Unlocking The Secrets Of The Soul – Finding your Self through Journaling
Imagine a gift with your name on it; when unwrapped it has the power to expose your deepest feelings and thoughts, something like a mirror into the depths of your soul. Of what value would such a gift be as you journey in life, striving toward honesty and truth? Such is the power of journaling. And it is often considered a gift by those who have learnt to reap its rewards.
Journaling is often described as a psychological tool which can assist you in discovering hidden sides to your self. Sadly, the side that most frequently becomes hidden (and sometimes nearly lost), is our feeling, creative side.
Does the phrase “children should be seen and not heard” sound familiar to you? Many of us had our boisterous, expressive childishness suppressed under the weight of parental disapproval. Maybe you recall “boys don’t cry” or “she is such a cry-baby”. There is a powerful drive in us during our early childhood, to gain recognition and praise from the significant adults in our life. We learn not to cry; to swallow our anger; not to sing at the top of our voice because we feel like it; to stifle our laughter when something is funny; not to give a hug in case we get told to go away; and generally we shut down on the expression of our feelings, so we do not earn disapproval.
Learning some restraint over our feelings is entirely appropriate. Socially we would be quite unacceptable if we did not control our expression of anger, or if we wanted hugs from everyone we met. However, it becomes a concern when we have no appropriate outlet for our anger (which usually is expressing our fears and frustrations). We turn the anger inward and do self-destructive things like over-eat, drown our feelings in alcohol/drugs, or get depressed.
Alternatively, we could keep all our anger suppressed (or maybe repressed where it is beyond our awareness) until an incident occurs and we shock ourselves and those around us by being totally over-the-top with our anger. It is though a small subterranean (or subconscious) volcano has been released. Psychological, spiritual and physical health can be improved by recognition of these feelings as they occur in our daily lives, and find appropriate ways to express them.
Journaling of our daily feelings is a way of safely recognising and expressing our innermost self. For some people, the feelings are so deeply buried that the first challenge is to be alert to the little glimpses of inner feeling reactions. The first step is to learn to capture the feelings that flitter through our consciousness, by naming them and writing them down.
David, when he wrote his psalms, seemed to often use this creative outlet as a form of journaling his feelings. In our reading of the psalms we love to hear the positive expressions, but we pretend that the explosions of anger, and the depths of depression do not exist. Have a look at David’s expression of anger and frustration at his enemy:
Make orphans of his children; and a widow of his wife; make his children beg for food and live in the slums. Psalm 109 v.9-10
I am poor and helpless and have lost all hope. I am fading away like an evening shadow; I am tossed like a crawling insect. I have gone without eating until my knees are weak, and my body is bony. Ps 109 v.22-24
There is a valid place for the safe expression of our deeper feeling – both negative and positive. It is part of our journey to psychological and spiritual health.
– Lynette French