13 reasons why I like journaling more than therapy

journal writing prompts

journal writing prompts

13 reasons why I like journaling more than therapy

I have been keeping a journal since I was a girl, capturing my thoughts and stories, my tragedies and triumphs on the lined pages of colorful blank books. I must have had a diary at some point, too, you know the kind, with a heart-shaped lock on the cover and a pair of keys on tiny satin ribbons. I have always found journaling to be a powerful resource for healing, self-discovery and exploration. Being able to pour my hopes, fears, dreams or anger onto the page has probably saved me quite a few dollars and a few extra years of therapy.

If you go to Pinterest these days and search for “Art Journal” you will find some beautiful and very artful pages that combine images, text and layers of collage, paint and ephemera. While I enjoy this process of creating artful pages, I realized that something was missing for me. Dare I admit it? I missed the therapy! Really, it’s true, I am addicted to self-development and personal growth, I read self-help books ad nauseum, looking for the next great writing prompt, guided visualization or clue about my inner life. I guess there are much worse addictions, aren’t there?

Journaling is a playground for nurturing our inner life.

I have been to various therapists, psychics, coaches and self-help gurus over the years, searching for myself. Each person, book, workshop or event offered some tidbit, some insight that helped me to piece together the puzzle that is me. Throughout all of it, journaling has been the most constant and dynamic tool for self-discovery in my repertoire of personal development tools. In combination with guided visualization, writing prompts, doodling, and collage, journaling becomes a playground for nurturing our inner life.

Please note: this post is written with a sense of humor and from the perspective of someone who has been in therapy and am glad I am not anymore! If you are struggling with issues like depression, addiction, or abuse, I encourage you to talk to a professional therapist. They are wonderful, helpful people and sometimes we need their help first before we are able to help ourselves. I know I did twenty years ago and I am grateful for the experience. I am not suggesting you replace therapy with journaling but I encourage you to start a journaling practice regardless of where you are in your healing process.

how to write a journal

Here are 13 reasons why I like journaling more than therapy:

  1. Journaling is cheaper. All you need is pen and paper, though I am personally partial to gorgeous blank books with no lines.
  2. You can journal anywhere, anytime. I always have at least one blank book in every bag, purse or briefcase.
  3. Journaling is faster than therapy! Who has years to spend on psychoanalysis?
  4. You can journal alone.
  5. You can journal with friends.
  6. Journaling is about healing and growth. Yes, so is therapy but you have to dig through the past to get there.
  7. Journaling is WAY more fun! Trust me, I know! Especially when you add color, doodles and collage.
  8. Journaling encourages you to look at your life from an artist’s perspective – you can see things differently and see the patterns that you are creating.
  9. Journaling teaches you how to be creative again and give voice to your thoughts, without over analyzing. Sometimes it’s important just to notice and record what’s happening.
  10. Journaling inspires you to dream big!
  11. The blank page is a great place to dump your feelings and process them quickly: get mad and get over it. This has saved me a few fights with my hubby and if you ask him he will gladly tell you he’s happy he met me post-therapy. Harrumph!
  12. The journal page creates distance between you and life’s events, allowing you to look back at them more objectively and see how you have changed, grown or progressed towards your dreams and goals.
  13. Did I mention that journaling is CREATIVE?? Anything that involves pens, paper, paint, crayons, scissors and glue must be way more fun than therapy in my book.

I find myself collecting all types of odds and ends in my journals. Bits of writing, tickets, words torn out of magazines, poems I like or old photos all mix with my personal journal writing to create a record of my life. I don’t always keep my journals. I frequently fill them and toss them away. When we moved across country last year, I went through an entire banker’s box of old journals and discarded all but a few favorites. I might regret this later but I doubt it. For me, the joy of journaling is in the act of creation and self-discovery. Most of what’s in my journal wouldn’t interest anyone else except maybe my therapist!

