Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Guest Post Wed: Journaling and Personal Growth

Personal growth is the hot topic of the day. You'll notice that nearly every magazine you see, no matter whether it targets men or women, has one thing in common with all the rest: at least one article encouraging some kind of personal growth. These articles tell you about "empowerment," about growing as a person, about controlling your destiny, taking your life in both hands, and following your dreams. Do you need a magazine to tell you to take control of your life? Certainly not! You know deep in your heart whether your life is under control and moving in the direction you want for yourself, or whether you need to take measures to enable that self-control. Here is where you can use journaling to encourage personal growth.

Journaling is a very old practice. Logs and field notebooks have been used by scientists, explorers, and travelers for centuries. During the Renaissance of the 14th through 17th centuries, journaling was extremely popular, as a focus upon the image of the self became important. In the mid-20th century, journaling once again became fashionable. It is often used by people on a spiritual quest, and by many psychotherapists who ask patients to record their thoughts and feelings prior to therapy appointments. Aside from all these uses of journaling, the fact remains that journals do have healing properties for the individual who creates one. Anyone who keeps a journal for any length of time is almost guaranteed to experience personal growth, and a recognition of the part journaling plays in that growth.

The reason journaling works in encouraging personal growth is that it is effective in assisting a person to let go. Everyone has different issues that need to be resolved and dismissed, or problems that should be faced and dealt with so the person can grow up and move on. Many of these problems or issues are likely to be very deeply buried, since they originated in childhood. Others can be more recent, such as a broken relationship, concerns about work, or the death of a loved one. In any case, these issues are blocking our personal growth. We need to bring them to the surface, examine them carefully, allow our reaction to them to be fully experienced -- and then to let them go.

For real growth to occur, a person needs a forum where any anxiety, stress, or depression can be aired and dismissed. Only then will that person be able to open herself to new possibilities and new challenges. A journal provides that forum. When you write down your concerns in detail, as well as your feelings about those concerns, you leave rationalization behind and see the concerns for what they really are. Then you are able to begin your growth.

When you have cleared your mind of old issues, there is space within you for new ones. Journaling can help you deal with these as they arise, just as it helped you let go of old ghosts and demons. By continuing to write in a journal, you can continually assess your progress and note any problems that begin to affect you. Remember that when you air your issues, they will no longer trouble you. Journaling is perhaps the only satisfactory outlet for this, because your journal is the only place where you can pour your heart out without any problems of trust and confidentiality. It's almost like free therapy!

Finally, when you have come to terms with your old concerns, it's time to set yourself some new goals and targets. Writing a list of these in your journal will encourage your journey towards them every time you read the words. Writing goals down makes them achievable; for you to write them in the first place, you must believe that they are achievable. If they are written on paper, they are somehow real; they take on corporeality. Journaling in this way involves letting go of the past, living in the moment, and planning for the future, all at once! Only journaling can assist you in this process with no ulterior motive.

Copyright © Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ

1 comment:

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