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Journaling as a coping mechanism

Old 11-24-2010, 05:59 AM
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Journaling as a coping mechanism

Journaling to me has served as a powerful life tool. Journaling is an ancient tradition, one that dates back to at least 10th century Japan. Successful people throughout history have kept journals. Our forefathers (and mothers) did know a thing or two. I have throughout my life have done my own journaling. My doctors recommended that I continue journaling after my stroke. There is increasing evidence to support the notion that journaling has a positive impact on physical well-being. The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you.

Begin journaling and begin experiencing these benefits:

How To Begin
Journaling will be most effective if you do it daily for about 20 minutes. Begin anywhere, and forget spelling and punctuation. Privacy is key if you are to write without censor. Write quickly, as this frees your brain from “shoulds” and other blocks to successful journaling. The most important rule of all is that there are no rules. Through your writing you’ll discover that your journal is an all-accepting, nonjudgmental friend. And she may provide the cheapest therapy you will ever get.

100 Benefits of Journaling

Stress reduction:
Reduces the scatter in your life
Increases focus
Brings stability
Offers a deeper level of learning, order, action and release
Holds thoughts still so they can be changed and integrated
Processes your stuff in a natural and appropriate way
Releases pent-up thoughts and emotions

Empowers:
Disentangles thoughts and ideas
Bridges inner thinking with outer events
Detaches and lets go of the past
Allows you to re-experience the past with today's adult mind

Healing:
Heals relationships
Heals the past
Dignifies all events
Is honest, trusting, non-judgmental
Strengthens your sense of yourself
Balances and harmonizes
Recalls and reconstructs past events

Acts as your own counselor:
Integrates peaks and valleys in life
Soothes troubled memories
Sees yourself as a larger, important, whole and connected being
Leverages therapy sessions for better and faster results
Reveals and tracks patterns and cycles

Know yourself and your truth better:
Builds self confidence and self knowledge
Records the past
Brings out natural beauty and wisdom
Helps you feel better about yourself
Helps you identify your values
Reads your own mind
Aids in connecting causes to effects

Reveals the depths of who you are:
Reveals outward expression of yet unformed inner impulses
Creates mystery
Clarifies thoughts, feelings and behavior
Reveals your greater potential
Shifts you to the observer, recorder, counselor level
Reveals your processes - how you think, learn, create and use intuition
Creates awareness of beliefs and options so you can change them

Self-discovery:
Reveals different aspects of self
Helps you see yourself as an individual
Connects you to the bigger picture
Is a close, intimate, accepting, trusting, caring, honest, non-judgmental, perfect friend
Accesses the unconscious, subconscious and super consciousness
Finds the missing pieces and the unsaid
Helps rid you of the masks you wear
Helps solve the mysteries of life
Finds more meaning in life

Personal growth:
Enables you to live life to the fullest
Is fun, playful and sometimes humorous
Expresses and creates
Plants seeds
Starts the sorting and grouping process
Integrates life experiences and learnings
Moves you towards wholeness and growth, to who you really are

Creates more results in life:
Explores your spirituality
Focuses and clarifies your desires and needs
Enhances self expression
Enhances career and community
Allows freedom of expression
Offers progressive inner momentum to static unrelated events

Exercises your mental muscles:
Improves congruency and integrity
Enhances breakthroughs
Unfolds the writer in you
Maximizes time and business efficiency
Explores night dreams, day dreams and fantasies
Measures and tracks what is important

Easier problem solving:
Eases decision making
Offers new perspectives
Brings things together
Shows relationships and wholeness instead of separation

It’s flexible and easy:
Can be applied to clarify any issue in your life
Takes so little time to stop, pay attention and listen to yourself
Meets your needs, style, processing methods
Caters to left and right brained people
Has no rules - messiness, typos, poor writing are all OK
Is often self-starting and motivating and supplies its own energy

Enhances intuition and creativity:
Improves self trust
Awakens the inner voice
Directs intention and discernment
Provides insights
Improves sensitivity
Interprets your symbols and dreams
Increases memory of events

Captures your life story:
Teaches you how to write stories
Soothes troubled memories
Captures family and personal story
Stimulates personal growth
Improves family unity

Best of luck on your journaling journey!

