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Using Journaling to Change Your Thoughts, Feelings, and Actions

Updated on January 31, 2023
denise.w.anderson profile image

An education specialist, Denise teaches the principles of emotional health for the establishment and maintenance of high-quality families.


Journaling is a Tool

Most people think of journaling as sitting down in a big over-stuffed chair with a leather-bound notebook and writing inspiring things to their children and grand-children. Although this may be one way to go about it, it is certainly not the only way.

Journaling delves into the inner being of the person, sharing beliefs, experiences and how they are interpreted, and the feelings associated with them. Psychologists have long encouraged patients to journal as a way of dealing with the experiences in their lives, both pleasant and unpleasant. According to the LDS Twelve Step Addiction Recovery Program, writing about one’s past brings issues into the open and allows them to be dealt with in a constructive manner. Writing about the present enables interpretation of experiences in light of current philosophy and beliefs.

Using a Journaling Chart

Jennifer called and left me a message. She said that she didn't want me to come to the party.
Jennifer doesn't like me. She doesn't want me to come.
I'm angry and frustrated.
Write her a nasty e-mail.
Jennifer wrote me back, telling me that she was concerned about how I would feel with Brock there. She knew he would come because he was related to the girl having the party. She didn't want me to confront him, since we broke up just last week.
Oh, it isn't that she doesn't like me. She is concerned about my feelings and wants me to be comfortable at the party. She knew it would be hard for me.
I'm surprised and unsure of what to do.
Apologize to her. Thank her for being concerned about my feelings.
Talked to Jennifer after the party. She said that Brock had been hanging out with another girl and that I would have been really uncomfortable seeing him with her.
My feelings for Brock are still too strong for me to deal with that kind of situation.
I'm glad that I wasn't at the party.
Ask Jennifer if we could get together some time and just hang out.
Hung out with Jennifer and had a blast!
I like Jennifer. She is cool. We enjoy being together.
I'm happy that we are still friends.
Spend time together again in the future.

Affirmation Journal




Positive message I found:

Where I found it:

How it helped me feel good about myself:

What I want to remember for the future:

My feelings about myself after this experience:

Journaling on the Computer

The computer has revolutionized the concept of journaling. On the computer, a person can simply type, or be creative through the use of fonts, clip art, pictures, and activities. Journaling can include charts, graphs, tables, music, or multi-media presentations. It can be done via e-mail or even on video or audio recordings. The computer enables files to be digitized, stylized, and synthesized. The key to effective journaling is the identification of the issue at hand, how it is affecting you, and exploring options in resolving it.

Sample of Visual Journal
Sample of Visual Journal | Source

Thought Process Journal




Negative emotion experienced:

Circumstances surrounding the negative emotion:

Negative thought patterns that lead to the negative emotion:

Tools used to change the negative emotion:

What happened as a result of my actions:

What I want to remember for the future:

Journaling Helps You Help Yourself and Others

Write about your past, your future, and your daily activities and experiences. Keep these things in a private place where others do not see them. Right now they are for you alone. As you grow in your confidence and strength, you will feel more able to share them with others.

Write about your experiences and the learning process will be accelerated. You will be able to look back at the things you have learned and remember them for the future. You will become more effective as you gain experience, and will be in a position to help others around you.

Conversational Journal

I am really angry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What seems to be the problem?

I can't believe what is happening!

You are having a tough time right now.

I feel so stupid! I just can't seem to do anything right!

You are feeling frustrated with yourself.

Today at work, I kept making mistakes!

You had a tough day at work.

Yes, it seemed like every time I turned around, I was doing something wrong!

You were frequently corrected because of something you did.

I just wanted to scream and kick someone!

You felt angry with yourself.

I had to do so many things over!

Wow. That must have been a bummer.

I just need to relax and unwind.

Sounds like a great idea.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Denise W Anderson


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