Lifestyle Design

Journaling as a Self-Reflection journey


Do you feel like your emotions are complicated and confusing? If you struggle to understand why you feel or react the ways you do, you might benefit from using a journal.

Journaling can help you appropriately identify and express your feelings to increase self-understanding.  It can really be an adventure as you journey through your self-reflection and self-discovery.

This process can really shed light on why your feelings are getting the better of you.  By simply jotting down what’s going on with you and how you feel about it, you can get a handle on your emotions.  Even when you have no idea what you are feeling, you can start journaling and those emotions will come to light.  Sometimes they are not what we expect them to be.

Writing your feelings in a journal helps increase self-understanding in four ways: 

Journaling allows you to process a particular situation or occurrence. When you write about an event, you automatically process the event through words and description. Recording the situation in writing can lead you to notice details you hadn’t noticed when the event took place, thus increasing your insight about the situation. While journaling, put aside other thoughts and just focus on the situation really focus on what you can learn from the situation.

Journaling allows you time to identify feelings about the situation. Chances are you may not have time to analyze every event as it occurs throughout the day. Labeling your feelings leads to a better understanding of how you respond in certain situations. Use “feeling” words when describing your emotions about a situation or event. Examples of feeling words are, “pumped,” “annoyed,” “ecstatic,” and “angry.” A helpful prompt to use in your journal is, “I felt __________ when ________ happened.”

Journaling allows you to see the why of the situation. Journaling provides an opportunity to fully explore your emotions about an event or situation and come to a conclusion about your feelings. Writing about your feelings can even assist you in changing negative feelings in the future, once you figure out why you felt the way you did. Knowing why you responded in a certain manner increases self-understanding and also allows opportunities for change. When completing a journal entry, consider all the reasons why you may have felt or responded in the way you did.

Re-reading your journal sheds light on your progress. When you process situations through journal writing and read about them later, you’ll likely see patterns of emotions and responses that recur in similar situations.  You might want to learn to more openly express your emotions upon identifying these patterns. Or maybe you want to work to change your pattern of responding.  Re-reading your journal might reveal unhealthy reactions to certain situations. In this case, these reviews of your entries could help you make a commitment toward more positive and helpful reactions.  Take notice of your progress over time in responding to situations in positive ways. Regardless of whether you choose to accept your feelings or make a change, you still increase your self-understanding through reviewing your journal.


You might feel confused at times and be at a loss to explain why you responded in a certain way. However, you can improve insight by reflecting further about these situations and the feelings you experienced, especially if you see patterns of similar reactions.

Sometimes your feelings are deep-rooted and go back to an incident that happened many years ago, so similar situations now trigger similar feelings. Writing and reflecting on your journal entries may help you remember the previous incidents so you can understand your feelings and decide if they benefit you now or if you wish to pursue more positive outcomes in the future.

Try journaling today to explore how you feel and respond to life events. When you do, you’ll increase self-understanding and live a healthier, fulfilling life.

Photo Credit : Colin Harris  ADE via Compfight

2 thoughts on “Journaling as a Self-Reflection journey

  1. I’m a great fan of journalling as a tool for self development. Your tip on rereading the journal rings very true to me, I usually leave spaces around journal entries and go back in a make some art to fill the spaces in. It makes the journal more fun for me, but more importantly, gives me an incentive to go back through my journal, It’s how I ‘trick’ myself into rereading old entries. It’s amazing how much you can gain from doing this, I’ve gained insight into so many behavioural and thinking patterns from this simple act.

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