Introspection Overload? The Value of Journaling
To my fellow over-thinkers, ruminators, and introspective-dwellers: I know what it’s like to feel “stuck in your head.“
It’s those moments when your mind starts to wander, and all your reflections and ponderings (whether they may be trivial or significant) begin to simulate a mountain that’s too exhausting to climb. I like to refer to this as ‘introspection overload’ — thinking that decides to examine a subject matter intricately and closely, inviting further thoughts to join the party, even though you reason that it’s probably time to take a few steps back.
This is one of the reasons why I love journaling. I have drawers devoted to several years of journal-keeping (including a precious gem from my second-grade self).
Besides my interest in writing and jotting down various notes, happenings, or musings that strike my fancy, journaling has become an integral component in reining in introspection. The transfer of your thoughts from your mind onto paper is a symbolic release in and of itself.
Phylameana lila Desy’s article suggests that journaling serves as a therapeutic outlet of sorts:
“Journaling can be a healing process to help you get in touch with your deepest yearnings, find resolve for problems, and deal with personal issues. Whatever type of painful emotion you are experiencing (grief, sadness, fear, isolation, etc.) expressing yourself in writing can help ease your discomfort.”
Alternative kinds of journaling (besides the basic ‘daily diary’ that’s best for making sense of your experiences) include: a gratitude journal (focusing on the positives is beneficial to any kind of healing); a dream journal (symbolism/scenarios in dreams may have important meanings, and self-analysis may help to uncover what that is); and a memory journal (writing down childhood stories may be a way to preserve memories for future sharing, but also may spark further understanding of the past).
Desy’s article references Julia Cameron’s advice. In The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Cameron suggests experimenting with various writing exercises to induce greater internal clarity. Unlike keeping a journal, she actually proposes an activity called “The Morning Papers,” where you take three sheets of blank paper, and allow your pen to mark down your stream of consciousness, writing down anything and everything that surfaces. While these pages are not meant to be kept, Cameron advocates that writing can generally serve as a cathartic tool to release negative thought processes.
According to Sandy Grason, author of Journalution: Journaling to Awaken Your Inner Voice, Heal Your Life and Manifest Your Dreams, journaling is an overall proficient method to simply get to know yourself better. “I believe each time you give yourself fully to the blank page, you get a little bit closer to your true Self,” Grason said. “It’s the place that your greatness can whisper to you and remind you of all that you came to this earth to be.”
So, my fellow over-thinkers, ruminators, and introspective-dwellers: there are probably other avenues that can quiet all the chatter in your head. Maybe a long walk is soothing, or maybe meditating and focused breathing exercises do the trick — it’s all up to you. I, for one, will always be an avid supporter of the journal. I should probably start creating more space for my collection.
Suval, L. (2013). Introspection Overload? The Value of Journaling. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 30, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/06/13/introspection-overload-the-value-of-journaling/