Journaling serves many purposes. By hands down my favorite is journaling for emotional healing.
Not healing your emotions keeps you stuck in the past.
Burying your emotions does not mean you are strong.
In fact, when you hide your emotions and don’t deal with them they turn into physical issues – both today and down the road.
Yet, healing your emotions can be as painful and difficult as the original problem.
And it can take time that most of us don’t have.
Luckily there is a way that can help you understand and heal your emotions quickly.
Allowing you to free yourself of the past and keep your physical health.
That way is journaling.
Journaling allows you to explore any situation, discover your feelings about it and then shift them to a healthier space.
Below I will share with you my process for writing about my emotions. Then I will cover more ways to process your feelings after you journal.
I have used this method for a few years now. I can say it has not only helped me understand my emotions, but probably saved my long-term health. (Which had been steadily declining – even with working out and eating healthy).
Steps to Process and Understand Your Emotions
- 1Write out the story of what happened. Put as many details down 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.
- 2Put as many details down 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.
- 3Come up with alternative views. This is not about creating a false version to share with friends, but more about how other people might see it. If a third party was watching everything would they see things different? This step can be hard, because part of it includes admitting where you were wrong. Where you might have been more of the problem than you are ready to admit. Most of the time there is a middle ground of what happened. Try and find that.
- 4Ask yourself how you could re-frame what happened. While this could be like alternative views what you are looking to do is adjust how you look at everything. For example, if you view your divorce as a bad thing, come up with a re-frame that allows you to see the positives. I know personally I thought mine was horrible and I was a failure. 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!)
- 5Ask questions about the beliefs you hold that can be impacting the situation. While subconscious beliefs can be hard to dig up, the more you allow yourself to free write the faster those beliefs come to the surface. You can also ask yourself what from your past may be triggering this belief. See if you can find a situation in the past that was similar and created new emotions.
- 6Play the counselor to dig into the story. Pretend like you are your own counselor. Dig into your story like you are being paid to do so.
- 7Keep 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.
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.
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.
If you are looking for journal prompts specific to emotional healing, check out my post on journaling prompts for healing.
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.
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.
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!