Have no fear, your journals are here!

The journaling basics for healthy processing of emotions

Dear Diary,

Wait until you hear this shizzz….

Who had a diary growing up? Show of virtual hands.

I know many of us were given diaries as gifts and, if you were anything like me as a 90’s kid, it left you with a collection of mostly blank Lisa Frank notebooks. Today, I’m asking you to make up with your diary…well, maybe not the Lisa Frank one.

We call grown up diary writing “journaling” and it will be an important series in this blog as a crucial aid for solo emotional healing and growth. The posts in the journaling series will highlight an emotion or common emotional wound, such as feeling unworthy, and pose journaling questions so readers can explore and begin their own healing. These questions will help to identify behavioral and thought patterns and provide a method to get to the root of emotional wounds.

Addressing any emotional wound can feel uncomfortable and vulnerable at times but it is an extremely important practice for overall mental and emotional health. Think of emotional wounds like infections on the skin. Don Miguel Ruiz uses this analogy in his books. To heal an infected wound, we have to clean it first so it can fully heal and not come back. The cleaning process can be painful (ever poured a bit too much alcohol into an open wound? Fun.). That said, certain wounds, like major childhood traumas and incidents of abuse, should be handled with care and in a way that you feel safe. Often times, wounds of this nature, that invoke shame or guilt, heal more easily with a loving support network. Like in yoga, it is good to push yourself to stretch with emotional healing work but never past what is safe for you.

For the journaling exercises to be most effective, it’s important that the entries be unfiltered honesty. This means these journals are for your eyes only. Unless you chose to share with a supportive and accepting loved one that has your best interests in mind. So find a safe place to keep your journals and make an agreement with anyone in your space to respect your journal privacy and your healing.

There are a few different ways to journal. The different journaling types we’re using are called: Purge, Gratitude, Manifestation, and Realizations/Patterns. Each type of journaling entry should be placed in its own designated notebook so the energy or intention isn’t muddled. For example, if you’re trying to manifest a new car on one page and then “purging” about how you’re so broke on the next page, the intention being sent out is unclear. This means you may have a couple different journals laying around. Oh no! Looks like you have to go to Target and buy cute notebooks. (To be honest, I use plain school notebooks but, I know, it isn’t as fun.)

Each journal is explained below:

Purge. Spew. Vom. Yak. Get it out! Your Purge journal will probably be the most important journal in your arsenal. This journal is designated as a Purge only. On the inside cover or first page write the intention: “Purge: Safe Space for my eyes only. Not to be sent out to the Universe or for manifesting.” Setting the intention for the notebook allows you safely expel these emotions from the body and energy field, gives a healthy and safe emotional release, and creates room for healing. This journal is just for you. This is the safe place where you purge all the yucky, ugly feelings and thoughts. The things you don’t want to look at, admit, or bring up. “I’m so fat.” “No one could love me.” “Why did she do that?” “I can’t believe this is happening to me again!” This is what you come home to to emotionally throw up. I write in my Purge journal almost daily. Sometimes it’s short; I only need to write a paragraph or two. Sometimes it’s an intense couple hours of writing and crying depending on what I’m going through, what I’m addressing, and how long it’s been since I journaled. I even travel with my Purge journal; it is that important to me.

Gratitude. This should be your second most important journal. If you’re really searching for healing, commit to using your Purge journal and your Gratitude journal daily for one month and your whole mental/emotional state will shift positively. The Gratitude journal is where you express gratitude. *Gasps* Shocking. I know. There’s figuratively a billion studies on the benefits of expressing gratitude and here is the space to do that. Write the intention on the inside cover or first page as, “Gratitude: Expressing love and gratitude for my highest good.”  Gratitude is a form of love. Expressing it is important for your mental/emotional state, it makes you more present, and it raises your energetic vibration. Maybe most importantly, expressing gratitude brings you more of what you’re grateful for. If you show gratitude for your friend’s love, they’re more likely to continue to give it. Versus not showing gratitude because at some point they’ll probably stop expressing the same affection. A great way to use your gratitude journal is to start or end your day with writing five things you’re grateful for. You can do a short numbered list, however it’s more impactful to write out the sentence “I am grateful for…” for each item. On rough days, it might be hard to find things. Even writing out the most basic things, “I’m grateful for being able to use all my limbs….to be breathing…to have enough to eat,” is hugely impactful. On other days when you can’t think of anything, it’s great to even express gratitude for seemingly superficial things like, “I’m grateful for my new running shoes…manicures…my comfy bed…my best friend…that nice barista.”

