Writing to yourself is an important means of self expression. Whether you call it a diary or refer to it as a journal, having a place to write down your thoughts, feelings, memories and personal impressions about life can be healing and teach you to know yourself better. It can also unlock the power of your creativity, and inspire you to manifest dreams that might otherwise stay hidden. If you don’t keep a diary already, here are 8 good things that will happen when you start writing diaries.
1. You’ll Know Yourself better
History tells us that the Greek philosopher Socrates, often credited as the source for the famous adage Know Thyself, used a method of teaching which involved dialogues, questions and answers between individuals going back and forth that whittled an issue down to its deepest level of truth. When writing a diary, it is very common for us to engage in similar forms of inquiry on paper, writing out questions about life and then answering them ourselves.
Whether you come to a final truth in the end is less important than the actual process of giving voice to your own inner reasoning and various points of view. This process of allowing more than one point of view to emerge encourages you to witness your own self, even when it may be fragmented, unsure, or expressing emotions that contradict each other. It allows you to see and acknowledge your true complexity. Witnessing the richness of your human experience and being able to see it on paper truly helps you to, as the great philosopher said, know thyself.
2. You’ll Express Yourself
Expressing yourself is another important aspect of keeping a diary. Beyond simply offering a means of self expression through the written word, often diaries are full of doodles and drawings that accentuate the actual text of what is being written. These doodles can be as simple as the butterflies drawn by a child who is joyful, or the tornadoes on the edge of the paper created by a teenager who is disturbed.
Regardless of the actual content, this mirror of expression allows you to say what otherwise might be too challenging to say and give voice to emotions that may otherwise be repressed. It allows you to rehearse difficult conversations on paper as well. Having the blank page to fill up is in many ways an analogy to life, seeing yourself be expressed one letter and one doodle at a time.
3. You’ll Work Through Hard Choices
When life sends you any kind of challenge, you can work through those options in your diary, noting the moral implications as well as the emotional pains of decisions that are difficult to make. As an extreme example, here is a link to a famous diary entry of a Patrick Breen, a member of the ill fated Donner party group of pioneers who were trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the winter of 1846-1847, some of whom resorted to cannibalism
4. You’ll Develop Emotional Intimacy
Keeping a diary is a process not only of self expression but also self reflection. As you read what you have written, whether it is a recent entry or one from many months or years ago, it becomes a means of listening to yourself and uncovering the emotional landscape of who you truly are. By developing this sense of intimacy with yourself, it opens the possibility for greater emotional intimacy with others.
5. You’ll Feel Better as You Put Your Thoughts and Feelings on Paper
Often, a diary is that safe place where we can unleash thoughts or emotions that might be too uncomfortable to express in a more public setting. Whether it is venting anger, writing about a romantic crush, or being the important place to grieve the loss of a loved one, having a safe place to release your thoughts and emotions usually makes you feel better as a whole by providing an outlet for thoughts and feelings that otherwise could otherwise get bottled up inside of you.
6. You’ll Build Memories on Paper
Sometimes even the smallest details of events in our past are items we grow to cherish as we get older. By keeping a detailed diary you are documenting those moments in your life that are worth writing about.
7. You’ll Brainstorm New Ideas
Having the opportunity to brainstorm and toss out ideas without being attached to an outcome is a diary tool used by some of the worlds greatest artistic geniuses. Here is an example of how film director Stanley Kubrick used this technique to arrive at the title of one of his most famous films.
8. You’ll Create a Map That Holds Secrets to Your Own Evolution
A diary reveals far more about a person than simply the details of what is written inside of it. You don’t have to hold a college degree in the science of Graphology (handwriting analysis) to see how your own handwriting reveals secrets about your psychological state of being. Noticing how your handwriting changes as you grow older, when it is bold and confident versus when it small and timid, is just one of the interesting benefits of keeping a diary over a long period of time.
These 8 reasons to start a diary will hopefully get you started.