Why “Journaling” Is A Bad Word

What goes through your mind when your therapist says to "journal?" What about a friend who says they journal? 

Those who already journal appreciate the value but for those who don't journal yet, Journal is a bad word. 


Because it seems like it's meant for those who like to write, but it actually has little to do with writing, per se, and much more to do with thinking, problem solving, and relieving stuck emotions. 

But many people struggle with journaling or writing because even if you write many don't always connect to the paper they are writing on. 

I've been writing for years and it took me a while to finally embrace writing as an extension of my mind and thoughts. 

And really only once we do that do we have an incredible coping mechanism. 

You see, the problem is that if someone said something nasty to you, we like to believe that it's a "them" problem and simply brush it off of our shoulders; and many times that is the case. 

However, many times when we think we are brushing something off, what is actually happening is that we are shoving it under the rug with the false belief that "I'm strong and these small things don't bother me." 

If that particular event didn't bother you, then fine. But what about the times when you became unreasonably irritated at someone and then after the event you realized that your reaction to the person was not commensurate with what happened?

Are you aware why that is happening? 

In many instances that can be Projection, where a person projects their feelings of a prior and unrelated event or person and attaches it to someone else. 


If you notice that your emotions don't match the situation, ask yourself where you were, what you did, or what you looked at before the current situation. You might be projecting.

“If you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you.”

  • Madeleine L’Engle

What is Projection?

For example, an unexpected deadline was just dropped on you at work. Now you feel a lot of pressure, but the day is over and the deadline is tomorrow. As you get in the car to go home you try to refocus on what needs to be done at home now. However, the problem is while your mind may have shifted in thoughts your feelings have not yet been resolved regarding the pressure of the deadline. 

So you go home and engage in a more intense approach than you would otherwise, possibly mistreating those you love. 

This is a stuck feeling or an unresolved feeling. 

In those moments we are usually too distracted to realize what is going on internally. 

The only way to tell is to self assess and ask "did I react more intensely to a calm situation than I should have?" 

Then search for the thought/feeling discrepancy to learn that you are talking about home related things with the intensity of deadlines at work. 

But in most cases this process of self evaluation and understanding the mind and heart relationship only begins when we put pen to paper or typing. 

So the next time you feel anxious and it doesn't fit the scenario, put pen to paper and just start writing. Do it unprofessionally. Do it for no one to see or judge. No grammar. Just write your thoughts as they come. 

For example, "I just walked through an isle in Walgreens and felt in a rush don't know why. But I became passive aggressive to the other customer who wouldn't move their cart quick enough. Its not usually like me. It means something is bothering me and it can't be the person who I don't know in Walgreens. I don't know them. So something else is bothering me. I can't figure it out. I feel stuck now. Is this Journaling? Not sure if I'm doing this right because its not resolved now. Wait! Just before I entered Walgreens I was checking my emails and saw i have a long email from my boss which I didn't open yet and he sounds upset.

Yes! That's it! Wow so I identified the feeling. But now what? I think Id probably feel better to take a 2 minute break and read the email and resolve it asap so I can resolve that issue! 

Yes. That's what I'm going to do!" 

This is an example. 

So the next time you feel you are acting differently to the typical expectation of a circumstance don't "journal," go ahead, think and assess the contrast of your mind and thoughts instead; just use paper or typing so it becomes easier to express.