Self-Reflection Journaling

Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.
— Eleanor Roosevelt

Self-reflection is simply asking thought-provoking questions to develop a deeper level of understanding about yourself. It is the time we take out of our daily life to reflect on ourselves.  The ability to think about questions such as what is going well, where do we need to place our focus, and even just to get in touch with our inner dialogue has many benefits to our health and well-being and even the well-being of others. 

Many of us may think of journaling as something laborious.  Something we start and then lose interest in doing. A self-reflection journal is not the same asrecording the happenings and events of your life.  When we put words to our feelings, we bring those emotions to a place where we can examine them rationally and practically.

Self-reflection isn’t ruminating and worrying, nor it is a time to engage in unproductive self-criticism.  It is a deliberate practice of focusing on important questions related to the quality of our lives. Journaling helps to explore and release emotions and engages both hemispheres of the brain tofully engage your mind (Ullrich, et. al 2002)

Benefits of self-reflection journaling

  • Enhances understanding of others
  • Exposes and challenges assumptions
  • Encourages personal adaptability
  • Helps you gain a stronger sense of control
  • Improves self-confidence
  • Solve problems more effectively

When we write, we engage the left brain, which is analytical and rational. When your left brain is involved, your right brain is free to imagine, creative, and activate your imagine. By engaging your entire brain, you can remove mental blocks and activate all of your brainpower to understand yourself better, others and the world around you. One of the best way to see an appreciative change in your life is to make self-reflection journaling a routine part of your life. 

Here are some tips on how to get started:

1)    Time. Set aside 5-10 minutes a day at the same time of day whenever possible. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss a day or two just pick it up again when you find as soon as possible.  

2)    Place. Find a place is reasonably quiet 

3)    Let Thoughts Flow.  Begin anywhere, and forget spelling and punctuation. Privacy is critical if you are to write without censor. Write quickly, as this frees your brain from “shoulds” and other blocks to successful journaling. 

4)    Use Themes. Try using a theme for the day, week or month (for example, peace of mind, confusion, change or anger). 

5)    Structure.  Develop a structure which helps you examine your life with an emphasis on your conduct with other people, situations, and how you treat yourself. 

6)    Ask yourself tough questions. Confront yourself honest.  Ask questions you have been avoiding.  What are your failures and your successes?

7)    Clarify Your Thoughts and Feelings.  Do you ever seem all jumbled up inside, unsure of what you want or feel? Taking a few minutes to jot down your thoughts and emotions (no editing!) will quickly get you in touch with your inner world.

Through this process you might just discover that your journal is an accepting, nonjudgmental friend.


Ullrich, Philip M., M.A.; Lutgendorf, Susan K. (2002). Journaling About Stressful Events: Effects of Cognitive Processing and Emotional Expression. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 24(3). 2002.


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