Why It Might Be Time to Put Away Your Journal

Journals are the last bastion of self-discovery and personal insight. With social media becoming more prevalent, we have seen a sharp decline in the number of people jotting down their thoughts on paper.

“Starting a journal” is an activity that many people do. It can be good for your mental health, but it might be time to put away your journal. Read more in detail here: starting a journal.

When I was ten years old, I received my first diary. 

My postings were brief summaries of my day. Because I was ten, the postings mostly consisted of what I ate for lunch and whatever Super Nintendo game I was playing at the time. I’d also write about my neighborhood mates and me going on stream excursions, as well as details about my favorite baseball player, Frank Thomas. 

I’d sometimes provide simple soliloquies on different topics. I composed an encomium to dads in general and my father in particular on Father’s Day in 1992. But since I couldn’t spell (and still can’t; ask Kate, who proofreads my work), it turned into a laudation of all the world’s great farters. 

In high school, I continued to keep a diary. In that teenage kind of manner when you simply spew words and it seems profound but isn’t, my writings started to grow deeper and more existential. However, I also wrote about my high school crushes and my ambitions to play varsity football. Things from high school, you know. 

In college, journaling became increasingly important in my life. I was making a slew of life-altering choices, as do many young people at my age: What should I major in? Should I pursue a legal degree? When should I propose to Kate? 

I utilized my notebook as a sounding board for weighing the advantages and disadvantages, as well as the emotions that followed those major choices. 

I used my college notebook to lament the monotony of my emerging adult life, in addition to wrestling with those life-altering decisions. I’d use postings to moan about managing job and school, convey my financial worries, or just gripe about how exhausted I was.

Using your notebook as a self-improvement tool was another something I learned in college. I’d make entries to record my objectives and strategies for achieving them. I generally had to write notes chastising myself since I hadn’t made much progress toward my objectives after a few months. 

Throughout law school, I continued to journal on a regular basis. My journal writings at the time were mostly about being worried about final examinations and whether or not I’d obtain the job I desired after graduation. Because I began AoM at this time, my diary entries focused on my project’s aims and aspirations, as well as disappointments that things weren’t progressing as anticipated. I also began to write a lot about how peevish and moody I was, as well as how upset I was with myself for being so peevish and gloomy. From then on, this became a reoccurring theme in my journaling.

The frequent journaling continued after law school. I’d write brief notes on what I accomplished that day, and other days I’d unload with numerous pages of laments about my fight with depression, or not being as ambitious/spiritual/motivated/productive/whatever I wanted to be. Those diatribes would come to a conclusion with written resolutions and action plans to do better. Every few months, the trend would repeat itself. 

 

I liked writing in my journal during this period. It felt lovely even as I used its pages to grumble. As if it were a psychic cleanse. After writing, I felt lighter. And every now and then, I’d receive some new ideas and clarity on how to tackle a problem I was having. 

But then, a few years ago, I noticed that I was writing in my diary less and less. I progressed from making fresh posts every day to every other day, every other week, and then every other month. I was bitten by the journaling bug.

Why Did I Stop Journaling?

Kate observed that I hadn’t journaled in a long time and inquired as to why. 

“I think I simply don’t feel compelled to do it anymore, and I don’t like it,” I said.

“However, why?” “How do you believe things have changed?” she enquired. 

That is an excellent question. 

I can think of three major factors that contributed to my decision to stop journaling:

I don’t have to make as many major choices as I used to. You have a lot of choices throughout your teens and twenties: where to go to college, who to date, what to major in, what career to take, and so on. You have to undertake a lot of self-discovery to figure out who you are. This process of “finding yourself” never stops, contrary to popular assumption, and I’ve always tried to remain devoted to the concept of reflection, reevaluation, development, and progress; I never want to rest on my laurels totally. Even yet, as you become older and more “settled,” you don’t have to make major choices as often as you did when you were younger; you shift from selecting and chasing to establishing and sustaining. Which, ideally, will be an entertaining exercise, but not one as laden with debate.

I’ve had less of a need to journal because I used to utilize it to assist me make significant decisions and now find myself needing to do so less often.

I improved my emotional control. When I read back over my diaries, I see that the most of my posts were about being stressed out, unhappy, or disappointed that I wasn’t as productive or driven as I wanted to be… or about being disappointed that I was disappointed. Over and over, I transcribed this loop. I reasoned that writing about my feelings would help me process them in a more rational and linear manner, enabling me to have a better understanding of them. On paper, the concept made a lot of sense.

Journaling, on the other hand, appeared to reinforce the cognitive processes that had led to those bad feelings, rather than helping me control them. It increased my rumination on my bad thoughts by writing them down; it re-grooved the neural route in my brain that conveyed those feelings, making me more inclined to go along it again. And writing things down “in stone,” in a “official” record, seemed to just serve to cement the notion that this was who I was – a pessimistic, melancholy person.

 

However, over the past half-decade or so, I’ve sought out and discovered better strategies to control my thoughts and emotions. Rather of seeing my unpleasant emotions and moods as foreign to me and issues to be solved, I just sit with them. I don’t pay attention to them and don’t write about them (which only amplifies them). I simply pay attention to them and know they’ll go away.

I now have acquaintances. My life in my twenties was absorbed with law school, AoM, and small children. I didn’t have time for a social life since I was so busy. I didn’t have time for pals since I was so busy. Kate was my lone confidante when I needed someone to chat to. But it became exhausting for both of us since I was always repeating the same life issues. As a result, I began to share my ideas with my only other friend. . . This is my diary. 

As our children became older and more independent, and work became less stressful, I found the time and need for sociability in my thirties, and made a serious effort to establish friends. Now that I’ve formed a few strong connections, I’ve discovered that I speak to my friends about a lot of the things I used to write in my journal: challenges, fears, and so on. Human friends are great because, unlike a diary, they respond to you. You’re not just ruminating in a bubble. Instead of passively supporting and implicitly accepting whatever story you present, they push back when you get into a dumb negative rut.

Just because I’ve stopped journaling doesn’t imply I believe my previous efforts were in vain; there were moments in my life when it was both beneficial and pleasurable. It hasn’t been like that recently. It also doesn’t mean I’m certain I’ll never journal again; it’s possible that it may become a beneficial practice in my life again in the future. 

I’ve always enjoyed the notion of journaling and continue to do so, but that doesn’t mean it’s suitable for me right now.

Something I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is that your habits will naturally evolve over time, and you should be open to that, regularly re-evaluating whether something that worked for you in the past is still working for you, and not sticking with something just because you think you should, or because it’s what you’ve always done; there may be new practices to explore that will suit your stage in life even better, and this applies not only to journaling, but to everything.

 

 

The “order of man journaling” is a term that has been used to describe the need for humans to keep records. However, in today’s society, it might be time for people to put away their journals and live life without them.

Related Tags

  • art of manliness bullet journal
  • keeping a bullet journal
  • journaling for men
  • journal prompts for self reliance
  • 31 journal prompts