Why Do We Journal? Oh...You Don't? Here's Why You Should.

Why Do We Journal? Oh...You Don't? Here's Why You Should.

The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves. We live in denial of what we do, even what we think. We do this because we're afraid.
- Richard Bach

There's a stigma about journal writing. Some find it easy. Others avoid it like the plague.

When younger, some of us were encouraged to keep a journal. We all knew the words, “Dear Diary.” We’ve seen in it movies and read it in books. Often, media portrayed a young girl sitting on a bed, crying her eyes out over some boy who ignores her. Or a boy writing “Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you” with impotent rage at his parents and an unfair life.

The days of “Dear Diary” are gone. People around the world pour their thoughts onto the page or screen every day in an attempt to make sense of the world around them. Yet the stigma remains.

We see this discomfort a lot in men. During the 70s, 80s, and 90s, many young boys grew up hearing phrases like “Journals are for sissies” and “A real man doesn’t need to feel...we suppress our emotions to be strong.”

I hate the word ‘toxic’. It’s become a buzzword applied to anything and anyone just because it's outside our world view. But for a long time, people instilled these shitty values in guys. It squashed potential expression and emotional connection. For many men, starting a journal can be difficult… and liberating. They discover things about themselves while they discover how a journal can help them.

But it isn’t just men. Remember the young girl crying on the bed? Many young ladies were told to pour their souls onto the page. To let everything out. To connect with their emotions. There is a difference between 'connecting with' and 'drowning in'. This is just as harmful as it can breed victim mentalities and catch people in emotional loops. Girls were so caught up in how they felt that they never tried to understand and correct underlying causes.

I hear you out there. “That wasn’t me.” “I was never like that.” “You are generalising and stereotyping sexes.” Yes. These are huge blanket generalisations. These are stereotypes. This is not everyone. But in general, women connect to their emotions better. In general, men are more, let’s say, "stoic" (see: repressed).

Both are strengths in moderation. And both are weaknesses when out of balance. Lack of balance creates “toxicity”. But this is how many people see and stereotype writing in a journal. This is how stigmas form.

In truth, journal writing offers both sexes the same thing in opposite ways. It can help strengthen resolve against bullshit stereotypes and discomfort. It can help connect with things already inside us, but we aren’t willing to let them out. Men can overcome the misguided fallacy of “A strong man is…” and connect with their emotions. Thus, becoming a stronger man. Ladies can push through the swamp of emotions and find strength through logic. Thus becoming more aware and better connected to their emotions.

Here’s a list of reasons to write in a journal. It looks like a TL:DR (Too Long: Don’t Read) but bullet points make everything simple. Which one's can you relate to?

  • To Inspire and motivate
  • Reflection
  • Create drive.
  • Emotional connection and understanding
  • Deal with trauma and affliction
  • Creative expression
  • Map existing business and project ideas
  • Note and explore new ideas.
  • Write new business and artistic ideas.
  • Identify positive and negative emotional, mental, and physical behaviors
  • Create positive habits
  • Understand ourselves and the world.
  • Deal with emotional trauma (past and present).
  • Identify and understand emotional loops that are affecting my life in this moment.
  • Write the keywords, thoughts and ideas going through your mind that you don't address.
  • Reflect on your day and where you are right now.
  • Questions yourself - Who you are? What you are doing? Where are you?
  • Write about what’s troubling you? Why do you feel trapped?
  • Write the questions running through your head, but you refuse to acknowledge and answer.
  • Addiction and mental health issues.
  • Gratitude and reflection on the things that make you happy.
  • Identify what’s important to you.
  • Identify what takes up time but leaves you thinking, “Why did I just spend X hours on that?”
  • Get shit out of your head and on the page.
  • Keep a record of what is happening, where you have been, and where you want to go.
  • Getting words on the page makes them real. Once they stare you in the face, you cannot take them back. They are there and you have to take notice.