Have you tried journaling as a coping mechanism?
What other coping mechanisms would you recommend?

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Old 11-24-2010, 06:40 AM
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Brilliant post, Phoenix - well written and thought out.

I agree that journaling is an immense tool.

My own experience...

I always wrote and kept loose journals, but at sixteen a shrink told me to keep a two week journal every day and take it to her. I never went back to her. I had that one session, started writing and my journal ended up lasting five years and documenting my entire heroin addiction from the first time to the last. My journal became my only stability, my only real outlet, the only pursuit I didn't give up for gear in the end. It saved me writing it and it has saved me since re-reading it.

I often find writing it painful, difficult, confusing, tiresome etc, but having written, having got it all out, purged myself and then having it to look back on has been invaluable to me.

On top of that, though I wrote entirely for myself, I have since become involved in a charity which hosts open mic events to raise funds to helps addicts and have read entries on stage / published parts of my journals etc and the feedback and people I’ve met, heard and engaged with through and because of that has been detrimental to my own and sometimes their ‘recovery’ and wellbeing.

Poem I figure might be use to some here, on this subject, and which reflects my own feelings / thoughts and why and how writing has helped me is this one...

One Art

by Elizabeth Bishop


The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.


--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
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Old 11-24-2010, 09:29 AM
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tsukiko now it's my turn to say THANK YOU for your heartfelt and beautiful posting!

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Old 11-27-2010, 02:18 PM
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Sucha shame nobody else has posted here - Phoenixs' post is so well written and full of valuable information for anyone, addict or otherwise.

This could be a great thread. What's going on guys? :/
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Old 11-27-2010, 02:34 PM
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I was recommended to keep a journal in early recovery and initially I didn't feel like doing it. But now that I am keeping a journal I enjoy it. It's a way for me to vent my frustrations and i feel as I'm talking to God when I do it. Only God and I know what I'm writing therefore its a qay for me to talk to him.
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Old 11-27-2010, 02:46 PM
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When I was about 9 years old my mom gave me a diary.. the kind little girls use with a lock and key. I started my writing and self reflection at that age and have never stopped. I have volumes of journals and at times I re-read them to sort through feelings I have about a certain person or issue. At times they are too painful to read. But I am a firm believer in journaling so thank you for posting this!
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Old 11-27-2010, 03:30 PM
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Thank you, great post.

I do not keep a journal, I have tried over and over again, but I lose interest...no real explanation as to why, however, I do write fiction for a living, so, I think that I express myself in that venue. If I reread my work, I can see my life peeking its head out here and there weaving itself throughout the book.
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Old 11-27-2010, 04:49 PM
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Babyblue - I'm a sweepiebee (toy demonstrator) in a 'unique' shop and we sell some awesome journals. I find the right first ever journal for a kid and its awesome to think what might become of it, and of them. Childhood is one of the most fantastical, crazy, interesting times to live and write - you're documenting a period of huge transition and as well you'll never have ideas / thoughts quite how you do as a kid.


If, for you, Johndelko, journaling is a way to speak to god, journaling for me was -and is- a way of having a voice at all, without waiting and praying someone will listen just so I can speak, so I can exist, and feel as though I do.

Keep writing guys

Great to see the thread's getting some attention.

What about you though, Phoenix? What inspired you to post this thread, and why now?
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Old 11-27-2010, 05:05 PM
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I have also journaled off and on since I was a kid. There are times when it is the only outlet I have. When no one is available to talk to, or when I'm at work and have to clear my head just to make it through the day. I have also kept prayer journals and dream journals at different times in my life. Journaling was one of the key healing mechanisms for me when I was going through my breakup with XABF and through my divorce from XAH years ago.
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Old 11-27-2010, 05:12 PM
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I've had my journals read throughout my life by different snoopers. However, now that I live alone, I realize this exercise is long overdue.
Thanks for reminding me!
And it also reminded me to update my blog, something I haven't done in two years.
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Old 11-27-2010, 06:24 PM
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this is funny in a way....

I too journalled for 3 years AFTER my late husband died...gosh it helped so much....