 

Journaling prompts are one of the many personal development tools that I use in the HeartWise Sister Circle, a monthly membership group for women who are looking for a safe, supportive place to to grow, rediscover themselves and remember how to be creative! If you are feeling isolated, lonely or just need inspiration to get your life going in a new direction, join us! We are having so much fun.

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16 Comments

  1. Mel Diamond on April 16, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Great post Minette. I’m re-discovering the joy of journaling myself, currently reading ‘Writing Down Your Soul’ by Janet Conner. Highly recommended. 🙂

    • minette on April 16, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      Awesome, thanks for the book recommendation. I don’t know that one.

  2. Mystic Comfort on April 16, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    I completely agree about the value of journaling!! I have been doing so since I got my very first diary when I was nine.

  3. Oceana Leblanc on April 16, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    What a wonderful article! You’re inspiring me to pick up my journal again and actually write with markers and color as opposed to the habit I’ve gotten into of only using my computer. It’s so true that there are epiphanies waiting to happen when we put pen to paper. Love your sense of humor and authenticity. Great blog.

    • minette on April 16, 2013 at 3:12 pm

      Thanks, Oceana, there is nothing as freeing as writing with markers. It feels less like work and more like play!

  4. Bonnie Anderson on April 16, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    I have a friend that journals who reminds me of you. She has shelves of them, though I don’t think she could ever throw one away. She’s doing this challenge – The Romantic Vineyard. Have you read her posts yet? Thank you for your journaling inspiration. Nice blog.

    • minette on April 16, 2013 at 3:13 pm

      Hi Bonnie, thanks foe the recommendation, I will go check it out!

  5. Deb Dutilh on April 16, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    I’ve been journaling forever, too, and recording my dreams. That makes for a lot of pages. I go through phases where sometimes I might not write for several weeks at a time. In spite of many international moves, my journals and dream journals have stayed with me. I actually go back and read them at times. The memories come back to me vividly and are also a source of inspiration. Thanks for a wonderful post!

    • minette on April 16, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      Love that you have traveled with your journals in tow!! While I write frequently, I often go through phases of several days on and several weeks off. I have learned to trust the guidance on when to write and am learning to use other creative tools like SoulCollage for creative playtime too.

  6. Holly Genser on April 16, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Hi Minette,

    I love this article. I’ve been journaling since I was a teen. My journal is where I’m heard and understood, and where I get my best ideas.

    • minette on April 16, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      Holly – I love what you said, “My journal is where I’m heard and understood.” So true, well put!!

  7. Alana ( on April 16, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Strangely, for the poetry writing I did after my mother died (I was 12) and, most recently, 4 years of blogging, I’ve never tried journaling. You may be interested in hearing that the therapist who helped me through a rough patch of depression many years ago was a great believer in journaling, but also said she did not recommend it for me. Her experience was that writing about depression could actually make the depression worse. (I found my way out, partially by starting exercise classes and also learning some new patterns of thinking). I know journaling works for a lot of people and I’m glad it has worked well for you.

    • minette on April 16, 2013 at 6:48 pm

      Hi Alana, I agree with your therapist that writing about depression can make you feel worse, especially if you don’t have a support system in place to help you express your feelings safely. For me journaling can create the same highs as exercise by getting me out of my head and back into my body. I often use writing prompts or journal prompts to get me started or work with colors on the page to help express my feelings.

  8. Jessica Winters Mireles on April 17, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Minette, you are such the earth mother! I always get so much out of what you share through your blog. So glad to have you in my life.

    • minette on April 17, 2013 at 11:06 am

      Thanks, Jessica!! I appreciate your feedback and am glad you are in my life, too!! Big hug!

  9. Jane Doe on December 31, 2020 at 3:18 am

    I personally have found journaling more personal and helpful. I went to therapy for almost 2 years and it didn’t help as I didn’t feel comfortable telling a stranger with a laptop my problems and feelings, but to each their own. Great article, by the way!

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