Intentional Journaling

If you’re anything like me then you might think journaling is pointless, the same way that I did two years ago. I was writing down my thoughts, sometimes feeling like a weight was lifted, but most times wondering “What is the point of this?” If you’ve come to a “What’s the Point” conclusion on journaling, I’m here to help!
I have been keeping a journal since the second grade. Before I had any real issues I scribbled about the vacation my family was on, how my brother didn’t want to play basketball with me, or how I was excited to do my science project. Although I wasn’t working through any issues then, I liked the idea of recording my life so I would be able to revisit it whenever I needed to. Fast forward 15 years and I still feel the same. Keeping record of my life helps me see my spiritual, personal, and intellectual growth. Occasionally I read through my old journals whenever I need guidance, a good laugh, or a reminder of how strong I am. But this wouldn’t be possible if I was journaling all willy nilly.
When I moved away to college I realized that some issues I was going to have to face on my own, so I decided to make my journaling intentional. Here are a few practices that help me get the most out of my writing!

1. Set the Mood

A space that is free of distraction is necessary when attempting to journal intentionally because it enhances focus. To limit distractions, I place my phone in another room, turn on my journaling playlist and light some candles. Candles + music relax the body which reduces anxiety and hesitation. When writing while relaxed I am not afraid of the word that is coming next or judging what I’m saying. I simply write until my heart is empty. I’ve also found that the music in my playlist supports whatever emotion I’m already feeling, so I am able to easily articulate my thoughts. The music reassures me that it is normal to embrace my loneliness, confusion, doubt, joy, love, growth and dreams, and provides me with the language to articulate that.
Everyone’s journaling experience is not going to be the same. You may like to write in a public space and focus on your writing to help block out the noise. Or you may enjoy listening to Country Music over R&B because they tell better stories. Whatever your preference, take the time to create an environment you are comfortable writing in so that your words carry their maximum meaning.

2. Write Someone a Letter

But don’t read it to them. Although I am a firm believer in holding people accountable for how they make you feel, it may not always be the appropriate time. So write it down, and revisit later. This can help you release your frustration (or whatever you’re feeling) almost immediately, without doing something you’ll regret. I also find this helpful when I’m not exactly sure what I want to say to someone about how they made me feel. I’ll write about it until my emotions can be communicated, then decide if I’m ever going to tell the person. From writing these letters I’ve noticed that a lot of the issues I have with people stem from miscommunication, misunderstanding, or insecurities so sometimes I don’t need to have a conversation with them, I just need to work on myself. But there are times when my letters make complete and perfect sense and I’m not at fault. When those precious letters are written I do share bits and pieces with the person if I feel it will benefit our relationship.
I also write these letters when I want to celebrate someone. I am extremely emotional so the smallest gesture could mean so much to me and I don’t want to freak people out with my unwarranted affection, so sometimes I write my friends fan mail.
Writing the letter is simple. I begin with “Dear _____” and then pour my heart out. It is important to keep in mind that they will never read this letter, to ensure that you are writing down your genuine feelings.
Whether you are trying to avoid an argument or want to thank your best friend for holding the door open for you, I encourage you to write them a letter. Tell me how you feel afterwards!

3. Draw a Conclusion

Journaling is a great form of venting, but it is not always the most effective way of reaching personal growth. At the end of every session I reread what I wrote and write down the next steps. What did I learn from the situation I just wrote about? What was my contribution to the issue? How can I grow form this? If I’m drawing a conclusion from one of my letters, my questions look something like Where did my issue stem from? How can I better communicate to this person? What did I do to warrant their action? How does this change my relationship with them going forward? I don’t actually write the questions down, but I do keep them in mind while I’m writing my closing 3-4 sentences. This gives me closure. It helps me to feel like I didn’t spend an hour cramping my hand for no reason. It also improves my problem solving skills by forcing me to evaluate a situation and find a solution.
When starting out, your conclusion may look like “I will not allow others to invalidate my feelings” or “I am so thankful for my friends” and that is an awesome start. With time your conclusions will become so substantial you’ll want to publish them to the National Journal of Psychology.

4. Reflect

Every couple of months review your entries. Pay attention to how your reaction to certain things, and your interpretation of peoples’ actions has changed. Your articulation of your emotions has become easier and you are beginning to communicate better. Acknowledge how much your thinking + your relationships have grown. Believe it or not, it is not easy to be honest with ourselves. We feel that if we can trick everyone else into believing we are who we want to be, then we can do the same for ourselves. Intentional journaling is one step towards actually becoming who we can to be. So celebrate yourself! You deserve it.
For one one one guided journaling practices contact me at To share your own intentional journaling practices please share on Instagram @BellaCreatives_  and/or Twitter @BellaCreatives.
Until next time Creatives, stay beautiful.


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