Manifestation. Ahhh manifestation. Most know manifestation because of popular books like The Secret. There are fine nuances to it that I will address but simply, manifesting is the idea that you attract things into your life by putting energy on them (the law of attraction). Because manifesting requires sending out energy, the intention for this journal will be slightly different. We want to send this out to the Universe otherwise it’s like trying to use a cellphone with no service. So, because the law of attraction can work in both the negative and positive (read more in my next couple posts about this), I recommend setting your intention carefully. Before beginning, it’s important to recognize that what we want or think we want at one point in our lives, is not always the best thing for us. Not getting what we want at one point is sometimes for the best. I bet you can even think of examples in your own life. A personal example is my father was absentee most of my life. During that time I wished for nothing more than for him to come back. After a lot of self-healing, I see that because of his addictions, his presence in my life would have actually been a detriment. It was easier to have a constant absence. Keep these examples in mind as you manifest. Therefore on your journal, I would write on the first page or cover, “Manifesting: Creating the best reality for my highest good and the highest good of those around me.” This phrasing allows for manifesting only what is best for you in the highest form. It’s also vital to note that manifesting should always be in the present tense. For example, “I have my dream job” vs “I will have my dream job.” Saying “I will have…” sends out the energy that you don’t have that thing. But saying in the present “I have…” brings in the energy that it is already yours.

Realizations/patterns. This journal is for writing down your epiphanies and breakthroughs. On the inside cover of first page, write the intention of “Realizations: Not to be sent out to the Universe or for Manifesting. For healing and growth for my highest good only.” You can also use this journal for the questions in our journal series. A few years ago, when I began to really focus on healing myself, I would write my major breakthroughs into a designated journal. It was interesting because over time I found I would constantly circle back to the same emotional wounds but was able to pull back more layers each time. This journal is a good tool for recognizing patterns and growth. It isn’t 100% necessary, like the first two, but it is nice to have. Especially if you’re a little more Type A and need the organization and benchmarks for growth. Or if you just love journals.

Journaling or journal therapy is very helpful for solo healing. It may be uncomfortable to start. With many people I’ve worked with, they intend to journal but they can’t bring themselves to do it. If you find yourself in this boat, this is as a great a starting point as any. Open up your Purge journal and explore this block. Ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • What is it I’m worried will come up if I journal?
    • What am I afraid will happen if ______ does come up?
    • How does not addressing ________ serve me?
      • How does it benefit me to not look at it?
    • How can addressing _______ change or alter my life?
      • Does it mean letting go of certain ideas/beliefs about myself, certain relationships, certain patterns or habits?
    • Am I ready to address/heal/shift/let go of ______?
      • If the answer is no, then why not?
      • If the answer is yes, keep journaling!

If you find you’re not ready to address something, please do not beat yourself up over it. Everyone’s healing looks different and follows their own timeline. Our journeys are not comparable. What one person needs to heal may be completely different than another person’s needs.  And that is perfect. It’s 100% okay to put digging into your emotional wounds on pause if you’re not ready. I’ve had to take a few days or weeks to mentally prepare to address certain wounds. Especially the big wounds (beliefs you have of yourself because of the way you grew up, anything with parents and family, childhood traumas, abuse, etc.) sometimes have to be set down for a time before you can look at them fully. But please don’t beat yourself about it and add another layer to work through. Give gratitude to yourself for loving yourself enough to try and for the progress you’ve made because even an inch is progress.

24 thoughts on “Have no fear, your journals are here!”

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