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  • Writer's pictureAlice

Journaling and Diary Writing Are a Direct Way to your Unconscious Mind

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Learn to recognise what moves you through therapeutic writing.

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Image from CANVA

One of the gifts I received when I did my confirmation was a writing set consisting of a diary with a key and padlock accompanied by a plastic feather pen with ink included.


Everything came in a box with a transparent front cover that showed the inside. I remember being fascinated by this gift.


My mother told me that from that moment on I could write down everything that was in my mind. I remember looking at the set with a mixture of curiosity and impatience to start using it. A feeling that continues to accompany me, even to this day, every time I am in front of a notebook with blank pages.


I started writing almost immediately. With desire. Without caring about the spelling, or structures, or if I had good handwriting. At eight years old, all I wanted to do was to write to release everything that was accumulated in my head and immortalise those thoughts forever. I was aware that my hard drive would run out of space over time and that the information would also deteriorate little by little, as happens with photographs. Writing was the only way to perpetuate the most important memories.


Little did I know at that moment that one day this activity would become my escape valve, my best means of communication when I had no one to talk to, my therapy, and, above all, the direct path to my unconscious.


The advantages of having started writing my thoughts so young have been many, but until recently I have not been able to see them as such.


Therefore, in this post today I want to talk to you about all the benefits of accessing your unconscious mind through writing and why today more than ever this is an activity that you should begin to integrate regularly into your daily life.


Girl writing a diary in the cemetery
Elena Gilbert from Vampire Diaries writing her diary

Let's go.


DO YOU WRITE OR NOT?


To begin with, I would like you to answer the question of why do you or don't write.


After making a list of your reasons; either mentally or in writing (you know what I am going to recommend you), you will be aware of things that would not have even crossed your mind if you had not stopped to think about these two questions.


If you are one of those people who write diaries or maintain some type of system to keep track of your mental processes, you have probably been creating self-awareness for some time without realising it, and that is why, for you, this is an activity that you take for granted, and that it is not difficult for you to carry out.


If you are one of those who doesn't write, the question is: don't you do it because you don't have time or because you don't like it?


Of course, we are talking about writing for pure pleasure, since we normally write out of necessity: to take notes if you are studying or for your work.


When searching for scientific references and examples to illustrate why some people do not write and what happens when we do not write on a regular basis, I have found a large information gap in both the Spanish and English searches. This does not mean that this material does not exist, what it means is that it has been very difficult for me to find adequate information.


So throughout this entry, I will define what happens in our minds when we do not write through the advantages that the act of writing has on us. But above all, what I am most interested in highlighting here today is how this activity gives you direct access to very valuable information you will only find buried in your unconscious mind.


WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT YOU TO WRITE DAILY


In the article When Your Unconscious Mind Talks to You in the Bookshop, I explain that when C.G. Jung broke up with his friend and mentor Sigmund Freud in 1913, he began his own process of introspection and self-knowledge by writing a diary that would later become the famous Red Book and which would become a tool of extraordinary value for future Jungian scholars and also, in my opinion, for those who have immersed themselves in psychology in general.


As Jung himself said, for him this was the most important time of his life, since from these notes in his diary he was able to develop his entire archetypal theory, his theory on individuation, the collective unconscious, and many other concepts that make of analytical psychology such a rich and powerful tool and source of information.


For those of us who grew up writing, drawing and documenting our dreams, analytical psychology invites us to a very powerful internal exercise, which aims to balance both those aspects that we consider positive and those that we consider negative, in what is called "integration."


But what does this need to capture all our thoughts say about us? When you are little, you are simply interested in writing about the fun moments that have happened to you, phrases that have been said that have caught your attention, or not forgetting a conversation that is important to you.


But as you get older, your diary becomes your confidant. There you write down everything that you cannot tell anyone because you are embarrassed, or because you consider that your words could offend someone.


You may also write about the pain you have felt due to a loss or a very intense emotional experience. In this case, writing has a cathartic function that helps us embrace and accept our pain, making grief more bearable.


As we get older, the diary becomes that instrument where you leave all your frustration and even write fictitious dialogues with those people who you feel have a pending conversation with. In these cases, writing is a way to close doors and achieve inner peace, even if the other person will never hear or read those words.


And it is in these different processes that we discover something new about ourselves that we did not know before and that with the exercise of writing, we have had to stop and listen.


We write in a journal to become and to know who we are, not to tell what we already know. The audience is internal. The matter is soul.

Murray Stein in Writing Towards Wholeness. Lessons inspired by C.G. Jung by Susan M. Tiberghien


There are several ways to use writing as a source of information about what is worrying you at a given time and what aspects you consider you need to solve. What is important is that you know that daily writing suggests that you are a person with a great disposition and desire to solve what worries you or anguishes you at all times.


It also means that you are aware that writing helps you in your transition processes by helping you to integrate parts of yourself that perhaps until now have remained hidden or hidden from your conscious mind.


TAKE DISTANCE TO DEAL WITH YOUR PROBLEMS


Just as happens when you write an essay and let it rest so you can edit it later, when you write a diary or are writing down your thoughts, you are bringing out what you have inside of you. It is a kind of mental birth, sometimes painful but necessary.


That's why it's important to let those thoughts rest and come back to them later, after a few days or even after a few months have passed. That way you can distance yourself from the problem that worries you most. This is because between the time of writing and reading your text again, your thoughts will have had the chance to mature. That is, you will be able to take that much-needed distance so that you can then begin to work with the content of the text, connect ideas and find explanations.


Analysing your writings in a more objective way is what will begin to give you inner peace.


It is what Dr. Rafael Salas Muriel describes as a change in perspective of our feelings and emotions that happens when we see ourselves "from the outside" in his webpage.


