By Patricia Gonzalez
During a difficult season in my younger years, I became obsessed with journaling. I found solace in the pages of my multi-colored journal, recounting the events of my days…analyzing my emotions and my decisions..and self-talking myself into recovery. I also used it to pray, writing letters to God about my heart’s deepest longings and desires–ending each entry with a hopeful “amen.”
It was as though something in my life did not happen if it wasn’t written down. I tried my best to document each idea, each emotion, each prayer–not because I was afraid I would forget something, but more so because I was afraid I would miss an opportunity for growth and learning.
Since I became a busy working professional (and now mother) however, journaling has fallen low on my priority list. Time for myself has become a luxury, and every free moment after a whole day at the office either goes to my children or catching up on much needed sleep. Who has the time or energy to journal, seriously?
But every time I see my tattered journal gathering dust on the shelf, there’s something about it that calls to me…begging me to open it and rediscover its wonder. Moreover, many of the self-help books I’ve been reading have emphasized journaling as one of every successful person’s secret to success, giving me even more reason to get into the habit again. And based on my personal experience and reading, I would bet that journaling is every great mom’s secret to success as well.
Why? For several reasons.
Journaling is a harmless and very private way to “let it all out.” Mom life is emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting. Numerous things happen in our days that can trigger negative feelings–even ones we never thought we would ever be capable of feeling. Let’s be honest. Aren’t there some things that you feel about motherhood that you would never even trust with your closest confidant or spouse? I know I do. This is exactly why journaling gives you an incredibly safe space just to be honest with yourself. This isn’t about self-justification. It is about accepting reality, and using it to grow in self-knowledge and self-mastery.
Journaling has the ability to help us process that happens to us. It allows us to reflect and recount events in our brains so that we can clearly articulate them on paper. As a result, writing about these events enables us to see everything in retrospect, pulling ourselves out of the situation so that we can more objectively evaluate them. In this way, it is also a great tool for self-evaluation and self awareness. Questions with these themes can be treated as journaling prompts. Moms can ask themselves “what were the victories of my day? What were my failures? How can I be better tomorrow?”
Journaling is also a great tool for self-talk and self-motivation. Studies reveal that individuals who practice positive personal affirmations have higher levels of self-confidence and become more likely to achieve their goals. Repetition is key to belief. The more times you are able to write your goals down and tell yourself you will achieve them, the more likely they will come true. All this for the purpose of becoming not just better moms and wives, but as better women who are able to make a difference in the world.
Journaling is a great tool for prayer. Anyone who prays often knows that sometimes our prayers get mixed up with our thoughts. During times of stress, I honestly sometimes cannot tell the difference between my prayers and my anxieties. Writing down our prayers as though they are letters to our Lord gives us the peace of mind that 1) we have prayed about our troubles. 2) our Lord has heard our prayers (this is always a matter of faith, of course) and we are one step closer to getting not necessarily what we want, but what we need. .
And lastly, I like to end my journals with a list of learnings and action points. I find this to be the best way for me to to summarize my thoughts, and remind myself that if I am not happy about something, that I can (and need) to do something about it.
Life goes by so quickly mamas! I’m sure you understand that, as you witness your babies grow into walking and talking full-fledged human beings. Let’s aspire to live each day well…embracing our different roles and striving to give nothing but the best of ourselves to each of them. Journaling may just be the step you need to take to bringing you closer to the kind of mom you aspire to be.
Patricia Gonzalez is MOMCENTER’s Editor. She has two adorable daughters–ages 1 and 2, and is married to a man who inspires her to be a better woman everyday.
She is a woman on a mission, and believes that motherhood is not limiting, but empowering. Join her on her journey by following her on instagram at @patriciaogonzalez.