5 Reasons to Journal About Therapy and Personal Growth
Does it seem like you make progress in your life only to forget all about the new insights and growth a few weeks later? Whether you are currently in therapy, a group, or doing other personal growth practices, journaling is a great addition and can help you get the most out of the personal work you are already doing.
Here are a few ways that journaling can contribute to your growth:
- Keep track of your insights.
Personal growth is non-linear. It isn’t as simple as following a set up steps and making steady progress in a direction. At times you will feel like you are making big leaps in your progress and at other times it will seem like you are going backwards.
You will also work on many aspects of your life simultaneously. For example, suppose you are deeply working with anxiety and making progress and know what you need to do to progress. Then the next week you have a fight with your partner and spend the next couple of weeks talking about that. And your relationship difficulty doesn’t get resolved, but the next week you have a big project due at work, so that comes to the forefront.
If you are like most people, chances are the anxiety has been there throughout. But by the time you address more pressing challenges you may have forgotten all about the insights you were having a month ago about working with your anxiety. If you have a journal, you can look back and pick up where you left off.
- Get perspective on how far you’ve come.
When you are in the thick of things you tend to just focus on getting through your days, and taking whatever steps you can to move yourself forward.
It is often only when you look back on where you were several months (or years) ago that you are truly able to see the progress you’ve made. If you don’t pay attention it is easy to move into working on a new struggle without even realizing that you worked through or healed something that used to be a big problem for you.
Having a record of the day to day progress can be really useful because you can look back and see all of the progress you have made. This serves to put your growth into perspective and can ultimately help you feel better about yourself.
- Process feelings.
In areas in your life where you have unfinished business from trauma or growing up, your emotions and mind may be out of sync. You may feel something strongly but have difficulty understanding what you are feeling. This is because the parts of the brain that regulate emotions don’t communicate with parts of the brain that make meaning of these feelings.
The process of journaling forces you to put your feelings and sensations into words in order to record them. This is similar to what happens in the therapy room. The result is that the right and left hemispheres of your brain communicate and you reintegrate and process the feeling.
- Think things through.
The process of writing about yourself and your process not only gives you perspective, it helps you have new insights. You get the opportunity to jot down feelings and thoughts you have and also new goals. You can see where you have been and sort out where you are now—and you can also create a vision for where you want to be.
In some cases you might know exactly what you want, but in many cases you won’t. Having a clear vision for the future takes practice and it takes a certain amount of work (By work, I simply mean thinking things through). Journaling gives you a forum for doing this kind of visioning process.
- Create your story.
Journaling gives you the chance to write and rewrite your life’s story. When you are moving through your daily struggles you may not put together how all of the different parts of your life have made you the person that you are. By writing about yourself regularly, you can start to tell your own story, even if you are the only one who reads it. Creating a narrative for your life provides a perfect opportunity to see the meaning in your life and in your challenges. It can help you see how your difficulties actually teach you about yourself and can even make you stronger.
I would love to hear about your experience with journaling. Feel free to share some of your insights in the comments section!