The Art of Journaling for Clarity, Self-Compassion, and Confidence

I think it’s about time I write an ENTIRE post about journaling. Because it deserves an entire, full-on, in-depth dose of attention. It’s been THAT important in my journey toward learning what loving myself actually meant, healing my low self-esteem, and finding my intuition and learning to follow it.

You guys have heard me talk about journaling for years, or you’ve seen me journaling on Instagram, and I always get questions about it. So, this post is meant to answer all of your Q’s and give you a profound tool for accessing your highest self and using that connection to guide you in all areas of your life.

You see, we are constantly living in our ego mind- our ego mind is synonymous with our inner critic, or the part of our brain that is rooted in fear, self-doubt, and worry. Am I right?

If you spend 20 minutes just listening to the thoughts going through your brain, chances are you experience:

  • Thoughts about not being good enough in some way: your appearance, your personality, how you are not X quality enough (cool, chill, fun, pretty, smart, etc.).
  • Beating yourself up for SO MANY THINGS. For not saying the right thing, for not being a good enough Mom or girlfriend or employee, for not being more productive, for not having it “together” enough, for making a mistake.
  • Comparison toward other people.
  • Worry about what may happen or not happen for you. Will I ever find “the one”? Will I ever reach my potential? Will I make enough money?
  • Fear of what other people think of you…constantly.

I mean, the list goes on, right?

This is the world we live in, daily. It is part of the human experience.

We all have an inner critic and plenty of these fear-based thoughts, and while we can never make our inner critic disappear, we CAN and we MUST learn how to manage it. 

If we don’t find some way to manage the thoughts in our head, they literally create our lives…

  • We hold ourselves back because we are so scared all the time
  • We don’t believe in ourselves, so we settle – in relationships, in our careers, in how we design our daily lives
  • We lose ourselves in our relationships and can damage those relationships – rather than sorting through our own fears and insecurities, we project these onto the people around us. We create drama, we place our self-worth and validation into the hands of others, and we walk around feel completely uncentered with a low sense of self.
  • We feel moody and on-edge, and sometimes we don’t even know why we feel this way
  • Our anxieties feel overwhelming as our worries continue to swirl around in our brain all day with nowhere to go

These are just a few of the wonderful things that happen when we let our inner critic run wild 🙂 It isn’t so pretty!

I know this because I was completely taken down by my inner critic for most of my life. In fact, I had no idea that my inner critic was even a “thing”, so I just assumed all of those thoughts were REAL. I assumed that it was true that nobody would love me if I wasn’t skinnier. I assumed it was true that I wasn’t as cool or as lovable as other girls. I assumed it was true that my parents were ashamed of me anytime I gained weight.

I used to think journaling was not for me. I was one of those kids who “tried” having a journal 1,000 times and never made it past Day Two. So, I figured it just wasn’t going to ever be something that worked for me.

But then I went through a horrible, horrible, bring-you-to-your-knees kinda breakup and I needed serious help. I was living in a nightmare of fears and I was desperate for any kind of help.

One of my coaches who had been suggesting journaling to me for a while said, Jamie you NEED to do this now. 

So I started journaling – pages and pages and pages and pages and pages – filled with my emotions. I would write down every single terrifying fear. Every ounce of anger at myself. Every ounce of anger toward him. Swear words. Tears. Prayers. Questions. I would beg for relief. I would ask the questions I really wanted to know.

Journaling became my safe space to understand myself and everything going on within me.

And after all of the hard emotions came out, a more soothing voice would inevitably come out. It was a voice that I needed to hear. It was my highest self, my intuition, God, whatever you want to call it.

Once I cleared out all the fear based thoughts, I created space for a calm, wise voice to emerge. And I needed that voice to get through the days back then. I needed her.

One day I was listening to a podcast and I heard this journaling exercise that I became obsessed with. For the past 3 years, I have done this EXACT exercise almost every day, sometimes multiple times per day, and it has helped me tremendously in my life.

I want to share my absolute favorite, daily journaling exercise with you:

Step 1: Go to a fresh page! You can do this in the AM or PM, or anytime of day.

Step 2: At the top of the page, write “Dear God / Universe / My Intuition / My Higher Self (choose one that speaks to you),”. For ease of explaining this, I am going to pretend like you choose My Intuition. Then, start writing ALL of your thoughts down without censoring. All of your fears, worries, what you are concerned about, what you are upset about, how you are feeling, etc. You know you’re done when you feel like you have “emptied” everything out. This may take 1 minute or 20 minutes, depending on how much is swirling inside of you! Then, ask questions that you want to know. For instance, “What should I do about X situation?” or “How can I navigate this situation as my highest self?” or “What do I need to know today?”. Then, sign your name.

Step 3: Right underneath your first letter, write back to yourself from Your Intuition. So you would write “Dear ____ (insert your name)”, and then just let your pen write, as if you are channeling your Intuition. Yes, I know this sounds crazy, but just trust me. I have had SO many skeptical clients do this and every single one has been surprised that yes, a message did flow back to them. Keep writing back to yourself. Answer the questions you asked in the first part. Tell yourself whatever you need to know. When you’re done, sign the letter, “Love, Your Intuition”.

So here is what’s happening here:

  • You are letting yourself get out ALL of your inner critic thoughts. This helps you actually process and empty your brain of all the crap. It lets you physically see it all on paper, and it simply gets it OUT so it is no longer clogging your brain space.
  • Once your ego has had a chance to speak, your inner wisdom and intuition has the space to emerge.
  • You then get access to your wisest, calmest, most compassionate and grounded self: your intuition (which I believe is connected to God, The Universe). And you get answers! And practical guidance!

