8 Journaling Practices To Propel Your Personal Growth

Do you ever feel like you’re not even sure how you feel until you write it down, or talk it out? That’s why journaling is such a powerful practice. It allows you to let it all out without putting it all onto someone else.

Journaling is without a doubt one of the best ways to self-reflect and discover parts of yourself that you didn’t know existed, to work through problems and really figure out why you do the things you do. If we don’t take the time to reflect, we can bottle up our emotions that can affect us through physical pain, getting sick or acting out and making choices that don’t align with our values.

Here are some fun and interesting ways you can practice journaling, beyond just writing down how you’re feeling.


Write about a difficult person

“The most powerful writing practice exercise I have used in my writing classes and with my coaching clients, I learned from best-selling author Natalie Goldberg. It is a way to write about a difficult person, someone with whom you have hard feelings.

First, you write for ten minutes detailing everything negative about that person. You let the venom loose, raging on the page while being as specific as possible because concrete images bring you close to the experience. Then, you write for ten minutes about every positive trait that person might have. Again, you capture sensory details to record your thoughts. Finally, you write for ten minutes about this same person from a completely neutral point of view, dropping judgment and simply recording what is.” – Nita Sweeney, Author of Depression Hates a Moving Target


Practice “Directed Journaling”

“One of my favorite techniques is something I call Directed Journaling. Schedule a series of 15-minute sessions over the course of a few days, and do free-writing/brainstorming on a specific topic or question during that time.

Ask yourself anything from “What do I want?” to “How can I solve this problem?” to “How do I write this book, launch this podcast, start this blog, brand my new business, etc.”

The trick is to do at least three brainstorms before looking at your journal entries. Once you have sufficiently expressed all of your thoughts on the topic, read through everything and note the common elements. The things that you write about the most should give you huge insight into your next steps.” – Debra Eckerling, Founder of The D*E*B Method

Separate your heart from your mind

“Think of a topic or situation you’d like clarity on. At the top of the page, write “For this topic/situation, my mind says…” following with whatever comes up. Continue writing until you feel you’ve captured everything your mind has to say on the subject, then turn to a new page. At the top, write “For this topic/situation, my heart says…” and then write whatever your heart says on the subject.” – Nicole M. Diaz, Life Coach & Business Strategist

Visualize rock-bottom you

“I find visualization and writing are beneficial to changing someone’s perspective of a current impediment. This technique provides clarity of mind and reflection toward a current situation.

1. At the top of the page, write a common excuse you use that keeps you from attaining your goals. We will revisit this.
2. Now, think of rock-bottom you. This could be feeling crumby for a day, or for a few months. What does rock-bottom you look like? Write a character sketch.
3. Now, tell rock bottom you, 2-3 things they would be crazy proud of.
4. Finally, revisit your excuse at the top of the page. Imagine sitting with rock-bottom you. Tell them the excuse that keeps you from attaining your goals.
If rock-bottom you asked, ‘How is that working for you?’ What would you respond?”

Create a bedtime journaling ritual

“One effective way to journal is keep a journal next to your bed and write before you go to bed, take five minutes and write what did you accomplished that day. 

You can grow this further by writing: 
  • What you accomplished
  • What you didn’t accomplish
  • What can you do better
If you don’t like seeing a therapist, write down your feelings for the day. Good or bad, just let your emotions pour out and after 5-10 minutes, close your journal and go to sleep.
When you are journaling don’t worry about spelling. This is just an exercise to get things out of your system or honest self reflection. You are not writing a book. You simply learning more about yourself.” – Kevin Lockett, Author of “The Digital Handbook 2020”

Write down inspiring quotes

“If you are reading inspirational books or articles, copy passages or quotes that speak to you. When I read something particularly inspiring or uplifting that resonates with me, I transcribe pertinent passages or quotes in my journal. I often refer to those past journals and continue to find inspiration and encouragement from the words I copied down. That said, make sure the books and articles you read are bringing light to your soul. Just as our journal writing needs to focus on finding meaning in a situation, so should our reading. Be a discerning reader. There are too many inspirational and encouraging books available to bother reading one that makes you feel worse.” – Mary Potter Kenyon, certified grief counselor and author of “Expressive Writing for Healing

Create characters for your inner self

“Write to an inner part of yourself as if you were writing a script for a play. Assign names to your parts for example: inner child; inner elder; witness; spiritual self; physical self; intellect; emotional self… Let the pen flow freely as you write the authentic conversation between these different parts.” – Jesse Johnson, Founder & CEO, Jesse Johnson Coaching, Inc.

Respond to old entries

“If you’ve been journaling for a while, make use of your old writing. Re-read a journal entry from six months, a year, or even several years ago. Go through the entry several times and try to remember as much of its context as you can: where were you when you were writing it? How were you feeling? What was the weather like? What happened in the news that day? After some reflection, start a new entry in response to the old one. If the entry was about a challenge you were facing, write about whether or not it has been resolved. If it hasn’t been resolved, write about how you now face it differently. Hold a conversation with your past self and take time to consider how you’ve grown and changed.” – Kalev Rudolph, Travel Writer
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