By Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, CPCC
Journaling is a process of writing about your experiences, organizing your thoughts, and expressing your feelings through personal writing. Journaling can be very important and highly effective for men, considering the general taboo that still surrounds men, in some cases, in relation to expressing their inner dialogue, feelings, and vulnerabilities.
As the Director of the International Association for Journal Writing, I regularly connect with journal writers from around the world. I am always curious about why people journal. What do people get, or want to gain, from journaling?
I have recently been interviewing men about why and how they journal for an upcoming Men Who Journal speaker’s series. I was unsure how easy it would be to find men who journal and even more eager to learn how open they might be to speaking about their experiences with journal writing. So far, the men I have connected with have been keen to share their reasons for, and the benefits they gain, from journaling.
For example, Tristan Brew, a public relations expert, had this to say about his experience of journaling:
LM: How long have you been journaling?
TB: I have been journaling since I was about 14 years old. Over the last 17 years my habit to write has come and gone due to a number of reasons. However, I am writing and journaling now and it has been some of the best time I spend.
LM: Why do you journal?
TB: I journal for a number of reasons but namely I journal so that when I speak my thoughts are clear.
LM: What benefits do you gain from it?
TB: There is so much to gain from journaling – introspection, mostly. If I’m asked a question, because of journaling I have a fast answer. I’ve also gained a level of confidence as I continue to journal in my life.
LM: What do you love about journaling?
TB: What I love most about journaling is re-reading my journals and hearing and seeing how much has changed in the world and how much I have changed too.
Here are 3 Good Reasons for Men to Journal
- Reduction in Brain Clutter and Thought Overwhelm
Your brain has a lot of thoughts swirling about every second of the day. With all the thoughts going on during your waking hours (and in your sleeping hours too, or during the night when perhaps you can’t sleep because your mind is racing), this brain clutter can contribute to feeling more tired, overwhelmed, low on energy and even burnt out.
Keeping a daily, or regular, journal allows you to get all of these thoughts out of your head and put them on paper. This helps you organize your thoughts, be more reflective and gain insights and mental relief as you journal. Once you write your thoughts down, it may be easier to visualize and structure what is important and what isn’t. You can set priorities and declutter your mind from the simple act of getting your thoughts down on paper.
- More Mindful Moments
A key benefit of journaling for men is the ability to partake in more mindful moments and clearer decision-making. Journaling is like meditating with a pen in your hand. You slow down, you think, you write. The act of physically writing in a journal brings you more fully and mindfully into the present moment.
Putting pen to paper can be a meditative practice, promoting mindfulness and inner reflection that many people are unable to achieve otherwise. As Tristan Brew said in our interview, “When I write I feel a sense of quiet that I have never been able to replicate anywhere else in my life.”
If you’re one of those people who believes mindfulness or meditation doesn’t work for you because your brain won’t shut down or you can’t sit still, journaling may be an option. Journaling may even set you on the path to other mindfulness practices in your life.
- Tap Into Your Goals and Dreams
Journaling, when done consistently, reminds you of your goals and life purposes every time you open your journal and begin writing. Men can gain deeper self-awareness from journaling including getting clearer on true goals and dreams in life.
If you are stuck or not sure of your goals, your hopes and desires can start to reveal themselves through the act of journaling itself. You might have more to say than you realize — but don’t be concerned if it feels like you have nothing to write about at first. You need to build the habit of showing up and journaling for yourself.
For men, journaling is a great way to cultivate the power of self-discipline. By journaling, and sticking with it, you are better able to access the focus and momentum you need to achieve your goals and dreams in life and work.
Remember, the idea with journaling is to write about your thoughts, feelings and experiences in a way that makes them clearer and more self-expressed. Journaling can increase your success, enrich your life, and improve your health. Give it a try and see for yourself the power of putting pen to paper!
Note: This article originally appeared in The Good Men Project
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