Men: The Secrets to Finding Your Internal Compass Though Journaling



I’m going to let you in on a little-known fact: more men keep a journal than you think. And even more men should.

Journaling is not just for women looking for a place to pour their hearts out. A significant number of men use journaling to help them find their internal compass and chart a path through life.

Let’s face it – life is hard. And while there’s no question that women have historically been dealt a lousy hand in life – lower pay, fewer rights, more responsibilities – men haven’t always had it so easy either. Today, it’s easy for a man to feel under assault as the ancient, male-dominated social, cultural, and economic hierarchy is being actively challenged on every front. Many men are now unsure of what it means to be a man. What constitutes “weakness”? What does it mean to be “powerful”? How has the man’s role changed in marital relationships? In dating? In work relationships?

All of these questions are giving men everywhere a headache. As they wrestle with their responsibilities, decisions, and actions, it’s easy for them to lose their way. To question everything they think, do, and say. So what’s a guy to do? Start journaling.

In this eBook, we’re going to explore the benefits of journaling for today’s man. We’re going to look at ways it can help men in all walks of life gain a better understanding of where they’ve been, where they might be going, and where they can go, with a little insight and effort.

man journaling

Download this eBook Today

Secrets-to-finding-internal-compass-coverExplore the benefits of journaling for today’s man on your own schedule by downloading this eBook.

This eBook looks at ways journaling can help men in all walks of life gain a better understanding of where they’ve been, where they might be going, and where they can go, with a little insight and effort.



Contrary to conventional wisdom, it really can be tough to be a man these days. Rapidly evolving social mores, changing dynamics in relationships with the opposite sex, political chaos, and economic uncertainty all contribute to a general male unease, increased stress, and a sense of being untethered from anything recognizable and familiar. “What am I doing?” and “where am I going?” are unsettling thoughts that are clouding the minds of men everywhere with increasing frequency. More and more are simply losing their way. They no longer see a clear path to the future – a happy, settled life, more money, and a peaceful, fulfilling retirement.

Instead, some men see a dark road ahead of them, what delta bluesman Robert Johnson called “stones in my passway.” Unable to see a promising way forward, some men choose another path – perhaps falling victim to addiction, infidelity, bad habits, and general amoral behavior because they’ve given up hope. They see no reason for caring.

man journaling to manage life eventsOf course, for many men, the steady increase of age and responsibility that comes with life acts as a slow drain upon them, sapping their energy, interest, and will as they settle into a dull cycle of work and family life. Often they drift away from friends, hobbies, and other personal interests as they substitute their children’s lives for theirs. Kids’ activities, school and sporting events, and the myriad responsibilities and distractions that come with parenting and long-term relationships can all create a steady drip of “self” draining out of men as they enter and pass through middle age. Eventually, many lose a vital sense-of-self and they become adrift in life with no moral or personal compass to guide them. They slog forward, tired, uninterested and uninteresting as their own personality and interests take a backseat to family, work, and other responsibilities.


 Left unchecked, this kind of steady erosion of self can result in problems that can be hard to fix – if they can be fixed at all. Dissatisfaction with their daily lives and what the future seems to hold for them can cause a downward spiral into depression and even despair. Stress increases, often leading to a decrease in physiological resistance to illness and disease. According to studies done by the Stress Management Program for the Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara, stress can exacerbate just about any health condition you can think of, including obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, even cancer.

older-man-journaling-in-a-large-journalThe stress and depression that can result from losing a sense of direction and purpose can lead to all kinds of behavioral problems as well, including entering into toxic or illicit relationships as men attempt to cope with what they perceive their situation to be – as real or imagined as it might be. As key relationships begin to fall apart, men can find that, in turn, affecting other elements of their lives, such as their children, friendships, and careers.

Lack of purpose and depression can trigger poor or worsening eating habits that can also affect health, weight, and overall physical condition. A spiral of negativity can pick up speed and intensity that, unaddressed, can spin out of control, ending eventually in death, by natural causes or even suicide.

Despite all this doom and gloom, though, there is always a glimmer of hope. Fortunately, many men recognize the funk they’re in and make attempts to tackle their issues, often with a little help from their friends and other outside resources.


For some men, a positive response to their negative situation begins with a triggering event that serves as a wake-up call: a divorce, a heart attack, job loss, or an accident. If this sounds like you and the situation you find yourself in, take heart – there is always help available in a wide variety of forms. Regardless of the trigger, how you respond is the real concern – what will you do now? Depending on what causes their conversion, men will seek the resources they believe can help them get on the right road.

Sometimes simply a willingness to make lifestyle changes is all it takes. For example, if you’ve been engaging in poor eating habits, making better dietary decisions can pay off in terms of weight loss and improved health. If your level of physical activity has dropped off, beginning a modest program of exercise that you can stick with can yield real results, such as the loss of those extra pounds you picked up and an improved appearance and attitude that can yield other benefits as well, such as a new or improved love interest and an expanded circle of friends.

If increased stress has been causing you problems, there are self-help strategies available to help you address that, such as stress management. Still, many of us remain skeptical about the ability of stress management to be truly successful. After all, our lives are just plain stressful to some degree. We have busy jobs, families to raise, tight finances, and no time to spare. Stress management might seem like a nice idea, but difficult to achieve. And, yes, while it’s true that you might not be able to remove all the stressful things from your life, you can change how you respond to them.


If relationship issues and family problems are the result of your negative spiral, you can seek professional counseling for yourself and perhaps your partner or family members, as needed. Counseling can help you better understand yourself and your relationships, but using it to make significant changes in your life takes effort and discipline.

