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LostInParadise's avatar

Can there be therapeutic value in keeping a journal?

Asked by LostInParadise (28379points) October 25th, 2011

I tried this in the past. The problem was that I tended to write in it when I was feeling my worst. At some point I decided to read back what I wrote. It was all rants and drivel, rather cringeworthy. It seems to me that a more disciplined approach is required.

One technique that I sometimes use when trying to solve a problem is to engage in a written dialog with myself. I write down a question and try to answer it. Nothing gets crossed out or erased. If I don’t like an answer, I will write down my objections.

I wonder if a similar approach would work in keeping a diary. I like that it provides a focus and direction.

Do you now or have you in the past done any journaling? Do you have any recommendations on how to go about it?

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6 Answers

Aethelflaed's avatar

Well, did writing the rants and drivel help you at the time? Because there’s really no need to go back and read it if that part doesn’t work for you. For me, the whole point of writing a journal is to be able to get it out of my system, not to be able to go back and read it; worrying about how angry or stupid or crazy or whatever I’m coming across as really hinders the therapeutic process for me because it means I’m never allowed to fully express myself even with me (and shouldn’t I be the one person I’m always totally honest and expressive with?) But I never go back and read it (with some small exceptions for traumatic incidents, where I’m exceptionally likely to distort or dissociate later on).

LostInParadise's avatar

Being able to vent helped at the time, but I do not think there was any long term value. I am willing to accept hurt and anger, but there needs to be a process of coming to grips with it and moving beyond it.

Bellatrix's avatar

I was about to say exactly what @Aethelflaed said in her first sentence. Journalling (one L or two? My on-line dictionary says one, but fluther wants two) can be therapeutic certainly. What is your purpose for keeping a journal? To record your activities? To record your feelings? To see how well you have moved on from a traumatic situation? Okay, so you vented when going through something, but how do you feel now about that situation? Are you calmer about the situation? Do you have a different perspective than you did?

I think how effective a journal is can only be decided by you once you know why you are journalling in the first place.

marinelife's avatar

Your approach sounds legitimate.

smilingheart1's avatar

I sure found there was @LostInParadise. I found it a great sounding board for getting out those pent up feelings and aggravations over issues. My note writing landed on whatever I had at the time…backs of McDonalds placemats, odd pieces of paper, and some on purpose places like loose leaf and partly filled notebooks. I have many boxes of these stacked up in my storage room to this day. I am thinking it might be time for a wholesale shredding or burning. Because ‘tis true, who does want to go back over all that once it has served its initial purpose?

Now diary keeping is the thing I wish I had have done thorugh those family years. A chronicle of days events, snippets of feelings, responses, reactions to those happenings and I do believe I would have even recorded local temperatures and any key world events for the day. I still could but I feel in such a lighter place of life that I just want to “smell the roses” of life day by day and let their essence waft away after.

wundayatta's avatar

I think so. It helps to write out what you are thinking and feeling. I don’t know why. It just does. Maybe it helps you clear your thoughts. Maybe it’s a way of telling yourself what you are thinking. Sometimes the words come from another part of your brain and you can’t receive them inside your brain, but your hand writes it down so you can become consciously aware of it. That would be very therapeutic, I think.

I write on fluther to find out what I think. That’s how I think of it. I usually don’t know what I“m going to say until it comes out of my fingers. Maybe it’s there, anyway, but I don’t bother to think it. When I write, I have to initiate and complete a thought, and usually it’s news to me. I don’t keep a journal. My few attempts at it were abortive because I need someone to write to. I cannot explicitly write to myself, even though I believe that underneath all this surface belief I am writing to you all, I am at least partly writing to myself.

But others can write to themselves directly, and I think that works if you can work it. So I think it is therapeutic.

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