Journaling 101: Therapy for the heart, mind and soul.

cropped-heartnotesoflife_logo1.jpgI luv to write. But most of you who are following this blog know that already. (BTW, I spell it “luv” because I believe that we use the term “love” way too freely and for things that we wouldn’t necessarily die for. But that’s for another blog.)

I’m not really sure how many segments will be in this Journaling 101 series, but I assure you, there will be enough content for you accomplish three things:

  1. Understand why you should journal.
  2. Get a grasp of how to journal.
  3. Open your mind to what to journal.

I guess I have always kept a journal in one way or another. When I was 10 years old I used to sit and write country songs that told my feelings at the time. I know you’re probably asking, what kind of feelings does a 10 year old have, right? Well, you would be surprised. I took the circumstances of my life, the disruption of my home life and turned it into a grown up version of betrayal and confusion. I even found an ad in one of my Mom’s “True Story” magazines asking for songwriter’s and I sent it in. Well, I got a refusal letter in the mail about a month later. Then I heard my song on the radio about six months later so that was the last time I went that route with my writing.

I would write poems and stories and hide them under my mattress, because the feelings in them were personal and I did not want to share them with anyone. As I grew up, I used writing as a way of managing the rejection that I felt most of my life. It wasn’t until I was divorced and raising a child on my own that I actually started organizing my thoughts into a sort of notebook. Don’t get me wrong, my writing wasn’t always the negative in my life; I wrote about my son’s first steps, first words, and first day of school. I also wrote about the day I met my husband of nearly 40 years and our first date. Writing in a journal is therapy for the heart, mind, and soul.

It’s not hard to get started writing, but it does take conscious effort. And there are many ways to journal. I have a friend who has been dealing with anger for quite some time and I suggested that he write down what he wanted to say to the person he was angry with, then tear the paper up, and throw it away. Just rip it up until there were just tiny, tiny, pieces of paper that look as if they have been shredded. The act of writing it down, for your eyes only, not only releases your anger into something tangible, but it also gets it out into the open where you can heal. I once read that unresolved anger is much like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It only hurts you.

Keeping a journal can be a way of offering praise for the blessings God has given to you. Just writing down five things a day that you are thankful for can help you keep your focus on the good in your life and enable you to live through the bad. Praising God is one of my favorite things to journal. As I do my devotions each morning, I ask the Holy Spirit to speak to me and as I write, He does just that. Sometimes I will start out praising God and then I find that my writing has changed to prayer for a particular person or situation.

Don’t force yourself to write one way or another. One thing I used to teach my high school English students, when they had a tough writing assignment, was to just start writing; the thoughts would follow.  You can do the same with writing in a journal. There is so much to write about, for your eyes only. You are the person you are writing for; no one else needs to read it. And the beautiful part is, you can go back and read through what was written in the past. I had five miscarriages before I finally carried our daughter. I wrote of the pain of loss and the joy of birth. And I can see, now, how God had His arms around me all the way.

I call keeping a Journal my “Write to Life.” Happy, sad, needy, fulfilled, rejoicing with God, or angry with God. Writing is therapy for the heart, mind, and soul. Stay with me as we explore Journaling 101 over the next couple of weeks. And, if you have any specific questions about how to Journal, please contact me and we’ll write it through!

Be blessed,

Sheila

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