Journaling about yourself allows you to make cognitive and emotional assessments of your past, your present, and who you desire to be in the future. The “self” has been viewed as the core of a person’s life span experiences, motivational states, and action orientations. The concept of the “self” dates back to early writings of philosophers who focused on the nature of the human soul. As far back in history as the third century B.C., Plato was forming theories about the complex layers of the “self” as both acting in a purposeful manner upon others and being influenced by others in one’s social environment. During the fifth century B.C., Aristotle proposed that individual thinkers cannot be truly understood apart from the social systems within which they live and to which they react. An individual’s unique and complex inner “self” has the power to take meaningful actions, to create goals, and to experience many types of emotional states.
If you experience frequent anxiety or depression, you may find that you lose your sense of “self” within the thoughts of your own mind. When your self-awareness becomes consumed by fears and insecurities, the pathways of your limbic system (the emotional control center of your brain) become wired repeatedly with self-defeating thoughts or painful memories. These thoughts create disturbing emotions which need to be released. Furthermore, you may become disconnected from your true self when filling your brain with too many social media posts. This process can cause ruminating doubts about your self-worth, and you may start to feel hopeless toward reaching your goals, which can then lead to depression, anxiety, and other negative mental health outcomes. Your daily social interactions can be compared to an ongoing series of performances, as in a play with various audiences, and these performances consist of different roles which can influence our inner view of the “self” in either positive or negative ways.
Emotional pain does not just disappear. Writing down your thoughts, memories, and current emotional responses which are related to them can improve your introspective skills and can allow you to observe and analyze the words which flowed from your brain during each journaling process. Through your free-flowing words while journaling, you are actively evaluating your experiences and generating increased self-awareness about your personal and work relationships. The most valuable outcome of releasing and processing your accomplishments, joys, regrets, and fears is the development of increased self-acceptance.
YOU can be your own therapist by writing out your life narrative and evaluating which experiences are truly worthy of current attention and which experiences require further attention to get to a sense of closure and personal growth. You may feel flawed, weak, or ashamed of your thoughts and emotions. Therefore, you may try hard to deny or to repress them, which only results in staying “stuck” in this cycle and allowing these thoughts and emotions to gain control of your life. Acceptance of ALL thoughts and emotions is key to mental well-being, and journaling, even occasionally, can be a much-needed release of the thoughts and emotions which are causing the “stuckness” in your life’s narrative.
YOU CAN get out of the torturous cycle within your brain’s emotional pathways by just allowing yourself to write or to type whatever thoughts flow out of your brain. You will often observe, when reading through your written and unfiltered words, that a particular situation may not be as hopeless as you had perceived while these thoughts and memories were trapped in your mind. You can actually find your own solutions by seeing all of your unedited thoughts and emotions in an organized manner, either on paper or on your computer, thus gaining a sense of empowerment and hope toward what had seemed like unsolvable situations.
Journaling can be frightening, in that it is difficult to actually see written expressions of sadness, disappointment, regret, shame, and loss. However, journaling can be the most precious form of self-care, because you are allowing your real self to be revealed and to gradually be more accepted, with all of your strengths, accomplishments, and, yes, your weaknesses and flaws. Through journaling, you courageously go along a path of reflections about who you have been, how you have behaved, and who you truly perceive yourself to become as a more ideal form of YOU, or your true higher self. Depression and anxiety absolutely result from a sense of incongruity, which results from a gap between your real self and your true higher self. Your mental health lies in the ability to bridge this gap. Writing can help you to bridge this gap about who you really are and who you envision to be can
Through the journaling process, you can clarify your goals and the realistic and manageable actions for reaching these goals. You will find that journaling gives you a strong sense of control and order to your daily life, because you are documenting and evaluating your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. By doing this, you are tapping into your innate human motivational capacity for purposeful actions and pursuit of goals. In sum, you are taking control of your thoughts and emotions when you write or type them out. This cathartic process leads you to increased self-awareness and, best of all, an improved sense of self-acceptance.