I’ve always struggled to share how I feel, especially if something is upsetting me. I started journaling early on in my marriage as a way to vent.
Usually my journaling would start out with something dramatic like, “WHY DID I MARRY HIM! UGH HE MAKES ME SOOOOOO MAD!!!!” and then would end with something like “I need to work on my patience and temper. He was only trying to get me see his perspective….”
Looking back on them, even though some of my high-drama entries are comical it really did help me to just be honest about how I was truly feeling in that second—even if that feeling was fleeting.
Over time, the role my journal played in my life changed. My husband and I started learning how to communicate better, so I had less to vent about. And as I matured, so did my journal. My journal started to become a place for self-reflection and for self-affirmation. It became a place for me to acknowledge the positive things I was doing in my life. This helped build up my very low self-esteem, even if just a little.
My journaling became a place where I can actively better myself. To give myself actual aspirations for the person I want to be. When I get really inspired by someone’s personal strength, maturity, kindness, strength, etc. I write it down!
My entries might look something like this: “Man, I love how she is such an awesome mom! She is constantly showing love and patience towards her kids, and I want to be like that too!”
Statements like that have started to fill the pages in my journal. There are a lot of lists of attributes I hope will define me one day. Many of these attributes fall into areas that I struggle in, like patience. I write down the things that people I see are strong in those areas are doing.
Now when I turn to my journal, it is to improve on a weakness in myself, not to vent about what I think are the weaknesses in other people. When you take time for self-reflection and see the weaknesses in yourself, you’re less likely to judge them for theirs. And by identifying my own faults, I can work on being a better person.
Journaling has taught me to look at myself before I point my finger at someone else. When I start to get annoyed, I look at myself and try to figure out what has got me so frustrated and how am I going to respond—instead of lashing out. So when my husband annoys me, I am a lot more patient. I am still nowhere near where I want to be, but I can see a huge difference in the level of patience I have now.
I am not that same girl I was when I started writing. I’ve done a lot of work to become the woman I want to be. And I have journaling to thank in part for that.