How to Start a Journal for Self-Reflection + Three Prompts

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Inside: How to start a journal for self-reflection, working through issues and connecting to your innermost thoughts and wisdom. Here are three journaling prompts to get you started now.

Do you ever feel like you need a quiet space in this incredible noisy world? With all of the chatter and chaos around us, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious. It’s also easy to fall into the comparison trap.

Over the years and especially as I’m now in midlife, I’ve found that keeping a journal is a powerful tool for empowerment and growth. Writing things out helps me to sort through problems, worries, and also the million thoughts and ideas I have constantly running through my mind.

My mind is so very, very busy. Often with nonsense.

But still, the nonsense must be worked through so I can get to the good stuff, like good ideas, resolutions, and emotions. And my Inner Critic has a strong voice, too. So, I journal. I journal to work through all those thoughts and feelings and to override the Inner Critic.

Starting a journal will help you focus on what’s really important. You. The real, authentic, uncensored, you.

What is the Best Format to Start a Journal?

Whatever you want it to be.

You can buy a journal or a blank notebook. You can write on post-its or loose paper if you want. You can use journal prompts or just write what is on your heart. It’s really up to you.

If you haven’t kept a journal before, it might feel weird. Your Inner Critic is going to be there, judging everything you write. In fact, she’ll be judging your thoughts and trying to censor them before you can even get them on paper.

Try to let that go. Just write whatever comes to mind without judgment. No one will be reading this unless you let them. So be candid and be honest. Don’t worry about punctuation and spelling. Just write.

What Do I Write About in My Journal?

Nothing can be more intimidating than a blank journal page. It’s as if looking at the blank page results in your minder literally going blank. I get it.

But if you can relax and start writing whatever comes into your head for about 10 or 15 minutes, soon you’ll find thoughts and ideas flowing freely.

It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t necessarily make sense. It’s about getting into the writing flow.

Many, many people will even write “I don’t know what to write about,” or “I can’t think of anything to say,” to get started. By simply starting with something, it helps to get the reluctance out of your head and clearing the way for your thoughts to start flowing.

how to start a journal for self-reflection

Using Journal Prompts to Get Started

Some prefer to use journal prompts to get ideas flowing when they write. You can find endless prompts online. You can also buy journals with prompts. Or you can list out our own journal prompts based on what’s going on in your life before you start writing. It just helps to have a sentence or a question to help get you going.

If you’re looking to start a journal for self-reflection but feel stuck, here are three quick journal prompts to get the creative juices flowing.

Three Journal Prompts for Self-Reflection

What Feels Good in Life Right Now?

Journaling about good things in your life helps to reframe your attention on all of the positive things surrounding you. Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck on negatives. But when you stop to focus on all that is good, it really does wonders for your perspective.

What makes you laugh? Or smile? What brings you peace? Or joy?

It can be as big as the memories of your last vacation or as small as the birds singing outside your window.

Start with a list of the things that make you feel good and see where that takes you.

Make a List of Your Good Qualities

I think a lot of us tend to focus on the things we want to improve about ourselves. And self-improvement is great. But if you’re stuck in your journaling session and don’t know what to write, try making a list of all your good qualities.

Start with at least 10. What makes you unique? What is something that people always compliment you on? What are your gifts? Talents? Skills?

Do you make people laugh? Do people feel at ease around you? Are you kind? Funny? Smart?

Do people come to you for comfort or advice?

Make a list that you can come back to for a smile when you need one.

Talk With Your Older Self

This is a fun one. Pretend you are older, wiser and more experienced than you are now. Imagine you as someone who has lived a long life with good times and bad and had a lot of advice to give. Ask your future self for suggestions on how to create the life you love.

What should you be doing? How should you be living? What steps should you be taking? What things should you let go of?

You might be surprised at what comes up for you.

Make Time for Your Journal Practice

It sounds cheesy, but it really is a practice. Try to set aside time consistently for journaling. One of the hardest things I’ve struggled with is consistency. What’s worked for me has been either getting up an extra 20 minutes earlier. That way I can get it done before everyone is up and the chaos of the day begins.

For you, it might be your lunch break. Or at night when everyone is in bed. You might have to experiment with different times of day. Or you might just fit it in whenever you can.

Whenever you can fit it in, you’ll find that journaling for self-reflection is quite therapeutic. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of journaling, you may like this post.

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