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18 Jan 2022

The benefits of journalling for our mental health can be significant

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Cathal O'Reilly

Journalling is the expression of your soul, through writing in a notebook. It has probably being the most insightful experience in my self development, growth and in gaining new insights. It requires a willingness to allow oneself to be vulnerable and to accept what comes up as you write your thoughts, explore your experiences and answer some of life's biggest and unanswered questions.

When I first started journalling, I found myself simply documenting my life experiences in a biographical manner. As if someone else was actually going to read it. I found myself escaping from the journalling process by writing through a veneer that I knew I would eventually have to face.
Once I unravelled all that life had served me, I began to uncover the feelings attached to these experiences. I began to be more truthful with myself as I made a promise to myself that this writing is for me and me only. I even started to write in short hand.
I do not say that it is your soul on paper flippantly. It really is the mirror of what is going on inside. It is a gift. That much I know.
The benefits of journalling for our health are ten fold and in particular our mental health. It allows you to get to the deep roots of some of your emotional wounds as well as carve a life of great joy and fulfilment.
Journalling requires bravery and courage. It requires discipline. It forces you, if you are to continue with the daily process, to accept responsibility for your own behaviour, both past and present. This is done through reflecting on what has passed and having a deep honesty with yourself without superficiality.
I once journalled to impress myself. Wow, look at all I have written. This must be working, I told myself. However, I was simply spewing a narrative of what I once thought my life was all about. A story that sometimes blamed others for injustices I experienced where sometimes, I also had a part to play in these so called injustices. This deep honesty with oneself can indeed be hurtful but once we put ego aside and be truthful with ourselves, it can lead to exceptional human growth. This is on an emotional, spiritual and soulful level.
It has become a daily necessity in my life in order to really delve into a deeper understanding of myself. What is it they say ... Know thyself.
I share my experience of journalling with you because I believe in its transformative potential in everyone’s life. I believe the act of writing also helps to slow down the thought process which guides us into a deeper state of awareness and understanding.
On reflection of my journalling process, I value the biographical factual element of my experience as it helped me get rid of all of the narratives and stories I had been telling myself for years which had become fixed. It was only through the flow of this story onto the page, that I was able to realise new potential in myself.
So to reiterate I do value any expression of what is going on inside. It has changed my perspective on my life and has positively impacted my relationship with myself and others.
I will leave you with a fitting quote by one of the great spiritual teachers of our time, Wayne Dyer who said. “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”

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