Reflective journal writing is a powerful tool for wellness. It is an effective means of providing focus and clarity to issues, concerns, conflicts and confusions. Reflective writing transforms the traditional diary into a genuine, cost-effective, holistic self-management tool. Through the introduction of different writing techniques and your own creativity, your journal can become an ongoing companion and guide.
Reflective journal writing serves as a mirror to your life and it reflects your actions, thoughts, feelings back to you. Reflective writing involves your willingness to engage deeply in contemplative inquiry by asking yourself meaningful questions and then writing down honest answers. What you discover from this writing practice will amaze you. You will find your truth.
Once we begin and maintain the writing process, we open the door to our own self-knowledge. We become aware of ourselves, the consequences of our actions, our strengths, our limitations, as well as what gives us joy, the passions and dreams that ignite us and our unique gifts—all which illuminate who we really are and what our contribution to the world is. Reflective writing helps us re-establish a relationship with ourselves and hear the contents of our own hearts and souls.
There are many ways to journal. There are many tools and techniques that serve to enrich and uncover our deepest writing. Some will resonate with you immediately; some you may have to experiment with a bit to feel comfortable and others you may decide don’t suit you or your writing style. It is all good. You are in charge of your journal writing process and how your writing path unfolds. It is your journey—there is no right or wrong way to do it— just your way. When it comes to journal writing, there are no rules. Only suggestions and the suggestions are few.
One suggestion is to always date the page. This will serve as a reference point in your personal history. Having a date is helpful when you review your journals. It pinpoints exactly where you were in your life at what was going on at that time. The second suggestion is to write often in order to establish the writing practice in your life, at least in the beginning. The third and most important suggestion is to write truthfully. If you camouflage the truth from yourself in your journal, you are defeating the purpose of writing—which is to get to know yourself. It serves no purpose to be dishonest or evasive in your writing. Writing that reveals, heals.
When you journal first thing in the morning, you capture fresh thoughts from a mind still making the transition from subconscious to conscious. By writing fast and without censorship, we allow our mind to spill forth its treasures onto the page. We find startling insights, fresh perspectives and fascinating glimpses into our creative imagination.
“Nite Writes” are a different type of writing. It can serve as a reflective “review” of your day. With this method you explore insights, pose and answer questions and record observations of what occurred in your day. It is also an excellent time to consider what you are grateful for in your day. You will notice the difference in the tone of your writing from the early morning, the “anything can show up on the page” writing, to the more questioning, observing and reflecting mood of your “Night Writes”. Both are significant and powerful techniques. All writing is powerful and all writing serves you. The purpose is not so much how you write or when you write, but rather, that you continue to write.
An excellent technique to further enhance self-exploration in the journal is the practice of answering questions. Choose questions that demand your attention. Often you will find that once you start answering questions, more questions come to the surface of your mind. Just allow yourself to follow the trail of your questions. Continue answering and asking for as long as you enjoy the process. Be gentle with yourself when you tackle the more challenging questions.
The most important thing to remember when answering questions or in any of your writing is to write your truth. Be open and honest in all your responses. There is absolutely no value in deceiving yourself. Now, in the pages of your journal, you are given permission and are safe to tell it “like it is,” perhaps for the first time. Look at yourself with open and compassionate eyes. Allow yourself to write that way. Let whatever needs to come forth from the pen, come forth. Because…what reveals…heals.
Journal to the Self Workshop™ has been taught to thousands of people in the United States and five other countries. The workshop was developed by Kathleen Adams, RPT, LPC, founder of the Center of Journal Therapy since 1985. The Center is recognized for its excellence in training and leadership in the field and is approved as a national provider of continuing education for licensed counselors and psychotherapists. The center celebrates its 25 anniversary this year of promoting and teaching the benefits of writing.
For more information: www.thewritingpath.wordpress.com
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