It may sound too good to be true, just journal for emotional healing. Can simply putting pen to paper really help you make sense of your story? Help you recover from abuse? Create healthy emotional balance that allows you not just to survive, but to thrive?
Short answer? Yes!
I am not just saying that either. “Many psychological and medical studies have shown that writing about difficulties and dreams helps people experience increased happiness, health, and productivity” (from Heal By Writing About Your Trauma by Randi Kreger).
Finding Meaning in the Mess
I too have found that writing about my experiences has helped me heal the trauma of my past. Whether in articles for SwanWaters, or by journaling on our forum, writing down my stories, the feelings and thoughts that are associated with them, and how those influence(d) me, always increases my insights. It helps me make connections, and drives me to come to conclusions that I could not otherwise have seen.
“When I began writing my memoir on both difficult and abusive experiences in the church, I also discovered that many of the difficult experiences molded me into who I am now. I could never have found this meaning had I not sat at the feet of my own life and asked questions of it” (from Heal By Writing About Your Trauma by Randi Kreger).
It is the questioning that really increases your understanding of what happened. Not just the ‘why’, but bigger questions like ‘how’ or ‘with what result’. I have also found that this is where the SwanWaters forum has added value. Because you are writing in a supportive and private environment, you can share freely. You do however still have the benefit of your peers commenting, questioning and validating your experiences, all while cheering you on too.
By discussing your writing with peers, you can further deepen your understanding and healing. I thank everyone on the forum for helping me find more meaning in the mess.
Prunes For the Soul
While recovering from abuse our emotions can really get on top of us. I have found that writing down how I feel not only helps me understand where feelings are coming from, it also makes it easier to let go of the negative emotions. Or in other words: a healthy emotional process means that we take in our life experiences, process them for nutrients, find what we need to grow and survive, and then expel the garbage.
“Many of us simply hold onto our emotions, storing them away in our bodies, and we become emotionally constipated, unable to let go of that which isn’t helping us in any way. Eventually, when our system gets too backed up, we get sick. We can no longer function as we should. We become sluggish, unresponsive, depressed” (from Why Write? Emotional Healing by Amber Lea Starfire).
So really, your journal is like prunes for the soul, something that helps you regulate…
A Journal Keeps Track of Your Journey
The road to recovery may seem endless, your journal is a great way to keep track of your progress. I love reading older posts I did, because they show me the lengths I have come. More often than not, rereading previous entries change and increase my insights on topics again. Looking at stories and previous observation in the light of new insight, is very helpful.
The journal will prove a worthy companion on your road to healing. It will show you the places you’ve been and the progress that you have made.
From For Adult Survivors of Emotional Child Abuse on The Invisible Scar)
Writing regularly and recoding your thoughts over an extended period of time, also allows you to see patterns and perhaps discover some of your triggers, fleas and allergies.
How to Journal for Emotional Healing?
Don’t worry about grammar, spelling or formatting. Just get going and keep going. You can always edit later if you feel conscious about this.
Just follow the Yellow Brick Road. In other words, just go where your thoughts take you. Even if you are using a journaling prompt, don’t worry about being on or off topic.
Write regularly (remember those prunes!). Developing a habit around your journaling is great. Just block about 20 to 30 minutes ever day or every week to write. You will find that it becomes easier and more effective with more practice.
Aim for about 750 words (that is 3 pages if you are going by hand). That is really just a minimum amount, and mostly a guideline. Writing anything less just does not push you to the same depth of thinking. You will lose an opportunity to dig around in your own mind. Less insight means less healing.
Looking for some more journaling inspiration? Check out 10 Journaling Tips to Help You Heal, Grow and Thrive on The Tiny Buddha.