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Journaling

By Julie Dieterle

Journaling — to track or record occurrences, experiences; reflections kept on a regular basis.

I recently read a magazine article where a psychiatrist suggested that journaling regularly about a traumatic event or relationship is a bad thing because it keeps you repeating the situation over and over again, not allowing you to move forward or release it, but actually digs the trauma hole deeper into our consciousness. I’m not so sure about that. Whether we repeat writing about a routine or a traumatic event I suspect, eventually, we look at what we wrote and contemplate about it. We might conclude about a past traumatic relationship—I hate them. Boy, that was horrible, I remember feeling angry then, now it still burns me! Later, I might notice ”I’m SICK of writing about this, I’m TIRED of feeling angry, my anger hasn’t changed in all this time.” On further in time, I might note, “I see my words are different, I see my pen writing is not as deep on the paper.” I might ask the question—“Do I FEEL different about it now?”

My parents both kept diaries or journals — which the dictionary seems to think are interchangeable terms, by the way — and I found them rather boring. They included meals, tasks, appointments, family contacts and actions. What did it mean to them? Why did they find this occupation so worth continuing? Did it help pass the time, give them finger typing exercises and memory checks? Comfort about the daily cycle continuing?

In the case of daily routine logging in, I might contemplate — I really eat the same things over and over. I remember when my granddaughter… I think I’ll call…  Last Fourth of July we…  I’d like to ….again. You know I did that better this time. I can’t imagine eating that much now.

It is easy to be busy, to go through our day on “auto-pilot”. It seems to me, really reviewing the day and how I felt and what I reacted to, really looking at what we are doing or thinking about can tell us a lot. Can we turn off “auto-pilot”, notice what we are doing and perhaps question why or how we are doing it, and think about our choices and responses. What are we dragging along in our “baggage” again? Could we go through the next day seeing everything as NEW, next step up for grabs, being more aware of our thoughts and feelings?

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