I’ve always loved to write, so it’s no surprise that I’ve been journaling since a very young age. Some of my filled-up journals have stayed with me throughout the years, and I enjoy reading what I thought and experienced back then. Journal entries from when I was nine years old and experiencing the trauma of my mom’s cancer diagnosis and parents’ divorce remind me I’ve been through a lot, and it’s ok to struggle sometimes. Journal entries from when I was older and learning about love remind me I’ve always had big emotions and that’s ok. And while I’ve kept some journals, others get tossed out as soon as they get filled up. Some secrets, pains, frustrations, and questions, not even I want to read again.
So, why journal? Personally, journaling helps me so much in so many different ways. For me, journaling is more than just writing for the sake of writing. If you’ve struggled with journaling consistently, maybe a change of perspective will help you see the value of it for yourself and your relationships. Here’s why I journal.
Journaling Helps Me Connect with Myself
I’m an internal processor. External processors “think out loud,” which helps them organize their thoughts, come to a conclusion, or settle on a big decision. They share their ideas and opinions outwardly, even if they are not yet fully formed.
Internal processors do all of that inside their heads. You’d be hard-pressed for me to come to you with an idea before I have dissected it, analyzed it, and thought it through in every way imaginable.
The one drawback of being an internal processor is that it can get quite overwhelming inside my head. Sometimes, I need to get all of my thoughts out. And that’s why I journal. Journaling, especially when I’m feeling overwhelmed or need to make an important decision, helps me better connect with my thoughts and emotions.
Journaling Helps Me Grow My Relationship with God
When I was little, I started my journal entries with “Dear Journal” or “Dear some name I had given the notebook.” Nowadays, more often than not, my journal entries start with one word: “God.”
Let’s just be honest here. Life is hard. And as an adult, there are so many decisions to make. Big, important, life-changing decisions about relationships, your career, where you’ll live, how you’ll live, what’s important to you now and in the future. More often than not, when I sit down to journal, I just need a moment with God.
A lot of my journal entries these days are prayers. And I actually love this because I love going back and reading my prayers from weeks, months, even years ago and seeing how God has answered them. Of course, He does not answer them all, but He answers more than you probably realize. Life gets busy, we move on to the next prayer, and we often don’t take the time to reflect on all God has done in our lives. Keeping a prayer journal helps me slow down and see how God moves, even when I don’t feel Him strongly. An answered prayer from five months ago is God’s hand in my life, and that is a good, comforting feeling that strengthens my relationship with Him.
More often than not, when I sit down to journal, I just need a moment with God.
Journaling Helps Me Not Ruin My Relationships with Others
You know those thoughts you have about a person or a situation that are just plain ugly? Maybe someone hurt your feelings and all you can think are awful things about them. As I mentioned, I feel emotions very strongly, but sometimes expressing those emotions to others would only cause problems. In a heated moment, it’s better to keep your mouth shut than say something that could hurt someone and damage a relationship simply because you’re angry.
However, it’s also not a good idea to keep everything bottled up inside because you will surely burst at some point (and trust me, it’s never a good time for the “burst” to come). So, what do I do with all those feelings and emotions I have? I get them out of my heart and mind by putting them on paper. I journal. Journaling helps me process my thoughts, feelings, and emotions in private so when I’m ready to discuss them with someone, they are more refined and won’t damage a relationship.
So, Why Journal?
Journaling helps my relationship with myself, with God, and with others. Even if I don’t have something specific to journal about, I still try to write in my journal daily. I always have prayers for people weighing on my heart, so if nothing else, I get those out of my mind and into the presence of God. There are many more scientific benefits of journaling for depression and anxiety, which I experience also. However, when it comes down to it, I journal because sometimes the thoughts in my head need somewhere to go, and paper has always been a great listener.