How to Take Your Journaling Practice Deeper
If you've been journaling regularly and want to add a few new techniques to your toolbox that will take your journaling deeper, today I want to share a few ideas you can use to do just that. A couple of these suggestions are from my book, The Ultimate Guide to Journaling, which I recommend checking out for dozens of different journaling techniques and prompts you can use to enrich your writing.
The five ideas below are taken from a video class I recorded a few years ago for the En*theos Academy, in which I covered different ways you can use journaling to develop greater self-awareness, dive deep into authentic expression, and use your journaling to consciously create a meaningful life.. The academy is no longer running, but if you're a member of the Becoming Who You Are community, you can watch the whole video class, plus download the written notes to go with it from the video class section of the Library :)
1. Revisit old journaling entries
The act of journaling itself is rewarding and insightful, and revisiting old entries can take the benefits we get from journaling to a deeper level.
As we read what we've written, we can observe patterns, changes and similarities that we might have missed before. With emotional distance, plus the the extra layer of objectivity that can bring, we have a unique opportunity to see ourselves from a completely different perspective, and to benefit from additional insights and epiphanies we might not have had the first time around.
Before you start to revisit old journaling entries, leave enough time to get some emotional space from what you've written. What is "enough time"? That depends on how much time you need in order to be able to view the situation more objectively. I generally find that I get the most benefit out of this exercise if I leave a couple of weeks between the writing and reviewing stage, however if it's a long-term or particularly intense situation you might want to wait even longer.
2. Write a love letter
This is a love letter with a twist: it's letter to yourself from someone else
This journaling suggestion comes from yoga teacher Jennifer Pastiloff and can be an incredibly empowering and affirming experience. To start, close your eyes and bring to mind someone who loves and accepts you for who you are. This could be a family member, a partner, or a close friend (this person can be someone who is in your life today, or a figure from your past, living, or passed). As you sit, notice how it feels to be truly loved by that person.
After sitting with that feeling for a few moments, open your journal and start writing a letter to yourself from the perspective of that person. Start with "Dear [your name]", and imagine what they would say to you right now if they were writing you a love and support-filled missive.
3. Tap into your oldest, wisest self
This suggestion is another letter, this time from a future version of yourself.
Close your eyes and imagine yourself at 90 years old. Picture yourself in your mind's eye and imagine how that version of yourself feels towards the you of today. Let that feeling wash over you for a few moments, then begin writing a letter to yourself today from that oldest, wisest version of yourself.
Think of a question, decision, or situation you're grappling with right now. What advice would 90-year-old you offer? What wisdom can they share?
4. Lists of 100
Journaling with lists serves multiple purposes; it can be practical, help you organize your thoughts, help you explore possibilities, help you dream big, and help you have fun. This journaling technique is also useful when you have a busy schedule but still want to make time for self-reflection.
Depending on the theme of your list, the number of items doesn't have to total 100; it could be 50 or 500. The main point of this exercise is to choose a number that is a stretch and requires you to use your imagination and get creative.
You can sit down and complete a list of 100 in one sitting, or carry it around with you and add a couple of items here and there when you're standing in line, on the train, or otherwise have a few moments to spare.
Here are a few ideas for Lists of 100 to get you started:
100 places I'd like to visit...
100 people I'd like to meet...
100 things I'd like to try during my lifetime...
100 things I'd like to learn...
100 things that bring me joy...
100 ways I can take care of myself...
100 positive memories...
100 ways to be kind...
100 things to make a list of 100 about...!
5. Writing with your non-dominant hand
Writing with our non-dominant hand is a technique that some creative therapists use to regress clients back to childhood. The act of writing with our non-dominant hand can remind us of a formative time when we were still learning to write and can be a useful way to access our "inner child".
The inner child is a part of our personality that acts (and reacts) based on events and emotions we experienced as children. As children, all of us had experiences that left us with certain beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. These beliefs enabled us to survive as kids but many of them don’t serve us as adults.
Journaling with our non-dominant writing hand can help us access our inner child and begin to heal any unprocessed baggage that might still be affecting our life today (N.B. If you know that you experienced particularly traumatic events during childhood, take care of yourself and consider doing this exercise with the guidance of a counsellor).
Want more suggestion for taking your journaling practice deeper? Check out the full video class and the accompanying written notes in the Becoming Who You Are Library. You'll also get access to free workbooks, audios, and video classes on personal growth, self-awareness and living a meaningful life.