Reflective journaling is a great way to unwind after a busy day. It enables you to express yourself without fearing judgment, criticism, or others’ opinions. It creates a safe space to talk about your struggles, reflect on past situations, and even plan your future actions. Even though journaling is a tried-and-true self-care practice, reflective journaling can be even more beneficial, especially if you need help finding yourself.
What is reflective journaling?
Reflective journaling is one of the types of self-reflection which implies writing down your past experiences and observing how they affect your emotional state. It’s commonly used in the academic world to help students describe the incidents or failures they encountered while elaborating on the lessons they learned.
Sometimes, reflective journaling is also used within companies to allow teammates to analyze past projects and draw out useful conclusions. It’s also a great self-care tool, enabling you to understand your emotional state slightly better.
What makes reflective journaling so different?
The most common characteristics of reflective journaling include a critical and analytical tone, learning possibilities, subjective approaches, and first-person writing. Though it resembles personal journals or diaries, its contents, structure, and focus on self-reflection set it apart from the crowd.
The benefits of reflective journaling
Reflective journaling has multiple benefits, particularly for people who want to find themselves. It promotes:
- Self-empowerment – unlike ordinary journaling, reflective journaling requires asking difficult questions to yourself and answering them in an honest manner. It can help you figure out what you’re doing, how, and why. By finding these answers, you can redefine your purpose, find a new path, or move in a better direction. The analytical approach will empower you to express your insights and make hard decisions. It will also prepare you for similar situations in the future;
- Self-awareness – reflective journaling can certainly help you make sense of past events, but it also promotes self-awareness. Not only will you analyze the experiences, but you’ll also concentrate on your emotions, struggles, or achievements. In that process, you’ll spend more time digging deep inside your true self, which, in turn, will bring you closer to who you are;
- Causal learning – by ‘forcing’ the writer to find reasons behind past incidents or experiences and connecting them to the present or future, reflective journaling also promotes causal learning. You start focusing on the links between different episodes of life, making it easier to acquire new knowledge. Moreover, reflective journaling documents your daily life. You can always go back and look through previous pages. By doing so, you may examine past knowledge from a different perspective which can create a new medium for learning;
- Self-examination – self-examination may be viewed in a negative light, yet it’s a significant part of personal growth. It doesn’t imply criticism, judgment, or self-doubt. Instead, it promotes self-acceptance. You see, reflective journaling allows you to remove all the social or professional masks and discover your real self. It leaves you vulnerable, exposing all the flaws, distinctive qualities, or strong features you have. If you’re not afraid of exploring your characteristics, you learn how to love and accept yourself just the way you are;
- Creativity – reflective journaling can also promote creativity as it’s a great tool for clearing your mind. Be it writer’s block or personal obstacle, it makes it possible to sort through the mental chaos and view things the way they are. Once your mind transitions from chaos to order, new ideas will start popping up in your head and you’ll start thinking more creatively.
Thanks to these benefits, reflective journaling brings you closer to your inner self. It can help you find yourself if you feel lost, stuck, or helpless. It lets you take control of your thoughts and emotions by helping you resolve them before they turn into a destructive avalanche.
Reflective journaling is a great tool for finding yourself, especially if you maintain discipline and use it consistently. You can’t journal one day a week and expect groundbreaking results. You have to write down your reflections and emotions every day. You can use it for work-related purposes, studies, relationships, or mental health.
Reflective journaling isn’t a simple practice as it requires asking the right questions. Don’t be afraid if you have a hard time writing when you first get started – it will get easier over time. You could also look into the available e-courses to learn more about reflective journaling and achieve better results.