Journaling is a fantastic tool for self-awareness. Nowadays, there are so many types of journaling, tons of online resources, and journal prompts to help you create a useful reflection practice.
But sometimes, (as with anything) journaling can become another way in which we manifest our struggles. If we struggle with perfectionism, missed days can feel like failures. If the challenge is in creating time for self-care, we often won't do it. If we have relationship challenges, the journal can turn into a big sob story. The real problem with all of these scenarios isn't the journal, it's the lack of direction.
Pitfall #1: Aimlessness.
Journaling is a great technique, but it's not magic. If the focus or intention behind journaling is unclear, the entire practice will feel useless. In addition, aimless journaling often results in complaining. Venting is absolutely necessary and helpful sometimes, but if that's the theme of your journaling, then you're just creating a physical pile of negativity.
Ask yourself: what is the real purpose, intention or goal of your journaling? How can you create a framework or structure to see your growth? Where can you seek support to remain accountable? (I have a Facebook group for stuff like that!)
Pitfall #2: Rigidity.
The evil step-sister of Aimlessness is Rigidity. Too much structure is not doing the left side of your brain any favors. As with life, health, our bodies, our yoga practice, our breath...etc, we need to allow flexibility and creativity to be part of the journey. If there's too much focus on goals and results, there's no room for experiencing anything in between.
Ask yourself: how can you create space for allowing the natural ebbs and flows of your practice? What other practices might you introduce or explore? How can you incorporate fun or creativity into your journal practice?
So as always, we seek balance between these 2 opposing energies. Our bodies and minds WANT that in-between homeostasis. If you find that support in an existing journaling practice, great! Keep doing what you're doing! But regardless of an existing or previous journaling practice, I'd love to encourage you to experiment with creating your own Journal Jar. You might find just the right amount of freedom AND structure.
There are many ways to create or use a journal jar, but the way that I enjoyed most was jotting down a daily(ish) blessing. When I began, I was going through a pretty rough time in my life, so choosing to write 1 positive thing per day was a really helpful attitude check. Some days I would write just a few words, other days were longer, I included jokes, ticket stubs, doodles...etc. Anything that made me feel grateful. I let all of those memories and words pile up for a full year before dumping it all out to enjoy on New Years Day.
If you're working toward an overall energy or attitude, it's nice to get a big jar or container and really give it time to fill up. Other times, smaller jars might fill up in a few weeks or a month if you'd like to continue to refine or start fresh.
You might try one for creating a daily affirmation, writing one thing that you love about yourself each day, or filling it up only with things that absolutely inspire you. You might even consider adding a group jar to your home or workplace for multiple people to participate!
Don't you love how simple it is? Get a jar, fill it with words, empty, reflect and repeat. There are endless ways for a journal jar to be useful and I would LOVE to hear about your experience if you try it.
Get creative, find your focus and think outside of the journal! :)