Journaling is a great way of disclosing emotions rather than stuffing them down, which is known to be harmful to our health. So many of us have secret pain or shame that we haven’t shared with others, swarming around our brains in images and emotions. Through writing, our pain gets translated into black-and-white words that exist outside of ourselves.
On the thinking level, writing forces us to organize our experiences into a sequence, giving us a chance to examine cause and effect and form a coherent story. Through this process, we can also gain some distance from our experiences and begin to understand them in new ways, stumbling upon insights about ourselves and the world. While trauma can upset our beliefs about how life works, processing trauma through writing seems to give us a sense of control.
Expressive Writing is traditionally done for four days in a row, but there isn’t anything magical about this formula. Studies suggest you can journal:
a few days in a row, a couple of times a week, or just once a week;
you can write for 10, 15, or 20 minutes;
and you can keep journaling about the same topic or switch to different ones each time.
It's important to remember not to rehash the same difficult experience over and over again. Ruminating does not provide clarity. It is important to move into your feelings and not just stay in the headspace of thoughts. Move into the place of creating a healthy reality by taking control of your thought process.
The best way to create a healthy thought process is to notice the event that took place, and the judgment you had about that experience or event. Then, THE KEY COMPONENT is to change your thought to a positive feeling. Generate this new feeling and think about a different action that occurs or could be chosen.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing more on journaling and why it works as well as some exercises to help you get started on your own journaling practice. Next week I’ll share an expressive writing exercise that you can try for 20 minutes a day for 4 consecutive days, so be sure to check back.
If you would like a journal to help you get started on this journey, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line Journal Request and we'll send one to you. Be sure to include your name and the best address to send it to.
Want to dive deeper into your emotions and learn some specific techniques to help you, consider booking a coaching session with me.