Many people from all walks of life derive benefit from regularly writing down their thoughts in a journal or diary. Day and night, thoughts are constantly running around in your head, so taking the time to write your thoughts and feeling down can be an important way to get past the "noise" and understand what's really going on internally. Journaling can be especially helpful in recovery from addiction.
Cravings for a drug or behavior can be very anxiety-producing and create feelings of urgency. Your mind and body becomes obsessed with having a "fix" NOW, to the point that it gets hard to think about something else.
The best way to fight against this urgency and feeling of speeding up is to slow down. Stop moving, take a breath, and pause. Making journal writing a part of your daily routine is an excellent way to build habits of stopping and taking an introspective beat before acting.
By developing self-awareness and learning what your triggers, vulnerabilities, and ways of coping are, you can be better equipped to live the best life possible in your sobriety.
Often, in the heat of the moment, we may not be able to totally perceive all of what is going around us, or the factors that cause us to act the way we do. Journaling allows us to revisit our experiences, thoughts, and feelings of the day, thinking about what happened to us.
Are you pleased with your actions, or is there a way you could have acted better? Is there any way you found yourself acting with character, courage, or joyfulness that you want to repeat? What happened in the day that was good, or that you want to be grateful for?
Answers to these important questions can easily get lost if we simply go through life on autopilot. Taking the time to write them down brings them to our awareness, so that they impact our behavior.
Write only for yourself. It is nothing that will be read, critiqued, or graded by anyone else. Practice turning off the judgmental side of your brain, and simply write what you feel. Nothing you think or feel is wrong, because it comes from what you are thinking or feeling.
Addiction is rooted in self-deception, habits of suppressing, hiding, and denying your thoughts and feelings. For that reason, an important part of recovery is learning to embrace and understand your own inner thoughts.
Sometimes, the words may be hard to come by. You may struggle with having any idea what to say, or you may find yourself judging and second guessing every word in your mind. If you find this to be the case, simply write without too much thought or judgement.
In The Artist's' Way, Julia Cameron suggests starting the day out with 750 words of just "dumping." Dumping is simply writing down the first thing that comes into your head, even "I don't know what to write next." Simply write down all your thoughts without censorship, fixing spelling or grammar, or any filter.
This exercise can free you up to start journalling in a way that can help you process through your day. Your journal doesn't have to be restricted to words. Photographs, drawings, collages, or lists of songs that affect your mood, can all help you jumpstart your inner dialogue and get at your deeper inner truths.
Your journal should be for you alone, simply an honest and direct snapshot of your inner dialogue at a particular moment. However, they can be kept and read at a future date. Reading your journals months or years can help you appreciate the ways you are growing. Challenges that seemed insurmountable one day get conquered, and reading back to realize that truth can empower you to face more challenges in your future.