Here is why I love this method:

I LOVE answers. I love practical action steps. Sometimes for me, other methods of journaling have felt less productive, as if I just write my thoughts, but don’t really know how to move forward. This method allows me to ask specific questions and receive specific guidance. For someone who loves answers, this is so ideal.

I also want to tell you that I have done this exercise thousands of times, and the answers and guidance I receive back from God / My Intuition have never been wrong. Isn’t that incredible?  

I have used this method to journal about dating situations (things even as tiny as, do I text him right now?) to career moves, to family situations, friend dynamics… literally everything.

Journaling has helped me:

  • regain my confidence and sense of self when I’ve felt so low
  • navigate 1,000 career decisions by connecting to what is right for ME vs. what I think I “should” do
  • sort through my own feelings and stress before projecting anything onto my partner (honestly, my journal is the best thing ever for my relationship with Ryan)
  • find clarity when my brain has felt like a confused pile of mush
  • access the truth of a situation, time and time again, which lies underneath all my worries and concerns
  • navigate tricky situations with family and friends
  • remind myself that I am okay
  • feel SO much more gratitude – I can only access gratitude once the “everything is wrong” thoughts have been cleared out of my head
  • get answers about what to do next

I hope that you give it a shot and let me know how it works out for you.

But that’s not all… because I care so much about journaling and YOU, I wanted to take this post one step further and interview a journaling expert, Katie Dalebout.

Katie literally wrote an entire book about journaling, called Let It Out: A Journey through Journaling, and her book has over 50 ways to journal in there. It’s incredible. I wanted to offer this to you because I know that different methods work for different people, so I wanted to offer you multiple ways to use journaling as a tool for you.

One of my favorite quotes in this interview with Katie is when she says, “if you ask yourself a good question, you’ll get a good answer”. YES.

Here is my interview with her, and below it is a breakdown of key moments in case you want to watch specific parts.

Key Moments from the Video Interview:

1:50 What was going on in Katie’s headspace around body image, her struggle with food and her eating disorder, and her self-esteem before she found journaling.

5:00 What journaling started to do for her : why it was different than therapy, or talking to friends, and exactly what it helped her with

7:00 We talk about RESISTANCE! Why so many people are resistant to journaling.

7:35 How Katie started journaling: the question she would ask herself in her journal every day

8:30 How journaling began helping her with her relationship with food by helping her become aware of her actual feelings

11:10 We discuss meditation vs. journaling

14:30 Katie’s favorite ways to journal today – the way she accesses her self-soother and takes forward action after getting her thoughts down. Her favorite questions she asks herself in her journal.

16:15 I share my favorite way of journaling (that I outlined above)

19:55 We talk about journaling on the go – doing it on your phone, on the subway, in meetings at work, anywhere / anytime, and why this is so beneficial

22:00 The biggest areas of Katie’s life that she journals about and what it has helped her with

23:06 How journaling specifically helped her with her body image

25:30 This is for all of you beginners! How to START journaling as a beginner…

30:15 How to get over your own personal resistance to journaling

Here’s more of Katie!:

Katie’s Instagram

Katie’s Podcast, Let It Out

Katie’s Website

Katie also has a free 2018 Gift Guide that has some great journaling resources in it. Grab it here!

I hope that this serves as a resource for you to help you start journaling if it’s something you’ve been curious about. It can be SO helpful for any woman who wants to feel more grounded and confident, and who wants to have space to be kinder and more compassionate toward herself.

In the comments, I would LOVE to hear any questions you have. Do YOU already have a favorite way of journaling? And if you give any of my or Katie’s suggestions a shot, let us know how it goes for you!

Lots of love,
Jamie

 

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  1. Every night I take time to journal. First I do some gratitude work and then I sort of brain dump. Interestingly my practice got a lot more consistent when I was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome. The PCS means that it is incredibly difficult to write more than a paragraph but I always write that paragraph now. I think it became more consistent because I have SO many feelings about my concussion/PCS and its impact on my life. And if a paragraph is all I can do, that is what I do because it’s important to me to allow myself some space to process and feel.

    tl;dr journaling is super important to me even though I can’t produce much content at this moment in my life.

    • I love this approach and the idea of doing something is better than nothing in this case. Thank you for sharing, Meg! xx.

  2. I’ve always liked the idea of journaling and I really try to get into the habit, but can never stick to it. I think it might have to do with the fact that I usually write as if I’m writing a story, and instead I should just write my thoughts and don’t worry about it being pretty or if I’ll ever read it again. I’ll try to follow your technique and see how it goes. Thanks a lot, I’ve been looking forward to this post for a long time!

    • You are so welcome! YES, write totally uncensored. Let it be messy. You can even write “I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to say, This is weird, I am doing this because Jamie said to but I don’t know what to say”… haha! Until you have something to say, and then it’ll come out… let it be totally messy (our brains ARE messy!) 🙂

  3. Hey Jamie! I love this. The concept of journaling as been coming into my life and with my clients lately and after reading this I’ve realized I need to listen to the universe and dig in! What are your thoughts on physically writing in a journal vs typing? I realized a big part of why I don’t journal is because I really don’t like writing physically. I’m not against it by any means but would love to know your thoughts. Thanks!

    • Hey!! Katie and I actually talk about this a bit in the video interview toward the end (when we talk about journaling on the go… with voice memos and typing on our phones). You can totally type it if that feels better. I personally love pen and paper, but typing is awesome! I have done a ton of journaling on my phone over the years when it was the only thing I had access to immediately, and it serves the same purpose. Enjoy Grace! 🙂

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