The 2007 film “Freedom Writers” is the true story of an inner city English teacher named Erin Gruwell who made numerous breakthroughs with her students by employing teaching methods that were ambitious and even a little risky. One such risky move involved assigning each student to start keeping a journal. The movie showcases some of the entries made in these journals and it is obvious that the effect it had on the students who wrote them was life-changing. What happened in the lives of some of those students was typical of the effects journaling has on anyone who takes on the task. Not every student’s story ended happily, but every person involved in that project went through some degree of change.
Here are just a few reasons why everyone should journal and how doing so promotes mental wellness.
Puts Things into Proper Perspective
Getting your thoughts out on paper can really help make sense of things that seem to be rooted in chaos and provide you with the step back necessary to seriously inventory what is going on in your life and how you perceive what is happening to you. Sometimes, writing your thoughts out on paper allows the opportunity to collect them in a far more organized way than your mind alone will let you. We think in abstract terms; words are concrete. When our thoughts are reduced to words, we really see all their base qualities and can deal with them on a more foundational level. The result is that, upon re-reading a journal entry, we understand more clearly what was really going on in those thoughts. This process of self-reflection can have profound results in your life.
Helps You Make Good Decisions
Your journal is a place where you can weigh the pros and cons of any situation without the background noise of other people stepping in and offering their advice. Sometimes we need to seek out that advice, but sometimes the answers to life’s more pressing questions can be found by simply understanding our thoughts at a given moment. Many problems don’t seem so huge when you have the chance to step away from them and examine them again later.
Safe Haven for Private Thoughts
When it comes to areas of confession and brutal, no-holds-barred honesty, no other outlet compares to journaling. You can say things to people in your journal you could never say to their faces and you can scrutinize things more openly as well. This is where all of your angels and demons have the chance to battle it out and they can do it with no one else there to judge, criticize, or interfere.
There is a real purging and cleansing quality to getting all of your negative thoughts and emotions out on paper. Mentally, it’s like taking them out of your head to make room for other – better – thoughts to take up residence. It can also help minimize the effects of anger, fear, resentment and all the other negatives that get poured into those less-than-happy entries.