By Eliza Huie
What can possibly be so helpful about writing out your thoughts? I recently took an anonymous poll on the subject of journaling to try and capture whether or not people found value in this practice. Thanks to the help of Survey Monkey and Facebook I was able to collect input from people to help to see if people felt that journaling their thoughts was a helpful practice. It appears that many people think that taking time to collect their thoughts has been a significant help in their life. Some people journal to record significant life events. Others just track events or circumstances of their poll I conducted seem to indicate that people journal most often when things are difficult in their life.
(Image capture from Survey Monkey)
Another significant result was from the question that asked how often you journal. Over 80% of the people taking the poll said that they journal only when there is a need. The majority of the people also said that journalling has helped to bring clarity to their situation. The founder of the Navigators, Dawson Trotman, captured the essence of this very well when he said,
“Thoughts disentangle themselves through the lips and pencil tips.”
So why is this? Why does the simple act of writing out your thoughts prove to be a helpful exercise?
Here are 4 reasons why journaling can be helpful.
Journaling helps you to:
- Slow Down- When we are faced with a difficult situation, emotions are in high speed and thoughts can be racing. Taking the time to think through the basics of the situation can be essential for the simple reality of slowing you down. Intentionally journaling what you are feeling and and experiencing allows you to take time to really engage with the situation. It gives you the space to process what is going on.
- Establish truth- As you begin to slow down and collect your thoughts you have a unique opportunity to observe yourself. As you look through your the words you wrote you will inevitably see moments of ranting emotions. You will likely see moments of right thinking intermingled with emotional highs and lows. As you re-read your thoughts you have an opportunity to determine what is true and what is simply your emotional reaction. Journaling allows you to sift through and establish where the truth is.
- Determine direction- One significant thing that journaling can do is to give you a direction. When you journal with intention it can be a wonderful way you work through difficult situations. Once you get your thoughts out clearly you can then determine what would be a wise step in the area of difficulty you are facing. This happens very often in my experience with people in the counseling room. Once they take the time to journal they find clarity in the situation on their own.
- Connects to the Lord- We live in an instant response world. Most of our interaction with people is immediate and not thought out. Even our interaction with the Lord can be this way too. We send up “flare-prayers” but we can find it difficult to slow down enough to really give the Lord the details of what we are doing through. He knows it anyway right? So why bother? Through journaling you can take your thoughts and prayers to a deeper level since you have taken the time to really understand what you are going through. Using journaling as a way to connect with the Lord brings it to a higher level of purpose.
In the next couple blog posts we will take a look at a specific way you can use journaling to help give you direction and how you can more effectively journal through difficult times of your life. So whether it is though the traditional way of pen and paper or if your means take a more digital approach consider the value of taking the time to journal the next time you are facing a challenge.