The most important lesson your journal can teach you—as a writer and as a person—is to be honest with yourself about yourself.

It’s easy to confuse how you do feel with how you think you should feel. And then to feel ashamed for not feeling the “right” way. We are pressured all around by the needs and expectations of friends, family, and business. And sometimes those needs and expectations force us into a mold we don’t actually fit. We lose sight of ourselves, our own needs, and our dreams. We can so completely lose sight of ourselves, we don’t even know who we are anymore.

Here’s an exercise to help you go deeper with your journal. Take an event from your life, big or small, and ask these three questions. Take as long as you need to answer each one.

  • What happened?
  • How do I feel about it?
  • Why do I feel that way?

How did you feel about what happened? Feel it over again. Put a name to it. Maybe you felt lots of things. Acknowledge them all. They’re all valid. Even the ugly ones. Remember, there’s no shame in being honest with your journal. Rather, an emotion repressed will find nasty ways to express itself that could turn out harmful to yourself and those around you.

Why did you feel that way? This is where you truly get to know yourself. But beware! This question can become a branching tree, leading you deeper and deeper inside yourself to realms you little knew existed. But don’t be afraid to explore. This is where true discovery begins—and true healing, where needed.

The most important lesson your journal can teach you is honesty. Honesty about what’s important to you. Honesty about things which may have hurt you. Honesty about how you really felt. Your journal is a safe environment where no one is ever going to judge you or contradict you. Your journal exists to teach you about you.

About the Author

DSC01646 (3) (481x640)Danielle Hanna, author of Journaling to Become a Better Writer, learned how to read and write at age four, began keeping a journal at age five, and knew she wanted to be an author by the time she was seven. She writes crime fiction, not specifically for the excitement of guts and guns, but as a means to explore the true experiences of real people who have survived traumatic events and are looking for answers.

When she’s not riveted to her computer, you can find her camping, hiking, and biking with her dog Molly.

Visit Danielle’s website for more information and resources.