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Journaling- Not Always Helpful?


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#1 N2theBreach

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 18:33

An article in The Atlantic on a recent study indicates that not all forms of journaling are helpful following a divorce or separation. In fact, for those people who tend to ruminate, the expressive "dump it all on the page" form of journaling held them back. The study showed that people who were asked to simply record the day's activities, did the best. The researchers were puzzled, then realized that the dry, un-emotional writing of what was going on in the here-and-now helped people re-engage in life and move on. Interestingly, for people who were less ruminative, the three forms of journaling had no impact.

My take away--journaling is even more powerful than I thought it was, if we are intentional about how we journal. The article's title, "Study: Journaling After a Breakup Only Makes Things Worse," is misleading, because the dry, un-emotional, "daily log" form of journaling was indeed helpful.

#2 Dino Silone

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 22:32

An article in The Atlantic on a recent study indicates that not all forms of journaling are helpful following a divorce or separation. In fact, for those people who tend to ruminate, the expressive "dump it all on the page" form of journaling held them back. The study showed that people who were asked to simply record the day's activities, did the best. The researchers were puzzled, then realized that the dry, un-emotional writing of what was going on in the here-and-now helped people re-engage in life and move on. Interestingly, for people who were less ruminative, the three forms of journaling had no impact.

My take away--journaling is even more powerful than I thought it was, if we are intentional about how we journal. The article's title, "Study: Journaling After a Breakup Only Makes Things Worse," is misleading, because the dry, un-emotional, "daily log" form of journaling was indeed helpful.

It's pretty well known that writing something down helps you remember it. It's also well known that writing things down is a good way to focus thoughts - to take the random skyrocket trails that are our normal thought process and trim them down so that we follow a line.

This is great, sometimes, if we're trying to brainstorm a solution to a problem. It's not so great if what we're writing down is how horrible we feel, and then using the power of writing to build really strong, focused arguments to justify why we feel so horrible. What we're doing is reinforcing the learning of feeling horrible.

Another way to look at it is that, without writing it down, you have the negative thought or feeling once. When you write it, you have it again. And when you read it back, you have it one more time (at least). So your journaling habit caused you to have and dwell on that negative thought at least three times. That's a GREAT way to learn it very well!

One thing that helped me was to move from keeping my private journal locked up to keeping it on my desk, clearly labeled so that anyone could pick it up and look at it. At first, I felt really restricted - I no longer felt free to write down all those dark, private, self-indulgent thoughts. After a while, I realized that I was much happier. Go figure!

#3 Adventurer

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 10:55

Makes sense to me... I can journal daily events, and adventures fine, but its been almost a year since my Dad died, and I still can't write about it... just makes it too close. It would have killed me to try to write about it when it happened.


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#4 dickydotcom

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 13:18

About ten years ago there was an incident where I worked which caused me to be moved.
I believed it was very unfair, since at the time of the incident I was 500 miles away on holiday.
Anyway I dwelled on the unfairness of it all until I sought some stress counselling.
The advice was to write down my thoughts in a book and then have a symbolic burning of the book. (I am not a great one for writing down anything personal)
I had little faith in the idea but went along with it.

It was brilliant and enabled me to move on.
It wasn't so much the writing as the combination of writing and book burning that enabled me to put things behind me.

Dick D

#5 pelman

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 17:25

About ten years ago there was an incident where I worked which caused me to be moved.
I believed it was very unfair, since at the time of the incident I was 500 miles away on holiday.
Anyway I dwelled on the unfairness of it all until I sought some stress counselling.
The advice was to write down my thoughts in a book and then have a symbolic burning of the book. (I am not a great one for writing down anything personal)
I had little faith in the idea but went along with it.

It was brilliant and enabled me to move on.
It wasn't so much the writing as the combination of writing and book burning that enabled me to put things behind me.

Dick D

My wife and I did this a few years ago as well. We had written some answers to some very specific questions. We were then asked to burn the pages. It was a very cathartic experience for both of us.

Edited by pelman, 07 December 2012 - 17:26.


#6 Dino Silone

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 21:20

After I got out of the habit of psychological journaling, I switched to using the journal to write down story ideas, to record important events, and to brainstorm and problem-solve. It's become a much more useful activity than it once was...