So I am a ‘journalor’. For the past 20 years I have journaled and journaled sometimes as much as 10 or 20 pages per day. At home there are boxes full of my journals. It’s a known thing now with my husband that if I have run out of paper in my journal notebook, I will be urgently going off to the shops to buy a new one.
When I have not had time or have neglected journaling, it shows. The only way I can explain it is that I somehow become less connected. My husband checks whether I have journaled and encourages me to. He is many times excited to ask what came up when I was journaling.
People have asked me what format I use, which I find peculiar as I didn’t realise there is a format. But it turns out there is. What I did not realise is there are different types of journaling. Many Christians feel they ‘should’ journal and feel guilty about not doing it. Many people have a misconception about what it is and what it can be.
The fact is, some kind of journaling is super helpful in developing your self-awareness and your emotional intelligence. This is the kind of journaling I most enjoy. It becomes a sweet place where I get new revelation and connection with The Lord on higher levels almost each and every time.
Self-awareness is such a vital key to your personal development, your spiritual development and your development as a leader. How and why does it do this?
Journaling develops your relationship with you. It helps you to understand you better. It helps you to become aware of the desires of your heart. It helps you to ascertain what brings you alive and what does not. It helps you process emotions and feelings which if not let out, get suppressed and can lead to depression and anxiety. It helps create the narrative between you and God on a heart level, rather than a superficial head level. It allows you to hear what God is saying to you, in many ways including through listening to what He has planted in your heart. It helps you to progress revelation and thoughts into deeper insight. It helps you to fix yourself. It helps you to counsel yourself and think yourself out of many problems. Whatever is brought into the light can be dealt with. It helps you to know your limitations and where you really need help and comfort. This helps you to know what to pray for and what to intentionally seek out in your life. It helps you process negative feelings and well as celebrate positive feelings. It helps you to track your own personal growth and see how you are changing and maturing.
Journaling isn’t always writing
So first and foremost, before you decide – eeeks I HATE writing and could not imagine having to journal, you don‘t necessarily need your journal to be words or writing. We are all different. I am a writer I LOVE writing. I am an author and have dreams of writing many more books. But journaling can also be pictures, drawing, mind maps, a video recording (like a personal journal of just speaking – not for public consumption but just for you), scribbles, a combination of drawings, and words, or whatever you like.
Here are some tips.
1. Just be
Start with an emotional inventory. On one page, write down your positive feelings and your negative ones. Just give yourself time to get all of them out. No judgement. Just be whatever you are in the moment and take stock.
2. Go deeper
Look at what you have written down and notice what surprises you. Go deeper into any emotions you feel you want to understand more. What is it about? What is the reason for this emotion? What has caused it? How do I feel about that?
3. Progress what you feel like progressing
Is there an obvious fix? What does this insight show you about what you may want to change? Do you know how? What could change to make you feel positive? Can you move towards this?
4. Connect with God
Ask God what He feels about your thoughts. What is He proud of? What does He want to grow? Ask Him what this current season is about? Ask Him for what you want.
I love getting insight on what God is doing in me. It gives me a sense of peace to know. It also helps me lean in on His focus. It also banishes fears of thinking I ‘should’ be further or that nothing is happening. The Lord is always doing way more than we take the time to ask and find out.
You can do all of the above by writing, responding in colours or drawings, or videoing and speaking out what comes to mind. Everyone needs time to process. Everyone does it differently. Some need to speak. Some need to walk and talk. Some need to write. Some need to draw. The main thing is that you process and spend time with you, so that you can understand you.
The Bible says that we are to love others ‘as we love ourselves’. Journaling in my mind is one of the ways I love myself. As a coach I take time to listen to others. That’s one way I love others. According to the Bible I must also love myself, so this helps me to take time to listen to me.