I have stopped journaling. Well, that is not entirely true, I have restricted my journalling habits. I also have a journal section on this very blog.

The way I use it has changed. I use it more or less share my internal world to others, it is no more a private affair that way.

Though, I have a personal journal too, that I don’t share here, simply because some are too dark to share here – or too embarrassing.

Journaling is more or less regular for me for the last 6 years or so – in different forms.

The way I had been journaling

Whenever I feel like. More accurately whenever I have to get something out of my chest. Whether I am going through sadness, fear, anger or even when I am happy. To be honest, I only turn to journaling whenever I see there is some problem with my mind, not when I am happy. Maybe I should, because that will mean that I am not using journaling as a means to avoid stuff.

I started journaling in order to organise my thoughts on paper. Someone told me once, I think it was in a seminar, that once you get your thoughts on paper, they lose its usual power, and the repetition seems to stop in your head. I don’t necessarily think that had happened to me. These thoughts still repeat in my head, despite journaling.

It is true that journaling gives you an instant soothing, it is like reaching out for chocolate when you are sad. You can write in your journal and cry and be mad when you do that. Journaling can also be helpful when you want to clear your head, want to make a decision, write pros and cons etc.

Or when I am in my self-loathing patterns, any reactive patterns, once I bring it to paper, it is like I am aware of it on the surface, it is not anymore subconsciously motivating me to do anything. Now I know that I am in my pattern.

Will that necessarily change that behaviour? I don’t think so.

In the psychological realm, I think, you are probably better off with no journaling. Because any time that you are not spending journaling, you are spending time with your experience and not running away from it.

Writing down you are angry is not the same as watching and being with the sensations, feelings, thoughts of anger. Nor will it free from anger. In fact, feeling it may potentially equip you to deal with it, without escaping.

Writing them down will be an escape. Engaging with the world at the same time with all those sensations in your body, with the full contact with it will be a better more effective alternative. When you are angry, sad, afraid, that is the best time to interact with the world. You can see how these emotions move inside you.

That will make us able adults. We don’t have to retreat back to the perceived safety of isolation anymore. And that is real meditation.

Where journalling is useful

Journaling has benefits in the field of knowledge and skills, at your workplace and in the field of knowledge.

You can track the progress of your work, to keep track of how you are growing in terms of your skill. For example, how many deliveries did I make when I am coding a piece of software, how long did it take.

How much money I am spending a month?

Keeping track of the practicalities, keeping track of important dates, keeping the taxman happy, your financial affairs, all fall in this realm.

Anything that does not have anything to with relationships and reflects a psychological time.

Because tracking psychological time would be foolish, there is only the now. Where you can be a certain way, if you are not doing it now, the promise of doing it in the future and measuring it, that is only an excuse of procrastination.

And so, journalling can get in your way of actual field testing whatever you want to do – go and act, taking action.

I think the important thing is to know about your soothing behaviours, not only with journaling but with anything, like meditation, if you are trying to escape from your feelings, is an avoidance behaviour, how much ever you sugar-coat it. It is the same misery in a different form.

And there are other tools, used by coaches and psychologists to write things down, in my opinion, I don’t think they are effective. The spiritual kinds are the worst, writing a letter to your lost father, your past self, your future self, the one who experienced trauma all that.

Your future self you’re writing now is your past self because you are writing about it now, with the knowledge of the past. Do you see the absurdity of it?

I have done all that. They are just gimmicks and don’t do a damn thing. Well, they soothe you momentarily and give you a false sense of progress.

As I said, anytime you use to journal instead of feel, you are escaping from what is, and it is simply a replacement to coffee, or a drug, sex that will give you momentary pleasure.

But journal away to keep track of your progress your work and other practicalities.