Journaling can be a useful tool for working through your emotions and feelings. Using prompts can make your job easier.
If you’ve tried writing down your thoughts and feelings, you probably know that getting started isn’t always easy. But using the right log prompts can get you started.
Haley Neidich, psychotherapist and licensed mental health counselor, explains that journaling is an easily accessible, low-commitment emotional management tool.
The simple act of writing things down can help you overcome many emotional challenges that may be holding you back. Journaling can be a great tool for your emotional health, especially if you make it part of your daily routine.
“Having a private space to let out and explore your inner world can help you create perspective in your life and clarify your needs,” says Neidich.
But if a blank page seems intimidating, you might find it useful to use prompts.
Identifying how you feel is an integral part of developing emotional awareness.
If you’re unsure whether you’re feeling anger, sadness, or disappointment, working with prompts can help you uncover those emotions and process them.
Some people can often experience emotional difficulties because they can hide how they feel.
“When we can look at it directly and sit with it, the distress usually decreases,” adds Neidich.
Getting to the root of how you feel can also help you better understand those emotions and how they affect you.
Neidich recommends these starting journal prompts for dealing with feelings:
- What emotion(s) am I trying to avoid right now?
- Why am I trying to hide this emotion?
- What does this emotion expect of me?
- What’s stopping me from addressing this feeling?
If you are often hard on yourself, even when people around you are supportive, you might benefit from some self-compassion work.
Self-judgment that occurs due to cognitive distortions can make it difficult to be kind to oneself. Cognitive distortions are filtered thoughts that make things more negative.
Neidich suggests using the following writing prompts to work on self-compassion:
- What’s the point of being hard on myself?
- What would it take for me to be kinder to myself right now?
- What would it be like if I talked to myself like I would to a small child?
“These prompts are generally more effective when each question is answered sequentially,” says Neidich. She adds that the last prompt is one of the “most powerful exercises available.”
As you begin your journaling exercises, try to remember that self-compassion begins with not putting yourself down.
Going through heartbreak, whether it’s because of the end of a relationship or a major loss, can be difficult. Journaling can be a helpful way to process your emotions and heal.
“A breakup is a great time to clarify your wants and needs for future relationships,” says Neidich. She suggests using this time to look within and focus on your values and desires.
The following prompts can help you overcome grief:
- What did I learn (about myself, others, relationships, life) from this relationship or loss?
- What has this relationship taught me about what I want and don’t want in a life partner?
Attachment theory, a concept devised by psychiatrist John Bowlby, says that infants form different bonds with their primary caregivers. The quality of these bonds depends on the caregiver’s willingness to meet the baby’s needs.
Children who develop secure attachments tend to have their needs met most of the time. They often become adults capable of forming and maintaining healthy relationships.
Children who have had inconsistent responses to their needs are more likely to develop anxious connections with others.
Research from 2016 suggests that those who do not form secure emotional bonds with their caregivers may experience difficulty with adult relationships.
If you’re struggling with emotional safety in your relationships, Neidich suggests it may be helpful to work through the following journal prompts with your partner:
- What boundaries do I need to set in this relationship to feel safe?
- What are my needs in this relationship?
- What do I need from my partner to meet them?
“Knowing each other’s needs and figuring out how and if you are able to meet those needs can build an incredibly strong partnership and help avoid resentment and emotional pain,” says Neidich.
Journaling is a useful tool for processing your feelings and working on your emotional health.
Prompts can make logging more accessible and efficient. Using them regularly can help you explore how you feel and how to use those emotions to strengthen your emotional well-being.
Strong emotions can arise from journaling exercises. This is why it is advisable to seek the help of a mental health professional who can help you develop coping skills to better manage your emotions.