11/02/2013 09:05 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

How to Heal Through Journaling

At the age of 28, I found myself sitting in the office of a divorce attorney. Never in a million years had I thought that I would only be married for seven, be selling the home I built from the ground up and loved, and starting my life over again. I turned to my journal to help me heal and cope.

I despise the saying "time heals all wounds," because honestly, that is only true if you do something with that time. If you remain alone, in a funk, completely unable to function, and have no outlet or resources to turn to for help, then the time spent is not spent healing.

Words heal. Genuine, kind words, spoken by others, heal. Heartfelt poetry heals. And words written in your journal, whether smeared with tears or pressed deeply out of anger, heal too.

Journaling has many incredible benefits, and I think it is an overlooked self-healing strategy. It is a practical tool anyone can use at any time. It requires a minimal investment of time and money, and the only true challenge is your self-commitment to keep writing.

Journaling Slows Down Your Thoughts
When you journal, it gives your mind a chance to slow down and process the circumstances of your life. It is known that we think faster than we write, so the act of actually sitting still and writing automatically forces you to slow down and think more deeply.

Journaling Keeps You Honest
When you write for your eyes only, and know that no one else will be reading your words, you have the ability to be super honest on paper. You can be candid with yourself, writing from an open heart and mind. Over time, you will see that you learn to know your true self through the words on the paper, chiseling away false facades, revealing your deepest needs and desires.

Journaling Helps You Identify Patterns Over Time
If you take time to read over past journaling entries, you will see patterns emerge. Some of these patterns will come as a complete surprise to you.

Just last week, I was so frustrated because I lost my health insurance card. I wrote it in my journal. Then, as I looked back over the past two months of entries, I realized I had written about three other important items I had lost. (You should know that I have always been a person who NEVER loses anything.) Well, I decided that perhaps something was going on in my life causing me to become absentminded. Or my habit of putting everything back in its proper place had been disrupted. The truth was that I realized I just had too much going on at one time, and I was frustrated and flustered.

After this realization, I immediately decided to stop overcommitting myself and get my life back on track. Had I not noticed this pattern of behavior, which was recorded in my journal, who knows how long it would have taken me to realize the source of my frustration?

Journaling Keeps You Focused on Conscience Living
Do you ever feel like you are running on auto-pilot? You might notice you are overstimulated, or completely unstimulated, moving through the motions of daily life. Writing in a journal has a meditative effect, bringing your attention to the here and now.

Journaling Provides You A Judgement-Free Space
Most importantly of all, journaling allows you to express your true self, without judgement from others. No one else is reading your intimate thoughts. No one is grading your grammar. And no one is censoring your words. Writing in a journal is safe.

Harness the healing power of words. Your journal will provide the perfect outlet for emotional release. Writing through tough issues will bring you healing, personal empowerment, and peace of mind.

For more by M. Shannon Hernandez, click here.

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