Keep in mind that writing a personal journal, a daily gratitude list, shadow work, or a dream journal is not the same. Each of these types of writing works a part of your internal narrative. They are all important and they all help you to work on a different aspect.


However, the type of writing that I want to talk to you about next is expressive writing, since it is the most similar to the adolescent diary writing that I told you about previously.


BENEFITS OF EXPRESSIVE WRITING


As I told you a few lines above, there are several types of writing, but for the topic at hand today, I want to talk to you about what the benefits some studies tell us about expressive writing, that is, writing in which we talk about stressful or traumatic events in our lives. This writing turns out to be as powerful as going to therapy since its beneficial effects are not only demonstrated on a mental level but also on a physical level. In fact, this writing is so beneficial that there are retreats in which sick people, suffering from diseases such as cancer, complement their treatments with therapeutic writing.


In the article Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing by Karen A. Baikie and Kay Wilhem, published online by Cambridge University Press, we are told about ten benefits of expressive writing at a health level and six at a social and behavioral level.


Among the most obvious benefits to patients' health are fewer stressful visits to doctors, improvement in the immune system, reduction in their blood pressure, improvement in organs such as lungs or liver, therefore a reduction in their doctor visits and therefore a positive emotional impact as well as a reduction in depressive symptoms.


Regarding the benefits at a social and behavioral level, we find less impact on work life, which gives stability to the person, improvements in memory, desire to communicate with others and undertake social and sports activities, academic improvements in students and even improvements in oral expression in general, an extremely important aspect, since better oral expression favors more effective communication.


Although these are characteristics of the benefits of expressive writing, many of these aspects can also be applied to what happens in our body and mind when we write, for example, what we dreamt about the night before.


Writing down our dreams helps us later analyse the messages that our unconscious gives us, especially the messages from our nightmares. What many people don't know is that dreams offer us archetypal images of what traumatises us, worries us, or represses us.


That's why I think it's very important to combine documenting both; what worries us about our interactions with others during the day in an expressive journal, and what we dream about at night in a dream journal.


Both analyses are complementary and give us the balance that we are looking for. Let's not forget that we still live in a society in which we continue to leave aside all the valuable information that appears in our dreams.


I think that in the not-too-distant future, we will begin to give more importance to everything that appears in our dreams. If you think about it, we spend half our lives dreaming, so it is very important to listen more carefully to what happens not only during our sleep time but also what happens just before we go to sleep and just before we get up.


Examples of the importance that dreams have had historically and the effects they have on us during the day can be very well exemplified in Gothic literature and also in Horror films.


Ask Freddie if you don't believe me


I talk to you about the connection between what happens in the different moments of the sleeping process and Gothic literature in one of my videos:



FINDING THE TIME TO KNOW YOURSELF BETTER


We all fight against the god Chronos, time, and also against procrastination which usually arises as a result of the resistance that our brain puts up when something is difficult for us to face and that we know will give us extra work. In this resistance, we also find important information that we should not overlook.


There was a moment in my life as an English teacher, when all I could do was hear my students complain about the lack of time to do homework, watch series in English, read in English, and a long list of other activities that they could easily include in their day by day without too much effort and that if they had had the right motivation they would have found very useful. But like everything that is done out of obligation, if the need is not felt, or the call is not strong enough to undertake something, we find all the possible excuses not to do something, even if that something will benefit us.


If you are interested in knowing more about this topic, don't miss my article Does everything in your life make you happy? from issue 15 of my magazine, You Are Gothic But You Don't Know IT.


At the end of the day, when we are really looking for answers regarding the dynamics that are happening in those dark moments in our lives, we need to love ourselves a little more and prioritise healthy mental exercises that, although they require time, in the long run, will help us and will benefit us immensely. We will actually stop losing your precious Chronos. In other words, we will stop looking for compensatory activities that are not really aligned with what is happening inside us and we will focus on what is most important.


My technique is to write down my dreams in the morning before anything else happens in my life. If you don't remember your dreams, it's ok. You can also record a voice message to yourself, but it is not the same, since therapeutically, it is more beneficial to take the time to write the words by hand. There is a whole scientific explanation behind this.


As for my expressive writing work, I do this when I have been mulling over a recurring thought that has been oppressing me for a long time. As these tend to be thoughts that resist and need time, I leave them for the weekend, mainly on Sunday, which is when I have the time to connect with myself more deeply while sitting on the patio of my house.


At night before going to sleep, I combine reading with writing in my shadow diary, which I will tell you more about in another article.


As I have already told you, there are many types of diaries and/or keeping track of different thoughts to be able to treat your worries in a therapeutic way.


If you really want to start raising awareness and see changes in whatever worries you most right now and you don't know how to get to the bottom of the matter, just think that many of the answers are within you. You just need to know how to get to the core of your psyche, and what better way than to write for yourself, engaging in an open, honest and unfiltered conversation?


Now you just have to decide if you really want to embark on this inner journey or if you prefer to continue treading on dangerous water without really knowing what is blocking you.


FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Never underestimate the power of childhood gifts.

  • The reasons you journal or don't journal say a lot about your mental processes.

  • Writing daily not only brings clarity to your thoughts in your darkest moments, but in the long run this information is a very valuable treasure for you and others.

  • Taking distance from your writing helps you see your mental processes objectively, without ties, so you can see clear solutions and patterns.

  • Expressive writing can help you not only solve mental blocks but also improve your physical health and social relationships.

  • It is important to find the right time to write.

  • If you are really curious to know more, you will find the most appropriate time to carry out this activity.


Thanks for reading!


Until next entry


Alice


 

BIBLIOGRAPHY







Would you like to know more about the benefits of therapeutic writing? Book your first free call with me and tell me what you would like to solve:

 

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