They say the pen is mightier than the sword, and for good reason. Seeing our innermost thoughts and feelings on the page can be a hugely beneficial thing, allowing us to express ourselves in a safe space, and process our experiences. Here, psychotherapist Bhavna explores the powerful practice of journaling, and how you can harness it, too
While it’s not a recent phenomenon, journaling has become a fast-growing staple of those curious to explore their inner lives. As a psychotherapist, one of the most powerful techniques I offer clients is an invitation to journal. Many people can be apprehensive of writing at first – some may have had traumatic experiences connected with writing, for example people with dyslexia, or those from an older generation who were severely punished for being left-handed.
Apprehension is absolutely understandable, however, the incredible power of using the written word to travel into the inner sanctum of your being is worth it. And, if it doesn’t work for you, you have lost nothing. But, if it does work, you have access to one of the most powerful self-help techniques created, for free! Writing as a form of therapy has transformed the lives of many hundreds of my clients, and myself.
A page is like a wise and non-judgemental companion, a witness to your most scared and private thoughts. Let’s look at why the act of writing (with a real pen or pencil, not a keyboard) can produce what feel like miraculous results.
Our memories are stored in our brain and body as chemical signatures. As you write, an incredible chemical reaction takes place in your brain. Those memories, made up of thoughts and feelings, are transformed in real time into words. Words that express, process, and translate what you are feeling and thinking. Sentences that describe, explore, challenge, accept, wonder, and question what is going on in your head. Words connect us to our soul, enabling us to communicate our joy, sadness, disappointments, triumphs, needs, dreams, and desires. Everything is made up of words!
Now, imagine taking control of this powerful organ, the brain, and beginning to understand how it works in your life. Learning its secrets through the written word, and seeing it come alive on the page before you; that is the magic of journaling.
My clients are offered many different forms of writing as part of our work. Writing for a few minutes daily allows us to connect with ourselves. Write whatever is coming to your mind: are you worried, angry, sad, happy, or excited? Write it down. As you do this, you will begin to see patterns emerge in relation to your thinking style. Are you generally positive, glass half full? You can then take the patterns – for example feeling anxious – and write about that, asking yourself questions such as: Why do I feel anxious? Where does it come from? When did it start? Why is it present in my life? Is it your ‘stuff’? If not, whose is it, and what keeps it there