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Journaling for Personal Growth

You may be thinking about journaling for personal growth, but have found it difficult to keep up the habit in the past. Or perhaps you already journal quite frequently, but you're not sure how to use the process for self-growth. For those who don't journal, let's just clarify that journaling for personal growth is a very different exercise than making "To Do List's" in many ways. It can be a brain dump session where you write down everything that you are thinking about at the time. It can be a place where you share your hopes and dreams for the future with yourself. It can also be an activity of healing, where you work out your "shit". Journaling for personal growth usually includes specific writing activities like pros and cons lists, past and present comparisons, and narrative writing about your life. The real goal here is to learn more about yourself, through a process of written self-discovery.

Journaling for personal growth is not a whimsical activity. You need to set aside protected time on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, where you will not be interrupted. Setting aside or scheduling this time will allow for optimum growth, discovery, and healing. Be sure to date each entry and number your journals, but there’s no need to title each entry unless you want to. You should also have a goal set out such as how many pages you will complete or how long you will spend writing. For me, I like to set my goal to three pages per session. It's definitely ok to go over your goal, but you should try not to go under, so set your goal wisely. If what you’re writing about doesn't take up your agreed-upon number of pages or time start writing about something else.

Set the mood.

Get what you need close at hand: your journal and writing materials. Yes, it is better to do this with pen and paper (it makes the experience more personal and some have even said they find it spiritual). Have something you like to drink close by and provide yourself with a quiet place to be with your thoughts where you won't be disturbed. Then, let the thoughts flow onto your paper.

To read or not to read.

This is really a personal preference. I often wait a few days before reading previous journal entries. I find that rereading right after making an entry is scary. I don't always like what I read. I'm too close to it, or I get so excited about what I read I am no longer objective. So I give myself time to percolate and come to it with a fresh set of eyes and mindset.

To share or not to share.

The journal is really for the writer. It can be tempting to share your journal with others, but it's best to only share concepts and excerpts if needed. It is human nature to have an opinion or to judge another's thoughts and actions. However, you are opening yourself up to criticism if you do share, and that's not the purpose of the action. The purpose of journaling for personal growth is to get to know yourself as well as you can.

So go have fun with it. Explore the recesses of your mind!

Miranda Marschalk,

Psychotherapist & CLC


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