Journaling has so many benefits. There are many articles about it, but I will come back to the ones I noticed after all those years.
I have been journaling for the past 10 years. I found it very helpful to deal with emotions and stress.
As I regularly move from places to places, I often question myself whether I should get rid of them or not – I’m a big decluttering addict.
After pondering the pros and cons, I got curious to read my journals again and finally took a plunge and delved into my younger self-life.
I like to go through some of my journals once in a while, not for the nostalgia of past times, but to compare myself with who I used to be and see how far I’ve come.
Going through our past can help us reflect. I’m a big advocate of the idea that we should only compare ourselves … with ourselves. In this sense, keeping notes of who we were and what kind of thoughts we had, give us some valuable insights into what we’ve achieved so far.
I came back from this experience with a few important lessons that make journaling a great tool in our daily life.
How I started journaling
I started journaling early on when I was a pre-teenager. Unfortunately, I don’t remember exactly what triggered this habit, maybe simply the fact of having a notebook – I’m a notebook addict. My first diary even came with a lock, in case someone would have been too curious (I have to laugh about that one).
Followed a few more journals that all ended up in the bin after a few years when I first moved from my parents’ home. I remember being worried about someone reading them (yes, my life was already so interesting that the risk was BIG). I guess I was especially ashamed of how naive and superficial I was at that time.
From that event, I think we can all agree on my huge lack of compassion towards my younger self at that time.
I started journaling again exactly 10 years ago and I’m about to finish my 7th diary.
Learn from experience and stop worrying so much
You know this typical question: “What would you tell/advice your younger self?”, well, reading about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, you know exactly the answer.
Reading the description of some events, I couldn’t help but feel compassionate for my 10 years younger version. Despite MANY red flags, I persisted in some dead-end situations, which I (hope) I won’t find myself into any more thanks to the experience I’ve gained. It’s like watching Titanic for the 4th time and still hoping they’ll avoid the iceberg (sorry not sorry for the reference).
Lost hopes, lack of experience, and naivety are what stands out from my writings. At some point, I just wanted to give her a big hug and whisper in her ear.
Stop worrying too much, it will be fine.
This is clearly an important reminder for the present as well. Do you find yourself worrying too much about situations that, as experience has shown, will never happen? Imagine the peace of mind you could get if you would stop.
Journaling as a mean of letting go and finding support
After a few years of break, I started to write again because I felt lonely. It was during one of my first stay abroad and I just broke up with my first love. At that time, my journal was my crutch, and sometimes, it still can be. When I need to let go I journal. When I need to see things clearer, I journal. When I feel desperate, I journal.
Of course, I have some great friends and a mother who’s always there, but sometimes, you need to deal with yourself on your own (and with the support of a diary of course).
The interesting thing is that there are a few gaps in my journals, some long periods when I didn’t write.
The longest one lasted about a year and a half. It was one of the most happiest and intense periods of my life.
Noticing some patterns throughout our journey
Going through 10 years of my life, I noticed some recurring patterns. Be it in relationships or in my professional career.
The most general one, as mentioned earlier is to not write when feeling happy and writing pages and pages when I need to let go. Have I also mentioned the crutch earlier? 😉
Of course, I also noticed some other patters in my life itself: lack of confidence and emotional dependency are the two big bullies I’ve always carried on with me. And you know what? After 10 years, I can proudly say that it’s getting better.
There are still around, really part of me, but I now live a more stable and happier life with them on my side.
How about you?
The way we journal evolves along our own growth
I still journal but I have recently been trying to focus more on the positive side of things, because remembering positive events is important too.
I’m somehow convinced that the less we focus on the negative events, and so, not writing about them, the faster we can move on.
Chances are, that because I have an amazing partner, I can share everything with him. I also have great friends too. My support system is stronger than it used to be, and I can only be grateful for that.
A thought just flashed while writing these lines: could it be that we get less selfish with time? Understanding that good relationships are precious and need good care, we focus less on ourselves?
Recalling important events
I have a bad memory. This is a fact.
I can recall events, but I mostly remember the emotion triggered, not the what, when, why.
So, I like to consider my journals as the guardians of my lost memory. This is also why I now choose to relate more positive state of mind and events. I want to remember how wonderful life can be.
Reading for my past jo0urnals wasn’t always easy on an emotional level. I really felt sad and sorry for myself sometimes. This was a necessary process, but I know I also experienced great moments of joy that are not recorded.
This is now about to change 😉
Observing the change of your writing style
This is a discipline on its own: graphology. I’m far from being an expert but a few things caught my attention and again, I couldn’t help but feel compassionate for my younger self.
10 years ago, my writing was condensed and small.
Another noticeable thing is that I didn’t write in the margin. I respected what I learned at school and didn’t dare to take space that was mine. The size of my writing also changed based on my emotional state.
Looking now at my “normal” writing, I can easily say that I gained some confidence, and the progress is nice to witness.
How about journaling for the next 10 years?
For the past 3 years, I have been having a (or actually a few) bullet journals. I thought I could use it for everything, but I quickly realized that it worked better for me to have a specific notebook for a specific use. (Otherwise, how could I justify having some many cutie notebooks?).
I try to write regularly, but I don’t pressure myself either. When I feel especially grateful for something or I need to get some clarity about a situation, I just write. Just like what I’m doing right now with those lines.
Sometimes, I get stuck, sometimes, it flows, and that’s okay.
I want to keep track of my emotional state to remind myself what I have been through and what I’ve accomplished to give me the boost I need when feeling down, if needed at all 😉
What about you? Do you journal, and if so, what benefits does it have? Could you relate to some of the points I mentioned in the article?
Let me know about your experience in the comments or even in private.