Recently I led a workshop on journaling. I talked about the wide range of uses and approaches, and admitted that I had been consistently doing it daily for the last 25 years!
It is not magic, it will not work miracles but with consistent use it can help you understand yourself, enable you to manage your stress better and give you a tool to make sense out of life! In fact one book I am currently reading gives many more reasons to journal and is called 101 Reasons to Journal. I use a book and a pen, you can use a computer, the key is to start writing and make it part of your daily life!
HOW do you do it? Again there are lots of ways to do it, but to start off I would recommend following an outline, a series of questions that you work through like:
· Description – what happened today? (include date) What did I do? What did I learn or experience? Who did I interact with? What was significant? Were there any successes? Failures? Struggles?
· Reflection – what did it mean? Which one of those things made the biggest impact? What made it different? Write about that experience – how good or how bad was it? Describe and evaluate the facts – why did I respond/react the way I did? How did that affect the outcome?
· Emotions? How do I feel about that event/experience? Am I Sad? Mad? Glad? Or Afraid? How did I express those feelings? Were they in tune with the events that evoked them? Were they more/less intense than the situation called for?
· Actions required? What should I do about it? Should I apologise, redo the exercise, rethink my response? Is God telling me that I need to do something about this? Do I need more information before I act on this?
· Meaning for the future? What did I learn from this and how do I lock this into who I am? Is this a recurrent theme – have I been down this track before and not learnt anything? Do I need to raise this with someone else like a counsellor, psychologist or mentor?
After doing this workshop I looked back at a range of journals and noticed that I also include in my journal questions I am struggling with, comments about the where I am, what the weather is like and quotes from books I am reading. The above list is just a guide to get you started.
Overcome your inhibitions, preconceptions and the negative feelings you may have had when you tried this at school and start writing, you never know where it might lead. My journal is both a record of my past journey AND my DREAM for the future, a place where I question God, and hopefully over time I see some answers as well. It is not easy but it is worthwhile – give it a go!
Chaplain Ian S Whitley