One of the most powerful ways to get to know yourself is through journaling. Journaling helps you connect to your inner wisdom, which is especially important in our noisy world, according to Sandy Grason, author of the book Journalution: Journaling to Awaken Your Inner Voice, Heal Your Life and Manifest Your Dreams.

“There are so many voices out there telling you who to be, how to act, what to do.”

It also comes in handy when those loud voices are coming from inside. “I have found that your Inner Wisdom whispers and your Inner Critic yells, so you have to get quiet in order to hear your inner wisdom. Journaling is one way to get quiet,” she said.

Journal Prompts for Self-Discovery

Journal writing has no rules, Grason said. Just set a timer and start writing. Don’t stop until your timer rings. Below are five prompts from Grason’s inspiring book.

1. “I don’t want to write about.” This is Grason’s all-time favorite prompt. “It’s just another trick to get your subconscious to let go of ‘protecting’ you from the feelings that are hiding beneath the surface and to let the real you show up on the blank page,” she said.

Set a timer for 10 minutes and write anything that comes to you. The goal is to be honest and vulnerable, Grason said. Write about the most difficult thing you can think of, she said. After you’re done, you can rip it up.

She gave the following examples: “I don’t want to write about how I’m still mad at my mother for…” or “I don’t want to write about how I’m afraid that my relationship is falling apart…”

“Sometimes we tend to ‘write around’ the real issues in our lives. We want to make our journals pretty and perfect, when life is never perfect. Allowing yourself to write about the one thing you definitely don’t want to write about will take you right to the heart of what you need to work out on the blank page.”

2. “Who am I now?” Again, set the timer for 10 minutes and respond to this question. Also, consider who you were at different points in your life, such as when you were 8, 16 and 25. Explore the following, Grason writes:

Who were you then? Describe the differences between who you were and who you are becoming. How will the coming months and years transform your life? Then describe the you that has always been here. What is that person’s vision of your life? How has she or he guided you? Have you been listening, or have you been living on auto-pilot? When was the last time you checked in with the inner you that is always there?

3. “Things I love.” How often do you take the time to figure out what truly makes you happy? Write about anything that brings you joy and makes you smile, including the pricey stuff – like tropical getaways — and the priceless – like bubble baths and family outings at the beach. Add to this list regularly.

4. “Affirm how wonderful you are.” Make a list of 10 great qualities, and tell yourself that it’s safe to be you. Grason includes the following example of an affirmation her friend, Jennifer, created: “It is safe to be Jennifer. I am funky, intelligent, creative, wise, multifaceted, powerful, rich, exciting, joyful, energetic, healthy, and connected to Spirit. I bring that special Jenniferness to everything I do.”

5. “Conversation with your 99-year-old self.” Pretend that you’re 99 years old, very wise and in perfect health. According to Grason, answer the following questions in your journal: “What would you have me know? What should I concentrate on in the coming days and years? What things could I do or experience that would have the most positive impact on my life?”

What If Someone Reads Your Journal?

People often don’t journal because they’re afraid of others reading their writing, Grason said. She used to feel the same way. But over time, she found that our thoughts feel bigger when they’re swirling around our minds. Jotting them down on paper brings them down to size. “…Once you pour it all out onto the blank page, you can get some perspective and it doesn’t feel as scary any more,” she said.

In fact, Grason features many of her personal journal entries in Journalution. “It’s all just pieces of me on the page, the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.”

Again, journal writing is a great way to get to know yourself. As Grason said, “I believe each time you give yourself fully to the blank page, you get a little bit closer to your true Self. It’s the place that your greatness can whisper to you and remind you of all that you came to this earth to be.”

Learn more about journaling and Sandy Grason at her website.