Journaling is a common practice for self-mastery. It's not uncommon to see journaling come up in therapy or in schools as a way of increasing emotional intelligence and fixing mental health problems.
Journaling has many benefits, but it can be hard to create a journaling habit because you might worry about what journaling is actually for.
But journaling is also one of the most misunderstood activities on earth! There are five myths about journaling that people believe without even thinking twice about it.
Here are five myths about journaling that we will debunk in this article:
1) Journal writing only helps when dealing with trauma.
This myth is simply not true. Journaling can help you get to know yourself better and journaling can improve your mood!
Moreover, a habit of journaling might also be a good way of expressing emotions that are difficult for you to talk about. People who journal often find it easier to express themselves than those who don't journal at all.
In fact, journaling has many benefits that go far beyond healing from trauma. Journaling helps you accomplish goals quicker and more efficiently, create positive habits, find more happiness on a daily basis, live more presently, and develop stronger and more meaningful relationships.
Journaling has benefits for just about anyone who is willing to give it a try, especially those who are on their personal journey to self-mastery and simply striving to become the best version of themselves.
2) You have to write every day or journaling won't work for you.
This is not true at all. Journaling once a week or journaling for just 15 minutes are good alternatives to journaling every day. Everyone has a different starting point and if you have never journaled before the best thing you can do is keep it simple. Set realistic goals, whether that's 5-minutes a day or every other day.
You'll find that even journaling once a week will help give you direction and clarity. Once that becomes a habit you can then use that as a stepping stone to journaling more frequently.
You may journal every day, but it's not necessary to do so.
Look at it this way, if you were to begin exercising for the first time in your life you wouldn't just start doing cross-fit for 7 days a week. That is not sustainable & not effective for habit development. You would likely begin doing what you enjoy; going for walks, lifting weights 2-3 times a week, swimming 2-3 times a week, etc. This is how you begin building healthy, sustainable habits in the right direction. Journaling is no different. If you're looking for a sustainable habit that promotes growth then begin with what is manageable for you. Start with one small habit and continue to build habits as you get more comfortable with it.
3) Writing a journal takes too much time and discipline.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that journaling takes too much time and is therefore difficult to stick to. For anyone starting out, begin with one sentence. That might now sound like much, but even to write just one sentence you need to visualize what it is you are writing. The more you visualize, the more it becomes real and can positively impact your emotions, mental clarity, direction and self-mastery.
Journaling shouldn't be a project you need to add to your already busy life. It should seamlessly fit in with no more than 5 minutes of your time, and with this approach making it a habit comes easy. This is one of the issues with most journals/planners that exist today; they become a new project for you. You don't need a new project, you need something that is simple, easy, and impactful. This is how you'll build a strong journaling habit. For more on building sustainable habits check out this article by James Clear.
4) It's necessary to write every detail of your life in order for journaling to help you grow as a person.
I don't believe this to be true. Writing every detail of your life seems daunting to me. Journaling for growth involves asking and answering specific questions. You've heard the question by Tony Robbins; "You want a better answer? Ask a better question!". This applies to your personal growth as well. This is why I encourage journal prompts that promote deeper thinking in regards to who it is you desire to become and how you can be that person today. If you need help finding journal prompts check out this article that provides 19-Self-Discovery Journal Prompts.
Many times we feel like who we desire to be and who we are today aren't aligned. Personal development involves creating alignment between who you desire to be and who you are today. Creating alignment here begins with identifying who exactly we desire to become. What attributes does he/she possess? How do they treat others? How do they confront challenges? Etc.
5) Journaling involves a blank sheet of paper and pen
"Journaling" is an umbrella term. And there are many ways to do it correctly. When journaling for self-mastery we need to understand what mastery actually means. In short, self-mastery involves learning from the past, building your future, while thriving in the moment. Therefore, journaling should encompass techniques that allow you to easily do so.
Techniques you should use while journaling for self-mastery:
Goal-Setting: Set 3 daily goals and prioritize them 1-3. This gives you directly moving forward.
Gratitude Journaling: Write down 3 things you are grateful for. Be as detailed as possible. This builds your awareness of everything you have to be grateful for and allows you to be present and thrive in the moment.
Reflection: Answer the questions "What went well today?" and "What can I improve upon, moving forward?". This builds awareness around where you excel and where you need to improve. And in doing so you'll continually learn from you past in order to maximize your strengths, moving forward.
Journal Prompt: Answer a journal prompt with a minimum of one sentence. Doing so guides you to being detailed about who you want to be and how you can live with more purpose.
Lastly, you do not need an official journal to get started. If you don't have a journal then begin with paper or a notebook that you have at home. This gives you the ability to customize what you want your journal to encompass. Practice specific journal techniques discussed in this article. If you desire to build more self-awareness then make sure your journal is used for reflection. If you'd like to be better at setting goals and sticking to them then make sure your journal is centered around goal settings. If you'd like to find more purpose and self-discovery then google "journal prompts" and add a prompt in every page of your journal.
Here are a few options to get started with creating your own journal:
1) Create a layout on Word so you can print it off and be consistent.
2) Use excel for your journal and complete it online if you'd prefer that.
3) Use Google Docs to create the layout and complete your journal online, or print it off.
4) Find paper or a notebook around the house that you can use for a journal.
5) Use the Notes app on your phone and/or computer.
7) Start your journal using one technique we discussed, set a goal to do it for 7 straight days. At the end of the 7 days evaluate if you should add more techniques to your journal.
If you are interested in purchasing a journal to meet your needs here are my top 3 journals for personal development and self-mastery.
1) Realizations Self-Mastery Bundle - Selfishly, this is the journal that I created. It was created to simplify the journaling process and maximize your results. It strives to really combine mindfulness/gratitude & productivity. Years of R&D went into the creation of this journal and the results from its users has been astounding.
2) Five-Minute Gratitude Journal - This journal was an industry first. It has been impactful in helping others find gratitude and live in the present. Personally, I found it as a simple journal that provided very impactful mental benefits. For anyone who desires to find more happiness in the moment and get started journaling this is a great option for you.
3) Full Focus Planner - This journal is for the goal-setter. Centered around setting annual goals and maintaining focus towards them. This journal is great for increasing focus and tackling goals one at a time. It doesn't encompass gratitude and mindfulness practices but for those who desire to become more goal-oriented then this is the journal for you.
In conclusion, journaling isn't just a tool to heal from trauma. It is a valuable tool for those who seek personal development and self-mastery. Starting small is a great way to begin keeping a journal and the techniques you should consider involve learning from the past, building your future, and thriving in the moment. Creating a habit out of journaling will help you find mental clarity, become who you desire, and give direction towards goals you desire to achieve. Find the techniques that you need most and start with creating your own journal with resources you have around the house or on the computer. Start with realistic goals and then build upon them as you continue to make journaling a habit. For more on building sustainable habits check out this article by James Clear.