“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”
– Virginia Woolf
One of the most challenging parts of journaling is learning how to be honest in your writing. You may know that telling the uncensored truth in your personal journal – warts and all – is an important step toward self-awareness and self-growth, but putting that knowledge into practice is often easier said than done.
It’s uncomfortable to confront the darker sides of your inner self – your fears, faults, jealousies and other thoughts and behaviors you would rather keep hidden. It’s painful to admit that sometimes you can be angry or petty or selfish. Telling your journal the truth is a surprisingly difficult task, but this process ultimately helps you come to know yourself more fully and grow in positive ways.
Tips for Journaling the Truth, Nothing But the Truth
1. Be patient with yourself.
Recognize that you are taking on a challenge, one that will take time and can’t be accomplished overnight. Be proud of the steps you make toward journal writing with honesty, however small, and encourage yourself to keep going.
2. Realize that faults don’t make you a bad person.
No one is perfect (what a relief!), so try not to beat yourself up for every shortcoming or mistake you journal about. Losing your temper with your children sometimes doesn’t make you a bad parent, and forgetting about your friend’s birthday during a busy week doesn’t make you a bad person. Explore each situation as its own event, and ask questions that help you understand your emotions and motivations more deeply.
3. Look for the lighter side.
Laughter is the best medicine. If you find that truthful journal writing is getting too serious, try to find the humor, silliness or absurdity in the story you’re telling. Be forgiving, kind and gently teasing, as you would with a close friend, when you examine different aspects of your personality (like the way you and your best friend can joke good-naturedly about her infamous lateness).
4. Stay open to growth opportunities.
As you work on expressing yourself honestly in your personal journal, you will start to notice different themes and patterns over time. Pay attention to the behaviors, thoughts and emotions that you see as negative and ask how you can make changes in the future. Encourage yourself to keep striving and growing to become the person you want to be.
Learn more about journal writing for self-improvement!
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