By Ron Huxley, LMFT
Journaling has long been a tool to achieving better emotional and
mental health. The need to express oneself in a safe and controlled
manner is a powerful means to improving self-esteem and personal
relationships. Parents can use this tool to increase their
effectiveness and satisfaction with family members. Here are ten ways
that a journal will help parents:
1. Tell your family story. What better way to immortalize your life
than to write about it in a journal? You can create a memoir of your
life growing up, describe the many branches on your family tree, or
just make a scrapbook of your life. Children can benefit by learning
their family history and discover whom they are in relation to past
generations. Parents will find clues to family dysfunction and
strengths by exploring their familial history.
2. Share yourself with family members. Most people keep their
journals private but choosing a sister or child to share a journal
with can close the gap on distant relationships or bring close one’s
even closer. Swap separate journals for family members to read, keep
a family journal that is free for all to read and write, or create a
journal to express thoughts, feelings, and dreams with a particular
3. Organize yourself…emotionally and spiritually. Whenever I go to
the store, I make a list. If I don’t I am sure to forget something.
Probably a few “something’s”. Writing things down helps me recall
what I need to buy. Journaling will help you remember the emotional
and spiritual items you need in your life. Some of this items you may
not have known you needed and others will be one’s that you know you
need but haven’t had the courage to go out there and get it.
Journaling is the first step in that spiritual grocery store
4. Track your emotions, moods, and experiences over time. Monday was
a high-energy day. Tuesday, I felt depressed and lethargic.
Wednesday, I started to climb out of it. Thursday, I felt better but
had difficulty focusing. You get the picture, right? Journals will
help you map the highs and lows of your week, month, or year so that
you can plan your life accordingly. What mood ring can do that for
5. Unburden yourself and let go of old hurts. You’ve carried that old
emotional baggage for how many years now? Isn’t it time to let it go
and move forward feeling a little lighter on the emotional load. You
can let go of the hurts and fears you inherited from childhood that
have clung to you through adulthood and affected all of your
important relationships. Release them into a journal and really live
life to the fullest. Because you are anonymous, this is your
opportunity to say it all and unburden yourself so that you can have
freer, more productive relationships with your family instead of
venting it all at them.
6. Clarify and achieve your dreams, goals, and aspirations. Any
successful life planner, motivational speaker, or therapist will tell
you that in order to achieve a goal or dream you must write it down.
Journals are a great way to realizing that goal or dream. While the
path of life and relationships seems confusing and chaotic, a look
back, into your journal, will reveal some very clear patterns that
will help you in your future journeying.
7. Share your wisdom (life experiences) with others. I may not be an
expert on life but I have had my share of successes and failures. So
have you. Together we can learn and grow more than either of us could
have done alone. Use journals to write down your mistakes so your
children do not make the same one’s or share a few tips about life
that you wish your parents had shared with you. It’s not too late.
8. Glimpse the world through the eyes of another person. Journals
allow you to see life from the perspective of another’s culture,
geography, beliefs, age, and gender. Take a trip around the world or
through time simply by reading a family journal. Ask family members
to describe you or your childhood. You may be surprise by what you
learn when others look at you and your life.
9. Challenge your beliefs and enrich your life. Master therapists
tell us that in order to change your life you must change your
thoughts or beliefs. Doing this on your own is difficult if not
impossible. Journals are a great way to analyze those thoughts that
get in the way of good mental health and better family relationships.
10. Realize you are not alone! Have you had a loved one pass away?
Suffered a divorce or financial loss? Had a prodigal child leave
home? Anyone who has suffered a loss or felt the weight of depression
knows how lonely that can be. It feels like no one could possibly
understand the pain you feel. Family Journals remind you know that
you are never alone and that hope is just one entry away!