Journaling is one of the best ways to understand and heal your emotions. In this article I am going to cover why this is true. How to begin to start to journal about your feelings. Plus, what to do with what you discover, so you can heal even faster.
Journaling for emotional healing has been the number one way that I have personally dealt with emotional trauma, limiting beliefs and more.
Over the past four years, it has helped me deal with my divorce and a multitude of issues that lead to me being a people pleaser and never valuing myself. Journaling for emotional healing, has been a true lifesaver for me.
Below I will share with you my process for writing about my feelings.
How Do You Heal Through Journaling?
Healing through your journal is not just an old wives tale. It has been research by scientist as a valid and productive way to heal through journaling.
One of the biggest ways that it does so, is that when you write about your feelings it calms your amygdala. The amygdala manages your emotions. So, when you are feeling really intense emotions your amygdala is in overdrive. Writing slows you down and allows you better access to the rational part of your brain. (For more details)
When you pair this calmed state with the ability to sort through different situations is a safe space with no judgement, your emotional health can see drastic improvement.
Journaling Techniques for Emotional Healing
Write Your Story
Simply writing your story can have an impact on how you feel about different situations. Similar to venting to your best friend or counselor, writing that instead will make you feel better.
The key here is to be as detailed as possible, this is not something to bullet point out. You want to include emotions, regrets, judgements. Everything that will help you understand the situation better.
Consider Different Views of a Situation
Imagine that you are a neutral party viewing the situation you experienced. What might they see that you don't want to? This approach can be very difficult. It requires you to see where you might have been wrong. Or where you were not acknowledging the other person's feelings. Most of the time there is a middle ground to what happened.
This is not to invalidate your feelings, but instead to understand your role better.
Re-Frame Your View of Your Beliefs
Often our beliefs about a situation cause more harm than the actual situation.
For example, if you view your divorce as a bad thing, come up with a re-frame that allows you to see the positives.
Personally, I thought mine meant that I was a failure. That I was not good enough to make it last. Now I see it as my best mistake. The one thing in my life that has allowed me to grow the most. Without it, I would not be the person I am today. (And I love who I am today!)
A great way to get to the limiting beliefs that are causing pain, is to ask yourself what from your past may be triggering your beliefs about the situation. We often encounter the same limiting beliefs in different situations. Finding the common situation can help you figure out why you are suffering.
Use a Why Ladder
Keep asking the question ‘why’ until there are no answers. This is called a why ladder. It is a great way to find the true core of a situation. Too often we stop at the surface level and never get to the real issue. Keep going till you know the answer.
Healing Journal Prompts
Journal prompts are a great way to get to the source of your pain, without having to be your own guide. Here are 6 that I like to use for emotional healing.
Why are you looking for approval?
Ideally we don't need anyone to approve or validate us. But we are not all raised this way, and instead we have to begin to search for why we are looking for approval.
Typically once we find that we can uncover the limiting belief that is blocking our self love. This we can heal and allow ourselves to be free of trying to fit in.
Am I fully acknowledging my feelings?
Feeling our feelings can be scary.
Especially when they are bad. But only when we allow ourselves to feel them and acknowledge they are there, can we begin to heal them.
So what feelings are you trying to hide and bury?
How am I numbing my feelings?
If you are finding it difficult to acknowledge your feelings, it may help to determine how you are numbing them.
Once you know how you try to avoid them, you can begin to stop before that and try and figure out what the feeling is.
Then heal the emotion versus numbing it.
What am I 100% in control of today?
When things are tough we can feel like we have no control over anything.
Yet when we stop and realize exactly how much in our lives we do control, it can be easier to begin the healing work you need.
This was a big one for me when going through my divorce. Once I saw what I could control, it was easier to see the feelings that I needed to heal.
What positive changes have come from this difficult time?
It is often hard to hear this, especially in the middle of those hard times. Yet when we look at every situation with the the idea that we are going to learn and grow it becomes easier.
How is this good for emotional healing? First while you are in it you can use this to help you find what needs healed. Second, knowing that down the road things will be better can help a ton.
