3 Reasons Journaling Helps Introverts
I’ve identified myself as a ‘journal junkie’ for many years now.
It started around age 12, when I discovered my older sister had been keeping a VERY SECRET journal, which lived under her pillow.
I instantly became fascinated with this object. The secrecy… the mystery… the angst.
So I started my own.
*Note: I quickly started calling them journals because ‘diary’ somehow made it seem lame. I’ve now learnt that a diary is less personal than a journal. In the latter, you record your feelings and emotions more than just the events of the day.
I still have these journals, and have tried on occasion to read them. I learnt quickly that trying to do so was akin to giving my ego a Chinese burn. Ouch.
Still, I’ve been journalling on-and-off for 16 years now, and I feel like I’ve finally started to understand why it has become such an addictive habit.
As an introvert, I naturally prefer to end my day by curling up with my journal – as opposed to buzzing around at a social event. But if I look a bit deeper, I can see clearly that journalling is the introvert’s panacea.
It helps us in a multitude of ways.
Not that all us introverts need ‘help’ exactly. For the same reason most of us can agree we need to move our bodies to stay healthy and feel energised: we can use journaling to keep our mind healthy.
3 Reasons Journaling Helps Introverts
1) It makes us more productive
Since reading ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron, I’ve added a second journalling session to my day (told you I’m an addict.)
By starting the day with, as Julia describes, writing three ‘morning pages’:
Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing,
done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*
Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and
synchronise the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put
three pages of anything on the page… and then do three more pages tomorrow.
I’ve found that doing this clears any of the mental ‘clutter’ we’re likely to take to our desks as we sit down to work. Getting all those annoying thoughts out BEFORE we start work allows us to focus on the important tasks.
It’s amazing what comes out in these early morning journaling sessions. My mind hasn’t started to censor itself, so all the juiciest stuff gets revealed.
I find that when I do start my work for the day, I’m far more focussed, and ultimately more productive. I don’t have the niggling distractions because I’ve already ‘got them out’.
2) It helps us communicate with others
Introverts often find there is a sometimes colossal difference between what we’re thinking and what our mouths allow us to express.
Countless times I’ve found myself cooking up a brilliant soliloquy in my head, and when it’s time to express it in words I end up stuttering and stalling until I just give up.
It’s frustrating, to say the least.
For some reason, writing these gigantic thoughts has never been difficult. From writing love letters to that boy (who’s never see them of course) to writing a letter of resignation to my boss I was too afraid to speak to: I’ve always recognised this gulf that separates my brain from my mouth.
That’s where journalling comes in. It’s the introverts helpful translator. It brings our ginormous ideas out to the world (should we want to express them.)
It allows us to formulate our ideas and thoughts and feelings and take them one step closer to being transformed into speech.
Once I’ve written something, I know it’s getting me one step closer to telling someone. Journalling is that bridge that connects our inner mind to the outer world.
3) It calms our minds
One trait that seems to plague many of us, but particularly many introverts, is overthinking.
Of course, thinking is a pretty vital part of being human, but letting thoughts – the kind that cause stress – to circulate around our minds again and again… that isn’t so useful.
Another case of ‘too much of a good thing?
Writing our thoughts down, particularly the ones we tend to allow to go on repeat, is a way of pressing pause.
Often, when I write down one of these stressful thoughts, I can see how minor the issue actually is.
Or a solution to a problem I can’t seem to solve pops up, literally as I write down the issue I’m having.
Journalling almost becomes a way of self-counselling. Who needs to pay to see an expensive shrink when you have a pad and a pen at the ready?
It’s quick, cheap and risk-free.
My prescription? Buy yourself a journal and start writing today.