Journaling: The Gift of Self-Discovery

Billie Wade

Journaling has been a transformative vehicle in my life since age twelve when I penned my first words of adolescent angst in my little white leatherette diary with a key. I write because I cannot not write. My DNA demands it. I believe in the power of words and the power of self-healing through reflection and introspection.

Journaling helps me through episodes of persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and PTSD. My journaling ebbed and flowed throughout the years as I got busy with Life or journaling was unsafe. For over a decade, I have maintained a daily journaling practice.

When I sit down to journal, I enter my Innerverse, the one place where my Truth and Authenticity await my acknowledgement and no outside forces can intrude. I am aware of the vast storehouse within me that offers me insight, clarity, respite, and validation. Here, my rawest wounds and my most intuitive emotional healing coexist. Pen to paper coaxes them into my awareness where I engage with them and learn from them. They are me. I am they.

Journaling evokes an honesty I do not always acknowledge when thoughts and opinions and beliefs rattle around in my head where I ruminate on raw, unprocessed feelings. In September 2019, with the support of my therapist, I began the work of rewriting my personal narrative to make peace with the traumatic experiences that defined my life, many stemming from childhood. These experiences engulfed me in darkness. I expected to explore and write honestly about the experiences and rewrite the self-talk to turn words of emotional pain into language of self-compassion and self-acceptance. The exercise turned out to be much more than that. I uncovered myriad ungrieved losses. I learned I am nowhere near rewriting my narrative as I have not worked through the grief and all it entails. Journaling revealed much more than I imagined, a frequent experience. I never know what my journaling will unleash or how it will affect me.

Progress takes practice, mindfulness, reflection, introspection, and contemplation. I couple journaling with counseling which creates a synergy of growth and development that surpasses each approach alone. When I discuss an insight from journaling with my counselor, I receive support, further clarity, and validation for my feelings. When I journal after a counseling session, I gain a deeper insight into the discussion in the office.

Journaling encourages the emergence of a lifetime of lessons learned. Insights, epiphanies, solutions, and possibilities grace the pages of my journals. My earlier writing reminds me of my strength, tenacity, inventiveness, and resilience. It reminds me, whatever happens in my life, I will be okay. The wisdom in my journal astounds me. The spiritual part of me activates, opening my heart to gratitude for the Good which surfaced. I express gratitude for what could have gone wrong but did not. Gratitude is an essential everyday practice for me.

Like Journaling Journeyer, Cheryl Hearts, How Journaling Helped Me Discover My Passion, journaling led me to my calling. My personal mission statement is “To help others live their lives at optimal levels while tending my own needs.” As I looked for ways to support my community and increase my income, I eventually had an “aha/duh” moment: a journaling workshop. So, in the Fall of 2018, I did just that. I am rewarded with active, engaged participants who learn to apply journaling to their emotional healing repertoire.

Even with my vast experience, journaling continues to challenge and reward me. Every entry is a fresh adventure of self-discovery. I am in awe of the power of reflective, introspective words. Journaling is a self-care gift I give myself every day. May your journaling journey bring you discovery, joy, and peace.


Billie Wade

Author bio: Billie Wade is a writer living in central Iowa. She is the creator and founder of Journaling to Heal, a program she designed to help people as they travel their journey of healing from emotional stress and trauma. A bachelor’s degree in psychology and human services and a master’s degree in rehabilitation administration plus seven years as an Advanced Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ACADC) enhance her innate compassion and reverence for other human beings. She shares her strength and hope on and on where she writes a monthly newsletter column for Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center.