If you read lots of books in the self-help genre or take courses about exploring your inner psyche, you have surely come across the recommendation to write in a journal.
Journaling is a wonderful practice that can help you find clarity, reach your goals, and find your next direction in life. But if you feel bored with it, don’t know what to write about, or find that you aren’t being completely open and honest, you may be doing it wrong.
While there are no rules with journaling, you could be unintentionally taking away from the many benefits it provides you. Ultimately it should be a process that reduces your stress, not an activity that leaves you more stresses or beating yourself up (yet again) for not doing something right.
Here’s how to know that your journalling practice isn’t working
You Aren’t Enjoying the Process
Do you find journaling to be extremely tedious, boring, or just not beneficial to you at all? If so, this might come down to how you are journaling and what mindset you are in.
Take a few minutes to meditate or practise mindfulness before you pick up your pen and start to write. Consider how you are feeling at this moment, what you are struggling with, what part of your life you are enjoying, and what your plans are. Get into a mindset of gratefulness, positivity, and kindness before you start writing.
You Keep Using it Like a Diary
While many people do actually benefit from using their journal just to write about their day, this isn’t the best option for everyone. Look at how you are journaling, and determine whether or not you are actually digging deep or just using it like a diary, where you list what you did today, and didn’t actually get to your thoughts or emotions.
You Never Have Anything to Say
If you feel like every time you open up your journal, you have nothing to say, there are a few quick ways to remedy this. The first way to fix this problem is to use journaling prompts. These are questions or statements that give you a topic to write about in your journal. These often lead to other ideas in your head about what you want to say in your journal.
Another option when you feel you don’t have anything to say is to make a list each day. It can change by the day, such as today writing down 3 of your best moments, then tomorrow write 5 goals you have for the next week.
Your Stress Has Increased Since Journaling
Journaling should be helping your stress, not making it worse! If you find it to be super stressful or the act of journaling is actually making things worse for you, it’s time to try and figure out why that is. Consider what you have been writing about, and whether or not you are being kind to yourself. If every journal entry is a rant or negative, and you beat yourself up a lot, that is probably the cause. Try to write at least one positive thing about yourself and express gratitude in your journal.
You Find Yourself Holding Back a Lot
The reason you want to keep your journal to yourself is because holding back and not being open and honest with yourself really halts your progress. You need to be able to be candid if you want to find any sort of clarity. Journaling is a process and one that can do amazing things, but not if you find that you are filtering out certain parts of your life because you fear who might find it one day.