There are many benefits to keeping a personal journal. It can be more than a diary of your daily activities. Writing slows down your inner dialogue so you can examine your thoughts and give voice to emotions that need releasing. Examining your feelings can be healing, as beneficial as a deep conversation with a dear friend or a spiritual connection with your Creator.
At various times in my life, I’ve found that journaling was a necessary tool for my personal survival. After my divorce, I needed a way to calm my troubled spirit. Expressing my feelings openly and honestly in my private diary helped restore my sense of value and self worth. Understanding and working through difficult emotions such as loneliness and abandonment in situations like divorce, death of a spouse or never marrying can be overwhelming, even if you are surround by others. Life is full of challenges and losses for everyone.
In adjusting to any difficult situation: i.e. health issues, death or relationship problems, there are definite stages of grieving to move through by journaling and/or counseling with a trained practitioner or trusted religious advisor. As defined by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her model “The Five Stages of Grief,” the process includes: 1. Denial 2. Anger 3. Bargaining 4. Depression, and 5. Acceptance. (Wikipedia)
First comes the stage called shock or denial for whatever it is that you are experiencing. Then examining your anger with self or others involved can move you to the next step of bargaining. i.e. Well, if I had done this or he/she hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t be suffering now. The steps don’t necessarily come sequentially, but can occur in any order. Just knowing that these stages of grief are normal is helpful. It is possible to get stuck in a stage like depression and never make it to acceptance. That’s when a trained mental health counselor and/or medical intervention may be necessary.
It’s important in journaling to not allow yourself to get stuck in self-pity. Be sure to look on the positive side of the lessons you are learning from the challenges you face. To get started, buy yourself a simple journal and reserve at least ten minutes each morning before starting your day to check in with your feelings. Don’t know what to write about, write about that. A good way to close each day’s journal entries is with gratitude. NEXT TIME: Healing Letters