Have you ever read your old journal entries?
A few months ago I started asking people if they had ever read their journal. To my surprise, with the exception of the writers, very few people said they read up to a full page.
They are even less likely to read one or more of their newspapers.
I must admit that I only started reading mine very recently and I started them 40 years ago! I was surprised and, at times, delighted by what I found.
Therefore, I would like to suggest that all of you lay journal writers do the same. No matter the intention or life led, there are always good reasons for an overhaul.
After all, there are plenty of healing and uplifting benefits to journaling: from problem solving to emotional regulation and even boosting creativity.
But recently I discovered that these benefits can be amplified by re-reading some of your old journals.
Here are 7 reasons why you should read your old journal entries.
Newspapers are a wealth of information about people, places and events.
Recently I found out the date I had my appendectomy in Monrovia, Liberia. I cannot count the number of doctors who have requested this date in the last 30 years.
I no longer have to tinker. Moreover, I have many fascinating pages on this experience alone.
2. Pure curiosity
Our impressions of our past are not always entirely accurate.
Diaries give you the opportunity to peek into your past and correct the record.
3. Get information about yourself and befriend the past
Writing is a great way to explore ideas and experiences as well as calm down.
Going forward, this material illuminates the process of personal growth, sources of current behaviors and beliefs, and allows your young and current self to enter into dialogue.
4. Explore unfulfilled desires
I was surprised to read about interests and aspirations that I had forgotten about but realized.
I also noticed those that I had vaguely suspected for years, but never clarified, explored or put into practice.
5. Material to write on
Many writers use their journal entries to shape publishable stories. You can do it too.
6. Lessons to share with others
Going through my journals, I recognized many lessons that unfolded from page to page or journal to journal.
I can now share them through stories, autobiographically or with creative license.
7. Family legacy
Parents often don’t realize that their children want to know more about their parents when they are children and young adults. As they get older, they also tend to become more interested in their ancestors.
To pass on your family history, you can choose to extract stories or simply share your journals.
Your writing intentions make the content.
People keep journals for many different reasons. Therefore, these reasons or intentions will most certainly affect the content.
For example, if you wrote to comfort yourself, your journal will likely be filled with emotional content. You might also find considerable repetition during those times when your emotional resilience was low.
On the other hand, your journal content will be richer if your writing was devoted to self-discovery, personal or spiritual growth, or colorful descriptions of life events.
The thing is, what you can extract from your journals depends on why you wrote them in the first place.
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Essentially, you won’t find creative prose from which you can create short stories suitable for publication in a fancy magazine if you’ve mostly cried or ranted through the pages.
A warning for those with a difficult past
If your journals reference traumatic events or other disturbing or triggering content, you’ll want to make sure you’ve dealt with that before digging into the memories again.
Also, be aware of how the content affects your mental and emotional well-being and seek help if you need it.
I started reviewing my journals because I was curious. But, over time and over the pages, I discovered all these seven reasons. I haven’t finished yet, so maybe there will be more to come.
Whatever your reason, dig in. I think you will find many rewards.
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Patricia Bonnard, PhD, ACC leadership coach, spiritual life coach and energy healer. She blends conventional coaching, embodied practices and energy healing to best suit the needs and preferences of her clients. She offers virtual and in-person sessions and personal development workshops. See more and contact her at Starchaser Integrated Coaching and Energy Healing.
This article originally appeared on startaser-healingarts.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.