The most important thing to do when journaling is to be completely honest. Sometimes we think we’re being honest, but we’re really not telling 100% of the truth. I catch myself writing white lies every now and then when journaling. It’s not that I’m trying to be dishonest, but sometimes we want things to go a certain way or we have an underlying fear of admitting something. This comes out in our writing as lies, or denial of the truth.
One way that helps me tell the complete truth all the way through a journal entry is by writing that entry to God. I call this “prayer journaling.” I start with: “Dear God…” God, or the higher power, whatever you feel comfortable referring to, always knows the truth. He knows us more than we know ourselves because He sees through the lies that we tell ourselves. So if we journal to God — we can look at this as writing down our prayers — we are often more likely to tell the truth. We can lie to God, but this defeats the purpose of journaling.
We can lie to ourselves too when journaling, which would also defeat the purpose of this excellent and cathartic therapy. But we don’t always realize we’re lying to ourselves because that might be our reality as we’re seeing it. “Lying” when journaling is okay and quite normal. It’s human nature to want to avoid the truth because sometimes it can be scary, especially when processing trauma or other emotional events. But we need to be honest in order to progress during recovery, and to advance with our personal transformation and spiritual growth.
I find that when I start a journal entry with “Dear God,” I’m more easily able to detect when I begin to tell my white lies. A contracting energy immediately builds in my core then travels to my hand holding the pen and stops me from writing the lie. I know God knows the truth, so there’s no point to write a fabrication or a creative spin to this reality I’m trying to process. Sometimes I need to take a moment before continuing with the journal entry because I need to breathe and face the truth. I need to decide what the truth is sometimes and sit with it before I admit it in writing. In our daily lives, we often find little ways to skip away from the truth, so when the truth finds us in journaling, we need to take a second to recognize that it is in fact the truth.
These don’t always need to be life-changing or traumatic truths. They could be seemingly smaller things, like realizing our true feelings for someone, or our real feelings about a situation. Maybe we were avoiding the fact that someone really hurt us, but when we write “Dear God,” our true feelings finally surface. Maybe we’ll find when writing that we’re in love with someone, but our denial caused our daily actions to let us believe otherwise. Maybe we’re falling out of love with our partner and are fearful of admitting it, but our written prayer in our journal helps us realize our true feelings. God already knew anyway, so we might as well admit it when we’re writing our journal entry to Him.
It’s important to realize that both prayer and journaling are sacred practices that create sacred space — separately and together. Given the safe nature of both of these practices, we need to accept that it’s okay to be honest. Yes, someone can read your journal, but you can also get a lock, hide it or ask who you’re living with to be respectful of your sacred and private practice. God does not judge us. We should learn from God to not judge ourselves. Don’t judge yourself when journaling. If you catch yourself judging yourself when journaling, start your journal entries with “Dear God.” You might find that this creates more of a sacred space, free of judgment.
I highly encourage you to give prayer journaling a try. Many find that writing to God is extremely helpful, and have documented how such a practice has been helpful for them, like Janet Conner has so beautifully done in her book, Writing Down Your Soul: How to Activate and Listen to the Extraordinary Voice Within. Please feel free to share in comments on this blog how this journaling tool is useful for you. Many blessings to you during your transformational journey!