When a general male funk results in physical manifestations, such as health issues and physical limitations, there are always medical professionals, trainers, and other professional services that can help you recalibrate your physical self and produce mental and emotional improvements.

man-journaling-about-life-eventsEven seemingly passive practices such as meditation can have big payoffs. Meditation has been proven to reduce stress, control anxiety, promote emotional wellbeing, and enhance self-awareness. Talking about meditation, though, is easy-- actually creating the space in your day and doing it on a regular basis requires a bit of planning.

The challenge with all of these self-help strategies is that they all take a lot of work, inner strength and motivation because we are so ingrained in the way we live our lives. Inertia is a powerful force, making change hard. Starting something new – especially a fundamental change in lifestyle -- requires substantial motivation and effort. There needs to be a lot of soul searching, which can be scary. The biggest obstacles are past habits and practices. Our habits control us.



One surprisingly simple, easy-to-do, yet powerful solution to breaking the cycle of despair and depression and rediscovering your internal compass to show you the way forward is journaling. Writing down how you are feeling has immense mental and physical health benefits – and, believe it or not, men need that the most.

According to University of Texas social psychologist Dr. James Pennebaker, expressive writing improves health and eases emotional pain. By writing, you put some structure and organization to those anxious feelings. It helps you to get past them. Pennebaker has also found that suppressing negative thoughts, rather than talking about them, can compromise immune functioning.

This is why the effect of journaling can be so powerful for men. The single biggest killer of men between 20 and 49 is suicide. Part of the problem is that when men become depressed, they conceal their feelings and prefer not to seek help. While 67 percent of women will tell someone if they feel depressed, only 55 percent of men will confide in someone.


Not quite convinced that journaling is a great self-improvement tool for men? Here are just some of the benefits that journal writing provide:

  • Journal writing helps you connect better with your values, emotions, morality, and goals.

Writing about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, helps you better understand your relationships to those things. This is because you must sort through mental debris and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

  • Journaling can help you focus your thinking and improve your mental clarity.

Journal writing is ideal for clearing the mental clutter. How does it work? It’s simple: whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

  • Journaling improves personal insight and understanding

There is perhaps no better way to achieve a greater understanding of yourself than to write about what you are feeling and thinking. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would’ve missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves through writing. Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them.

  • Keeping a journal enables you to track your progress and development

Journal writing enables us to see how we’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and stumbled. The great thing about journals is that you’ll have a record of where you stumbled, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, enabling you to learn from your mistakes.

  • Journaling encourages personal growth

It’s impossible not to grow once you start keeping a journal. No matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. That’s what makes a journal such a powerful tool -- whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal development, and charting a new path through life. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person and finding ways to move forward in a positive way.

Even just the simple, physical act of writing by hand has benefits. Neuroscientists have discovered that when we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated. There is a core recognition of the gesture in writing words, a sort of recognition by mental stimulation in your brain. It appears that this neural circuit is contributing in ways previously unknown. Learning is actually made easier through the act of writing.


The process of holding pen or pencil in hand is a meditative action – a pause as we focus on our thoughts and wait for inspiration to take hold. It is a self-conscious action that focuses you in the present and forces you to consider things.

For some individuals, though – especially men – the whole writing thing can have a bad childhood association. Memories of being forced to write about your summer vacation, perhaps. Mental gymnastics that were more torture than learning. As a result, the idea of keeping a journal – of voluntarily writing things down about yourself – is perceived by some as not only unnecessary, but something to be avoided at all cost.

And that’s where getting some advice and even regular assistance from a professional journaling and life skills coach can make all the difference in the world. Someone with experience coaching both women and men, who can provide the right encouragement and direction to help ensure that your journaling is productive and even, yes, enjoyable.

Journaling assistance from a professional provides you with both a skills partner and someone who can help you and hold you accountable if you begin to falter and lose your way – a risk that increases when you’re left on your own and can be more easily tempted by past behavior and familiar old ways.

Soon, your journal itself becomes your friend and a trusted source of inspiration and comfort to guide you through life’s rough patches. Best of all, your journal becomes your coach and a valuable resource, free of charge.


Journaling is valuable for analyzing the relationships in your life and evaluating how they have helped or hindered you. Analyzing the healthy relationships in your life, their characteristics, and what you do to make that relationship healthy is valuable for reshaping your life. Once you know the hows and whys of healthy relationships, you can apply the same characteristics to other relationships to expand your sphere of healthy connections.

Journaling enables you to focus on the positive and discover what works for you. By exploring your thoughts and feelings you can gain greater insight into who you are and rediscover ways to truly enjoy your life. You can develop a connection to the inner you and regain your sense of self. You can once again become who you were before life’s issues got in the way and reestablish the inner compass to help navigate your way to an ever better, more fulfilled you.



CreateWriteNow is a Therapeutic Journaling practice based on more than two decades of management consulting regarding human resources and human-related business problems.

Mari L. McCarthyFounder and Chief Inspiration Officer Mari L. McCarthy is an award-winning, international best-selling self-help author and therapeutic journaling mentor. In fact, Mari’s first-hand experience with therapeutic journaling has helped her recover from multiple sclerosis and led her to establish her journal therapy mentoring practice.

What sets CreateWriteNow apart from other therapeutic journaling practices is its focus on the individual, not the mechanics of writing. Gaining a deeper understanding of clients, who they are, the challenges they’re facing, and where they’d like to be with their lives enables Mari to be highly effective in helping them reach their goals.

CreateWriteNow offers personal, one-on-one therapeutic journal mentoring and over 20 self-paced journaling courses to help clients address specific issues and challenges.

expert guide journaling guide

Download this eBook Today

Secrets-to-finding-internal-compass-coverExplore the benefits of journaling for today’s man on your own schedule by downloading this eBook.

This eBook looks at ways journaling can help men in all walks of life gain a better understanding of where they’ve been, where they might be going, and where they can go, with a little insight and effort.