Know thyself through journaling | Darn Wright


Last updated 6/30/2023 at 10:35am

The setting is Town Center in Mill Creek, it's a sunglasses day and, with pen and paper ready, this journaling article began.

I noticed two women at different tables, and my smiling face saw they had pen in hand and were writing in what I believed to be a diary. My eyes jumped from those sun worshipers and counted nine women and four men striking on their keyboards. I asked myself: How many were now journaling?

As a mental health professional, I know, as the influential Greek philosopher Socrates advised us, "know thyself." And through journaling, we can stride toward self-discovery.

According to David B. Feldman, counseling psychology professor at Santa Clara University: "Somewhere in the neighborhood of one in six people are active journalists. Over the past couple of decades, dozens of studies have shown that certain journaling practices can positively impact happiness, goal attainment, and even some aspects of physical health."

Writing our thoughts down can assist us in making better decisions.

James W. Pennebaker, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, published research findings in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, quoted several previous pioneering studies about journaling.

He quoted a 2018 study from the National Library of Medicine where "adults who completed 15-minute online journaling sessions three days a week for 12 weeks were less likely to ruminate on their anxious thoughts and better able to move past them."

Drawing from a 2001 study in the journal of the American Psychological Association, Pennebaker passed on the information that "journaling can improve your memory. By writing about their thoughts and feelings, study subjects reduced the number of intrusive and avoidant thoughts they had throughout the day."

Another study, published in The Arts in Psychotherapy, found journaling can actually help to ease the psychological stress we have in reaction to trauma. Those who write out their thoughts for only 15 minutes a day experienced a decrease in feelings of depression, anxiety, and even hostility.

It was noted in studies and in an article in the 2015 Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy that expressive journaling helped many of their subjects to see a major reduction in the symptomology of their PTSD.

Some sleep deprivation investigators similarly found those who spent five minutes before they went to bed journaling exactly what their goals were for the next day were more likely to fall asleep faster than those who did not do so.

I and various clients of mine found journaling can help:

• reduce conflict in relationships

• identify and then acknowledge things that are still affecting us from our past

• provide a nonjudgmental space to openly and honestly express yourself

• increase our self-awareness and helps us to find solutions to our concerns

• can serve as a personal counselor

• allow you to keep track of patterns in your mood and behavior. When we identify what's causing our stress or anxiety, we can work on a plan to resolve the problems and reduce our stress

• to know thyself.

• give direction for your therapy sessions. As a result, when one does bring those autographical here-and-now thoughts to their sessions, those thoughts can also bring clarity when setting treatment goals

Do you really want to know yourself? If so, daily journaling can become a way to look in a mirror to see your likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, and what your own personal goals are.

Darn right, study after study supports using journaling as a freeway toward knowing thyself.


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