Journaling is one of my favorite therapeutic interventions. Theres something almost magical about putting pen to paper and seeing what emerges.

Writing takes all of the things that are jumbled around in your head and brings them to awareness. Journaling can help clarify your thoughts and feelings. The paper also provides a holding space for your fears, worries and hurts, allowing you to come back to them when youre equipped to cope.

“Before you can accept yourself, you must know yourself.” – Sharon Martin, LCSW

Despite all the benefits of journaling, many of my clients tell me they dont know what to write about. Sometimes its best to just write stream of consciousness whatever comes to mind without filtering. Other times, structured questions such as these can produce interesting new insights.

There truly is no right or wrong way to journal. However, these pointers can help you get the most out of journaling.

  • Write whats in your heart. Dont overthink it.
  • Capture as many details as you can. When you think youre done answering the question, push yourself to write another sentence or two.
  • Try to write daily, even if its just for five minutes.

  1. What is the nicest thing someone has ever done for you or said to you? Why did this mean so much?
  2. If you could go back in time, what would you say to yourself at age 5 or 15 or 25? (Feel free to answer for any or all of the ages.)
  3. Whats the best purchase you ever made? Why?
  4. If you could change just one thing about yourself, what would it be? How do you think your life would be better? Have you ever tried to change it?
  5. What do you want people to remember about you?
  6. What keeps you up at night?
  7. Describe the best birthday you ever had.
  8. A mission statement is a concise way of explaining an organizations purpose and goals. Write a mission statement for yourself.
  9. When I was a child I liked to ___________________________.
  10. Im afraid people wont like/love/accept/want me if they knew _______________ about me.
  11. If I really loved myself I would ______________________________.
  12. Where do you feel safe and loved?
  13. What do you wish your parents did differently while raising you?
  14. Whats your biggest regret? What have you done to make amends and/or forgive yourself?
  15. If a genie magically appeared, what would you wish for? (Just remember, no wishing for more wishes!)
  16. When Im an old woman/man, I hope _______________________.
  17. I think Im really good at ________________ and I know this because _________________.
  18. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
  19. What are you proud of? What do you see as your biggest accomplishment?
  20. What would you do if you werent afraid?

On this blog, I write a lot about the importance of loving and caring for yourself. Answering all 20 questions fully will help you understand yourself better. They will probably remind you of events youd forgotten or bring back feelings youd pushed deep inside. They may help you create new dreams for your life and reconnect with whats most important.

All of these things are part of you. Invite them into your consciousness and into your actions. Theres no need to judge whether theyre right or wrong. They are all important parts of you. In order to love yourself, you have to first know yourself. This is a great place to begin.

If you’d like a free PDF version of these journaling questions, simply sign-up below for access to the download (and the rest of my Resource Library).

2016 Sharon Martin, LCSW. All rights reserved.


Photo of woman journaling from