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Journaling 101 – monitoring our emotion

James W. Pennebaker, an American Social Psychologist has done 40 years of research into the links between writing and emotional processing. His experiments revealed that people who write about emotionally charged episodes experience a marked increase in their physical and mental well-being.

He would suggest that over time those who wrote about their feelings began to develop insight into what those feelings meant (or didn’t mean), using phrases such as “I have learned”, “It struck me that,” “The reason that,” “I now realize,” and “I understand.”

The process of writing allowed them to gain a new perspective on their emotions and to understand them and their implications more clearly.

Here’s an exercise that we can use to reflect through writing. We can do this every day, but it’s particularly useful when we’re going through a tough time or big transition, or if you’re feeling emotional turmoil or if you’ve had a difficult experience that you think we haven’t quite processed.

  • Set a timer for 20 minutes
  • Using either a notebook or computer, write about your emotional experiences from the past week, month, or year
  • Don’t worry about making it perfect or readable: go where your mind takes you.
  • At the end, you don’t have to save the document; the point is that those thoughts are now out of you and on the page.

Try focusing on the right vocabulary, intensity and then writing it out.

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Categories: Reading Notes

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