I just burned them a few days ago....I don t want to go to that place again...now, that was healthy for me to do that...and today...do not regret it at all....
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Old 11-27-2010, 06:29 PM
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Are we supposed to re read/keep the journals? I would like to trash them after I am done!
Thanks for the inspiration!
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Old 11-27-2010, 06:33 PM
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^^ i dunno...but the pain are raw in those journals...my sponsor said "do as YOU wish" my wish is to never go to that place of hurt and pain again...so I burned them all!! I felt a relief as i was doing this...strange but true....

i guess to each person its different....
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Old 11-27-2010, 06:46 PM
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I don't know either, TC, but I have gotten rid of all of mine. Too much pain in them. It feels good to burn them...it's freeing.
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Old 11-27-2010, 08:24 PM
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“My secret is that I have found the places within me that illness cannot touch. I have learned to honor them.” Floyd Skloot

I have been journaling off and on throughout my life. However, after January and coming home from suffering my massive stroke, suffering from mobility problems, and short-term memory recall I started journaling for my physical and mental health.

Journaling opened for myself the hidden possibilities of my life. Writing was and is one way to listen to my deepest self and the patterns within me. It allows me to think more clearly, and feel more deeply. Through journaling I have learned to become my own inner friend and supporter. Journaling mobilize my inner and outer resources. It helps me get in touch with my hidden strengths and resources. Journaling helps me focus on the big issues: meaning, mission, the “now what” and “what next” instead of getting caught up in petty and mundane concerns or my past. Journaling helps me to discover my hidden patterns.

Through rereading, I discover my own previously hidden patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting. I have, also, been able to identify patterns in my outer situations and circumstances, and in others’ behavior. By establishing my writing practice, I am able to self-discipline from within instead of being imposed from the outside. Journaling has taught me to become compassionate with myself so I can experience myself as a loving friend instead of “my own worst enemy.”
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Old 11-27-2010, 08:44 PM
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Here's my two cents worth to all of you who have trashed your previous journals. At the time I finally went through my daughter's belongings I did throw out all her journals. Her journals were written only for herself, and I didn't want anyone else to read them.

I think it is probably not unusual for a person to have several journals throughout a person's lifetime, one for for each stage you find yourself in. The practice of journaling is JUST for yourself! It's just a method of coping with our codependency. I have found journaling very helpful since I have suffered short-term memory recall problems, just to remind myself of the previous day's events. It has provided me some type of grounding to compare against my dry drunk husband's lying.

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Old 11-27-2010, 11:14 PM
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I'm trying to start journaling again. I had tried before when living with and then married to STBXAH. He found it and was reading it and it became fodder for his abuse. I stopped writing in it but kept it - really, he already knew all that so why toss it. I found and re-read it a couple months ago and was absolutely floored by the red flags I read.

I've actually got a couple different journals right now, because I'm not sure which method I'll stick with. One hand-written paper journal and then I found a donation-ware journaling software that lets me password protect it. Oh! And I have a little notebook that I take everywhere with me for my gratitude list.

I really want to try my hand at drawing or painting.
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Old 11-28-2010, 03:22 AM
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I journaled from the diary my father gave me when I was 4 until... well, until about 2 months into my marriage.

Writing, journaling, had always been my way of thinking things through, my way of basically doing all the things that Phoenix outlines in the initial post. Should have been a warning sign that I all of a sudden couldn't write, didn't want to write, didn't want to do what had for 20+ years been my primary outlet.

I couldn't write during my marriage because journaling demands honesty. And I could lie to myself in every other corner of my life, but I could not write and lie at the same time. So I chose to not write.

Now I choose to not lie.

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Old 11-28-2010, 10:16 AM
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we journal for whatever reasons...mine was in grief of my husband....i choose not to go there with that pain again...its been along time for that pain, tis true, but i wrote about 3 full journals...and even some regrets in there...they hold MY PAIN, MY HOPE....all of those feelings...now its better for me to burn them, saying good bye to that past and pain...i feel good about it...now when i journal...its about me and the things around TODAY...but that is ME....

** HAPPY JOURNALING**
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Old 11-30-2010, 03:45 PM
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Great to see the topic's got rolling and hear all y'stories . Keep writing, guys!
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