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  • Kylie van Gelder

3 Benefits to Journaling and How They Can Help You

For years I'd heard about the benefits of journaling. As an aspiring writer, it may seem odd to you that I totally ignored the glowing praise journaling was receiving.

I think my main reason for sitting on a gem for so long was fear. I was afraid of what I might discover (lions and tigers and bears... oh my). Afraid of disappointing myself by not keeping up with it and afraid I would find it totally boring, ridiculous and unnecessary.

Holy crap on a cracker was I wrong!

Journaling initially started off as a now and then thing. I guess you could say I dabbled in journaling. Actually, when I fist started writing consistently about 4 years ago, I mainly typed potential blog posts I never shared (and phew am I glad I didn't... I was pretty bitter).

Since the beginning of December 2020, I decided I'd give it the old college try and start journaling every day. Now, I can definitely say journaling has been a flipping amazing addition to my day! Like REALLY awe-frigging-some! Sometimes I only have a few minutes between kids, work, sleep, and a so-so social life.

If I'm running late to journal, I miss it... like a lot... which means the habit is there too. Woohoo!

Here's why I love it so much!

  1. Journaling helps you discover your voice. Oh, I didn't realize I was missing a voice. No silly, your writing voice. Honestly, it actually helps you discover so much more, but I'll start with the writing voice. In the academic world, I more or less mastered academic writing. In the corporate world, I mastered politically correct emails. My co-workers would come to me to check their work and to adjust it into a more politically correct message. Developing this skill stemmed from the people pleasing behaviour I had developed. What happened though, is I got so used to writing "properly" and for everyone else. I stopped writing for myself. When I left corporate, I was on an endless search for me. My words, my way of communicating and a way of getting a shit ton of information and thoughts out of my head. I thought blogging would be the answer, so I started writing articles and saving them in Word. This process was great and it helped me to really see I had no idea what I was doing (chuckle to self). I was just dumping a whole lot of words in a document. There were some ok ones, but there were more filled with frustration and uncertainty, at myself and toward others. In comes oodles of coaching (backed by previous years of therapy telling me I should journal), an abundance of personal development books, a writing course, masterclasses, podcasts and blog reading all saying journal, journal, journal. I was finally convinced. Several months in now and I write with ease. I'm better at communicating my thoughts in writing, but also to other people. As an extrovert with some social anxiety tendencies, this has been tremendously helpful! I find it easier to write how I speak and it's a phenomenal way of getting things out of my head in a way I completely understand when I read it later. Journaling helps you discover the difference between your inner critic and your true voice. The one you may let slip into your mind sometimes, but then quickly stuff away for fear people might judge you. Journaling helps you get thoughts out in a way you are comfortable with. You will discover so much more about yourself, who you are now and who you want to be. This brings me to benefit number 2.

  2. Journaling helps you find you. How temping it is right now to type a sentence saying "Find me? I didn't know I was missing." Since I did type it, I'll say this: Ah, my dear, you are, or at least part of you is. Even if you have no aspiration to become a writer, the most incredible reason to start journaling is to discover who you really are. Your true self. She's in there waiting for you to let her out and to show her off to the world! Journaling allows you to self-reflect, to look back on your memories. You know, the ones you regret, to see where you can learn from your mistakes. It helps you forgive yourself and others. When I first started journaling consistently, this was where I started – with my regrets and forgiveness. While it's still a work in progress for me, I have come a long way with not repeating past experiences in my mind, wishing for a time machine to change my past. Instead, I've journaled about what I can learn from my past and how I can forgive myself and others. I've learned there is no way I can change it or other people. If I could, I wouldn't be where I am now, with the opportunities and family I have today. See, progress! Journaling allows you to express your deepest darkest thoughts in a safe place. Mine are in my journals, so don't be thinking I'm about to share them here. Haha! You can also dig deep to your limiting beliefs – these are the beliefs you hold about yourself and the world that are holding you back from becoming who you are truly meant to be. You can unravel these limiting beliefs and take on more empowering ones. At the same time, while soaking up these amazing benefits, you can also relieve your stress by getting your thoughts out. This creates clarity and more room for you to think, breathe and open up to how you really feel about yourself and others - that is it makes you more self-aware. When you're more self-aware, you're in a better place to correct your poor behaviours and to strengthen great ones. BAM! Now that's what I call beneficial!

  3. Journaling helps you to be more creative. Journaling, specifically when handwriting, inspires creativity. Research shows there is an actual neurological connection between our brain and hand when we write. This connection stimulates creativity, memory and positive thinking. Not to mention, when we handwrite, parts of our brain are activated similar to when we meditate. Added benefit! Being more creative makes you better at problem solving and thinking outside the box. It inspires your imagination and builds your confidence, because you learn to turn off your inner critic. This is probably where I struggled the most, with creativity. When I was writing, I would write really structured or in a complete and utter mess. Sometimes I'd crack a joke and then, even in my journal, strike a line through it. I was so fixated on having to write a certain way, I was actually editing my journal! Now, I just write. Even here, in my blog, I just write. I'm a wordy gal as you can see from the length of my posts, but that's me. Journaling, has helped me find my voice, and get a better understanding of who I am and who I want to be, because it has helped me become creative, to just write for the sake of writing anything at all.

If you decide to take up journaling, I recommend giving it at least a month of daily time. Even if you just write the 3 things your grateful for, you can start reaping the benefits journaling has to offer.

For more information about journaling or any other personal development questions you might have, feel free to contact me at any time.

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