In this chapter, we'll talk about:
journaling openly and honestly, without fear of our words being read by others.
how to keep our journals safe and private.
+ three writing prompts.
"I'm not sure how I'm feeling at the moment. I have a weird pressure behind my eyes and my chest is tight. I'm a little dizzy today, too. I think, perhaps, it's my anxiety, because I'm so ready for family time. Life is starting to run away with me—sometimes I think I haven't done anything miraculous or worthwhile, which is a lonely sensation..."
- From Girlboss.Guru's personal journal (2021)
KEEPING A DAILY JOURNAL BENEFITS OUR MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING in many ways. It can inspire creativity, help your memory, and acts as a means to empty your mind of all those worries, problems and fears. Alongside being a safe and private space for you to unload ideas and personal thoughts—honestly and openly expressing your mood (which may not always be as you'd expect)—writing by hand slows us down, moves us away from screens and declutters internal chaos. In short, journaling can help us to gain more confidence and a stronger sense of self. And who doesn't want that?
In a private journal, there is no fear of judgement. Your words aren't selfish or unreasonable; they are necessary to express yourself in an environment free of external judgement... your environment. What we face on the page can surprise even us! What you feel and say can't cause harm or offense on those pages, and when you pick up a pen, poisonous thoughts may spill across the page at their will. But that's OK—if you need to be a b*tch anywhere, may as well be there! Say things you don't mean in this space, then disregard them without guilt. And be assured this is all paving the way for your mind to heal.
Journaling with purpose (but through choice) is a mindful exercise. In a comfortable environment—a personal space you've created and enjoy being in, perhaps combined with aromatherapy oils, suitable lighting and music?—the experience of journaling at a leisurely pace will calm us down and aid relaxation.
Whilst it may therefore help to heal our mind, it's also a way to track our physical symptoms to better pinpoint triggers for anxiety, OCD and depression. When we identify causes, we are equipped to find solutions.
IN THE BEGINNING, WRITING ABOUT PERSONAL THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS MAY stir feelings of anxiety or panic—unease is normal. When we live with other people, there is a natural risk someone may find and read the journal's content either by accident or with intent. Is this risk greater than the chance a dog will chew it, a cup of coffee will spill across it, or a home intruder will steal it, though? Is this risk (or a variation of it) why you fear removing it from home, or starting a journal at all?
Such thoughts will hold you back from the intense benefits journaling can have on your wellbeing. We should not (and cannot) predict the future; balancing our mental health on 'what if' scenarios cannot be a good enough reason to procrastinate. And so there are small steps we can take to minimize these risks and, therefore, the related fear/s.
<<Please read this post on containment considerations>> It's important that you feel ready and safe before you try therapeutic journaling. Girlboss is not a medical professional; this advice is as per her own experiences and research.
Peace of mind around your journal's security is important. It's a valuable tool if only for the benefits and self-realization waiting within the blank pages. Loving family should respect your privacy, because as it is unacceptable to read someone's text messages, e-mails, or open their mail (cringe!), it is frowned upon to read their journal. Preventing temptation and curiosity may be a priority if you live with someone you feel unable to trust wholeheartedly, or with excitable children. Store your journal in a space only you have access to: a safe, a lockable box, a high shelf or a cabinet in your home office. Keep it under your pillow or in the pillow case itself, under the mattress, or even beneath your (a-hem) underwear in a drawer or cupboard.
Open Your Journal
Now you know more about how to journal openly and honestly, without fear of your words being read by others (and how to keep your journal safe), turn to a blank page in your notebook to answer the following questions:
Do you fear the honesty and openness a personal journal requires?
Write about these fears—where do you believe they stem from?
In list form, write some solutions that could help to ease your fear about journaling openly and honestly in the beginning.
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