted me the Live in Wonder journal by Eric Saperston that I experienced the power of journaling prompts. Prior to that, I just wrote about events and emotions. The questions in that journal were about things I had never thought about before, and slowly it helped me learn more about myself and how I wanted to live. A couple of years later, I attended a juice fasting retreat and started my first gratitude journal. Each day I wrote at least three things I was thankful for and three things I wanted to manifest in my life. During my yoga teacher training in 2018, my yoga journal became my constant companion. It helped me process all the new realizations and emotional shifts that were part of my journey as a new yoga teacher. When I completed my coaching certification in 2019, I started a dream journal. I learned that dreams weren’t meaningless creations of the sleeping mind. They offered plenty of wisdom and could even be a portal to Divine intelligence.
Damn, my journaling got DEEP!
It’s made my life rich with wisdom, passion and purpose.
My life got so juicy!
I’ve had profound realizations that may not have happened any other way. It’s also incredibly economical. You could buy Thinking Outside the Chrysalis, 12 Steps to Mind-Blowing Happiness, Live in Wonder and a blank journal for less than a single session with a therapist or life coach.
Journaling is an incredible investment in yourself. Here are a few life-changing benefits and one important warning:
- Journaling forces you to focus on one thought at a time. Multiple stimuli often vie for attention: the TV, iPhone, grocery list or to-do list may be constantly swirling around in your head. Journaling forces you to slow down and process one item fully before moving to the next. This allows time for profound realizations about your feelings and the actions you need to take going forward.
- Writing your journal by hand helps your brain process events and emotions better. You may have heard when you were in school that taking notes by hand helps you understand and remember information better. This is the same concept. If possible, you should keep a hand-written journal. That way, when you have an aha! moment, you are more likely to remember it and incorporate the new wisdom into your life.
- Journaling allows you to recognize and celebrate your progress. Journaling can help you become more self-aware, tap into your inner wisdom and make more conscious decisions. It also records your progress. Sometimes when you change for the better, you can’t remember your old self. You might even kick yourself because you’re not where you want to be yet. Journaling helps you recognize how far you’ve come.
- Journaling with guided prompts can help you avoid pitfalls. Like any tool, if used improperly, journaling can be harmful. If your journal is a place for anger and isolation instead of reflection and solutions, you can create an echo chamber of one. Guided prompts can keep you on track. If you don’t have prompts available, use these to get started: First, write down the present situation or future goals that are on your mind. Then, write what resources you are using to work on the situation or goal. (Are you using books, blogs, podcasts, films, personal connections or anything else to move forward?) If you haven’t started yet, identify resources that you can use. If you have started, jot down the progress you’ve made so far. What have you learned about yourself? How do you feel emotionally and physically when you address these topics? What and who are you thankful for today?
The path of inner wisdom and heightened awareness that journaling offers can lead to a life of passion and purpose beyond your wildest dreams.
You can’t build a house without a blueprint.
Journaling is the blueprint to your dream life.
It’s only harmful when you don’t protect your privacy or you misuse this powerful tool to grow resentment and isolation. I’ve given you the tools here to keep you out of that trap. So tonight when you crawl into bed, before you turn off the light, take a few minutes to write in a journal and unlock the potential of your best life ever.
I wish you passion, purpose and the realization of your fullest potential!
P.S. The photo is an Oprah Winfrey quote that immediately made me think of my journaling journey. If you’re looking to move toward your purpose and passion in life, I still have space in my Passion Quest Group Coaching Series. We’ll take deep breaths together; work on our vision for the future; eat a clean plant-based diet; and of course, we will journal. We start on March 17. Find out more and sign up with the link below.