This list is becoming long as fuck and you are seeing a lot of repetition, right? Yup. Everyone’s inner dialogue is different. We ask the same questions and think the same thoughts a million different ways. Read on…

  • Find what make you happy.
  • Find what makes you sad.
  • Find what makes you angry.
  • Find what scares you.
  • Find what makes you uncomfortable.
  • Find what excites you.
  • Ask yourself the hard questions.
  • Give yourself a safe place. A place to say what you want, feel what you want, without being judged (by others. We can’t guarantee you won’t judge yourself)
  • Ask your inner judge, “Why?”
  • Tell your inner judge to “Fuck off!”
  • Write ideas… and then expand on them.
  • Write your dreams.
  • Question those dreams. Are they important? Are they worth pursuing?
  • Let unimportant dreams go. And turn those that matter into goals.
  • Work out the first step to achieving those goals…
  • Then the second…
  • Then the third.
  • Note and celebrate your compounding achievements.
  • Write and examine your failures.
  • Reflect on your failures.
  • Note and celebrate your failures
  • Learn from your failures and find the positives you can take away from them. (We fail at things. We are never "Failures")
  • Note things that inspire you - Sights, sounds, smells, words.
  • Ask “why” they inspire you.
  • Keep notes of quotes and words that inspire you and make you question.
  • Dig deep and face the things that scare you.
  • Identify who you are, what makes you - YOU.
  • Write things you like about yourself. What brings you peace and what do you want to continue?
  • Write what you don’t like about yourself. What would you change? How can you change?
  • Write positive and negative behaviors and how they affect your life.
  • Write about positive and negative people surrounding you.
  • Who makes you happy and adds value to your existence?
  • Who do you need to cut from your life?
  • Who do you respect and want to emulate?
  • What behaviours do you see in others (and yourself) that you want to avoid?
  • Write the traits and behaviours inside you that you can teach others.
  • Write artistic ideas. If you’re an artist, make those ideas visual.
  • Question - Everything.
  • Change - What you need to.
  • Work out - What's in your control. In any situation.
  • Change - What's in your control.
  • Accept - What's outside your control.
  • Emotional writing.
  • Logical writing
  • Productive writing
  • Identifying and breaking emotional loops.
  • Question and understand your emotions. What is the logic?
  • A place to note and detail how to be productive.
  • A planner to help you segment ideas and create an efficient work-flow.
  • Explore and expand on ideas.
  • Character development for a novel.
  • Create a creative outlet.
  • Private notes that bother you.
  • Finding positive patterns and building on them.
  • Understanding where you want to head and why.
  • Record keeping for where you are heading.
  • Seeing progression on for where you are heading.
  • Being accountable.
  • Identifying good behaviors.
  • Identifying shitty behaviors.
  • Keep a record of unfamiliar words and behaviors that you feel an affinity with.
  • Keep a record and allow yourself to discard behaviors.
  • Enjoy the smell of ink on a page.
  • Go old school. Put the fucking phone down! Go on… you can do it.
  • Break doom scrolling and thumb flying. Do something a little uncomfortable.
  • Feel that hand cramp from putting ink on paper.
  • Slow your mind down and be more aware of your thoughts.
  • Feel it get easier.
  • Write a Bucket List.
  • Set a path to achieve that list.
  • Plan Travel
  • Document your travel and memories
  • Note what makes you uncomfortable.
  • Do what makes you uncomfortable.
  • Reflect on overcoming discomfort.
  • Create a habit in your life.
  • Create a positive habit in your life.
  • Replace negative habits.
  • Practice writing and questioning things in life you take for granted.
  • Ground yourself in an activity.
  • Centre yourself while writing.
  • Find peace in letting something out.
  • Work through the things that create stress and discomfort in everyday life.
  • See the words that affect you in a place that is safe.
  • Write about the world around you.
  • Write about the world within you.
  • Deal with Stress.
  • Deal with trauma.
  • Form and practise philosophies.

We've asked ourselves these. They are reasons we've heard from others. These are aspects of life we all deal with, and that writing in a journal can help with. We can make sense of ourselves in a private, safe place.

The stigma is that writing in a journal is hard. Starting anything new is hard… But it is simple. Writing words on a page is simple. Allowing ourselves to be open and honest (with ourselves) might not be easy… But giving ourselves permission is simple. Finding strength to confront and accept what comes out can be hard… But letting it out is simple.

Everyone can find a benefit in journal writing. Reasons for writing vary as much as the benefits of writing. But you will never know what benefits await you until you try it. Start writing today, and for better or worse… see what happens.

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