Daily journaling was one of the first promises I made to myself when I committed down the path of self-healing. Doing the work requires discipline, patience, and commitment. One of my biggest weaknesses was a lack of self-trust, which was fueled by the constant breaking of promises that I made to myself. Journaling forced me to show up for myself and confront things I was dealing with on a daily basis and built the muscle of consistency.
Journaling was a habit that was easy enough to commit to, and that helped me gain confidence that if I want to accomplish something, I have everything I need within me to show up and achieve that thing.
Whether you want to start a consistent journaling habit, or you had one, lost it, and want to feel re-inspired, there are ways to ignite that creative spark once more.
While I don’t think you need to follow a specific format or use specific prompts when it comes to your journaling, it’s helpful to have a place to start.
These three prompts are ones that I continuously come back to when I’m feeling overwhelmed or have built up energy that I can’t identify the source of.
Today, showing up for myself looks like…
For those days, when everything feels impossible, try and visualize one or two things that can make you feel good about how you’ve spent your time. Even if that means you prioritizing rest or self-care, write about what it means to show up for yourself on this specific day.
- What do you need?
- What does your body need?
- How will you feel once you’ve given yourself what you need?
When answering this prompt, try to separate what you think you need to accomplish to feel productive with what you need at this moment in time.
So many times, I set daily goals around things my clients need or trying to catch up on work that I’ve procrastinated on. It’s important not to feed the guilt you feel even more by putting pressure on yourself to give more than you’re able to at the moment.
Be radically honest with yourself about what showing up for yourself in this given moment looks like, and honor it. A lot of times, showing up for yourself means relinquishing control over what you think you need and focusing on what will refill your metaphorical cup until you can achieve all of the things you feel bad about not achieving.
What story am I telling myself?
Write about a situation where your mind told you a story that wasn’t rooted in reality.
Here’s an example.
I was working with a client who was usually responsive. One day, they stopped responding to my messages, and it went on for a few days where I didn’t hear back from them.
The story I told myself was that they were unhappy with the work I was doing, and we’re getting everything to fire me (dramatic, right?). In my head, I was going crazy with anxiety, trying to figure out what I had done wrong to warrant being ghosted. I felt nauseous and distracted for days. They were one of my favorite and highest paying clients. My mind was racing with how I was going to replace this income.
A few days later, I heard back. Their CEO was transitioning out and being replaced. My point of contact had to travel across the country to meet a new CEO, and there was a lot of chaos they had to deal with internally. It wasn’t about me at all.
I reacted the way I did because I felt scared and insecure. It helped me realize that I was a bit self-absorbed. It also made me realize that I should never be in a situation where one client potentially ghosting me puts in me in such a downward spiral emotionally and financially.
Now I have a list of ways to reality check the situation. Like, have I gotten any negative feedback? What was the last conversation we had? Did it go well?
Ask yourself these questions:
- How did you react to the story in your mind?
- How did reality differ from the story in your head?
- Why did you react the way you did?
- How did the story in your head make you feel?
- How can you reality check stories you tell yourself in the future?
Answering these questions helps put things in perspective and helps keep my mind from spiraling into every potential negative situation.
What am I afraid of?
I use this prompt to work through challenging emotions that like worry, anger, or guilt. A lot of times, these emotions all come down to fear. If I do X, then I am afraid of losing Y. If I feel X, then I fear Y will happen. Use this prompt to dig deep into what you’re really afraid of. I’ve found that most of the time, I’m harboring a bit of unearthed emotions around loss, fear of success, or lying to myself about something.
So ask yourself:
- What am I afraid of losing?
- What am I afraid of gaining?
- What am I afraid of admitting?
Journaling taught me things I didn’t know about myself. I was able to uncover patterns in my thoughts and behaviors, which highlighted a lack of boundaries as well as opened my eyes to the things that occupy most of my headspace. The more I journaled, the more I noticed patterns in my writing, which led to realizations about what I am genuinely passionate about.
Above all else, it’s a habit that forces you to confront your thoughts — sometimes ones you’ve been suppressing, or thoughts you didn’t even know you had. When you pick up a pen or open up a new document and just start writing with no intentions and no inhibitions, it might surprise you what comes out.
If you want to make journaling a consistent habit but are unsure what to write about, or if you’ve been journaling for a while and are feeling a bit stuck in your practice, you might benefit from our 15-day journaling challenge. Sign up for 15 days worth of mindful journaling prompts that will inspire you to get those thoughts out, build a habit, and dig deeper into your practice.