When I was a teenager, I hated reading last year’s journal. I would get mad at myself for the immature things I had written the year before.
I would read about last year’s crush and lament “How on earth did I see anything in him? I was crazy to like that boy- he was so not worth it!” or I’d read a description of a new outfit I’d bought and cringe at Younger Me’s lack of style.
I found reading those old journals a painful ordeal. It always ended up with the diary going into the garbage as I drowned in self-condemnation and teenager angst.
Over the years, however, I’ve learned to be a little kinder to myself. These days I like to read through old journals. Instead of criticising Younger Me, I reflect more philosophically on all that I’ve been through and learned in the different seasons of life.
Through the discipline of daily, pen-to-paper journaling, I’ve awakened my inner coach to give me positive and constructive criticism. (I see the inner coach as a dimension of my own healthy conscience, an encouraging inner voice that I’ve developed through prayer and journaling). I’ve learned to talk to myself constructively as I identify areas where I need to change.
These days I am realistic about my strengths and weaknesses, because spiritual growth is a gradual process and it doesn’t help to beat myself up.
Through prayer and journaling my self-awareness has blossomed- but I don’t mean that I’ve become a narcissist: far from it. Yes, I’m more aware of my own feelings, but I’m also in a stronger position to help other people. This greater awareness benefits everyone around me. As a Christian, I believe I have God on the inside of me and spiritual strength is always available.
I lead a busy life as a freelance journalist and wife. But I believe in setting aside time for prayer and meditation, and journaling helps me to be reflective and intentional in this spiritual walk.
It’s my belief that through many conversations, often within the pages of my journal, God has guided me and empowered me to love myself and love others. This has involved letting go of past mistakes and a poor self-concept.
You can’t love other people properly if you’re looking backwards - you have to let go of the past, forgive and be forgiven. Writing therapy is a wonderful tool on this journey.
Journaling gives you a safe place to be honest with yourself. You can let out the pain of past failures and disappointments, and live joyfully in the present moment. We all have a destiny and we all have God-given dreams. Journaling helps us find them and live them.
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Lyn Alderson is a professional journalist, blogger and author, based in the English Midlands.
She has 25 years’ experience of writing news and features for UK newspapers and magazines.To find out more about Lyn and her work visit http://lacopywriting.co.uk
If you want to find out more about the health benefits of keeping a journal, check out Lyn's e-book The Write Therapy: How Keeping a Journal Can Make You Happier, Healthier and More Productive available from the Amazon Kindle Store