I personally found many things that needed emotional healing by looking at it from the idea that I could grow from every situation.
What other areas of life have I had a similar problem in?
Limiting beliefs and old emotional wounds will typically mess around with multiple areas of your life.
Look for the pattern to figure out what the beliefs are that you need healed.
For example, a limiting belief that you are not good enough will show up in relationships, money and career. Find the similar problems, and it is easier to heal the cause.
Looking for more journal prompts? I have a book of 109 of them! You can get it on most ebook retailers and in print at Amazon.
Tips for These Techniques
- You can do this more than one time with each situation. Going back to it on different days. After processing parts of each situation, it can release more feelings and breakthroughs. Getting to the core of the issue is like peeling an onion. Each layer shows you a new layer.
- I know you don't want to hear this, but this process can also take years. As you have more life experiences you begin to see the past in different ways. It can be uncanny how this occurs. I recently realized how impactful a conversation with one of my parents was to my view on safely expressing my opinion. While I have remembered this conversation vividly since middle school, it was not till my 40’s that I fully understood its full impact on my beliefs.
- Don’t stop journaling because you healed one emotion, keep up the practice. It will pay off in surprising ways when you least expect it.
What to Do After You Journal About Emotions
Once you have gone over everything in your journal it is time to make the emotional healing permanent. Sometimes journaling is enough to make a lasting change. But sometimes you need an extra boost to heal and change your beliefs.
There are three main things that I do to make changes lasting after journaling.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping)
- Asking for help
I will go through each one briefly to share what I do to use each based on what I discover in journaling.
Emotional Freedom Technique (Tapping)
Hands down this is my favorite tool to shift a belief, relieve pain and so much more.
After journaling about a situation, I will write a summary list of my feelings that I discovered. Then I will figure out which of the emotions are hindering my progress the most.
I then turn these into my tapping set-up statement. I then proceed to tap on the situation and emotions using what I journaled.
I personally don’t do a set number of rounds or write everything out ahead of time. Just like with journaling when I free write, I free tap!
It is amazing what comes out that you did not expect. When you just let your thoughts flow the truth loves to appear. Part of this is because tapping relaxes your amygdala, so you can get into touch with what is behind your anxiety.
I will tap through this situation and feelings until I feel like I have had a break through. If that is taking too long. I stop, re-asses where I am at and then go back to it later. This can sometimes include another round of journaling so see if more can come to light.
Sometimes I decide that instead of tapping I want to use a guided meditation. This is typically when I still feel like there may be more to come out and I am just not sure exactly what to tap on.
A guided meditation will allow my mind to stop doing the work and allow someone else to guide me through a series. My subconscious can take over and allow healing or a release of new information. (For More information on how to access your subconscious mind.)
I use this meditation app: Insight. It has hundreds of free guided meditations on all different types of topics.
I also have some meditations that I have from classes I have taken. So, depending on what you are working on you may consider looking for a class to work though that specific issue. Look for ones that include meditations, so you can integrate everything.
Not into meditation, don't think it is for you? Try movement meditation first!
When I am stuck and need help I head to my counselors, call a friend or talk to a coach. Depending on how stuck you are will determine what level of help that you go for.
Remember you can’t do everything alone so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Some of my biggest leaps have been made from advice and help from others.
I have had issues where I call my counselor, best friend, sister and cousin to review the same thing! The more help you can get the better.
Need more tools to help with the emotional healing? I have an entire article on the tools I use for emotional healing. Check it out!
Remember that as you process your emotions, you will change and evolve. This means you may come back to the exact same situation a few months or years later and have a different view of it. Thus, you can’t stop working on yourself. Lessons can be learned, and emotions can be healed years later.
There is no right or wrong in this process. You need to do what works for you. Allow yourself to learn and not do things by a text book plan. Experimenting will help you learn how to journal better.
When you heal your emotions, you allow yourself to be healed on many levels. So not only do you feel happier, but you also will have better health, a clearer mind and more spiritual insights.
What are you waiting for? Go Journal!