I have kept journals for years. It’s not just recording what happens each day, but it becomes a sort of ritual that captures who you are at the moment, and what you are going through. It’s a way of connecting with yourself, checking in on yourself and seeing where you are emotionally, physically, mentally.
I learned a long time ago not to write journals as if someone else would read them; it wasn’t as if I were Ann Frank and the whole world would someday know my life story. I learned over the years to just write it out, warts and all. Everything’s journal-worthy; there are no rules or directions; no need to sanitize—just write.
After I divorced my first husband, my journals were filled with anger, hurt, and all the bad things I wished on the man who had hurt me (he was a cheater; my one deal-breaker in marriage). In my journal, I called him every name in the book. I let out all my anger and hurt and outrage in many journals. Years later, I burned them all. Now he and our marriage are a very short memory, and there is no more anger or hurt. All that went up in smoke.
There is great power in writing out your feelings. Once they are on paper, they somehow lose their strength and their ability to hurt you. Writing has become such a daily habit that I feel off-balance if I don’t write each day.
I write down everything that’s on my mind, even the petty stuff. It’s amazing how you can be all grown up, yet something from your childhood still has the power to needle you. This is what journaling does; it acts as a conduit for the release of emotions that, if left inside, will steadily eat away at you.
Writing, for me anyway, is a way of bringing clarity to anything that’s happening in my life. I lost my mother to metastatic breast cancer in December of 2015, and my dad on April 22 of this year. It’s been a lot to process. But writing helps. It’s a way of connecting with them, remembering them, and understanding that death is just a transition.
Since I am a huge Harry Potter fan, I see my journals serving the same purpose as Professor Dumbledore’s pensieve. The pensieve was a stone bowl into which it was possible to empty thoughts out of one’s mind. As Dumbledore explained to Harry Potter, “I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind.”
We have all had those moments when our minds are too full and won’t let us rest. For me, keeping a journal is my own personal pensieve. Once I have ‘written out’ all that’s on my mind, I can be clearer in my thinking and feel more at peace.
That said, writing down your thoughts and feelings may not give you complete peace of mind, but it’s a good step in the right direction. There is just something cleansing about seeing your thoughts and feelings on paper that will help clear your mind. You no longer have to keep those hurtful and upsetting thoughts in your mind; they are already written down and you can revisit them at your leisure.
Give it a try and see how you feel. Journaling is a lot like chicken soup when you have a cold; it couldn’t hurt.