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How to use your diary for personal growth instead of self pity

By Edited Jun 16, 2015 1 2

If you are like most women, you started the habit of writing a diary during puberty.

Next to the 'Friendsbooks' came those little pastel and glittery notebooks with a padlock, for your eyes only, fully scribbled with confessions about boys you liked, mistakes you made, how much your parents sucked and that really nobody in the whole world understood you... That, and a lot of doodles, drawings and hearts in the sidelines of course! 

Writing all these overwhelming emotions down was probably a healthy and age-appropriate thing to do when you were 15, but ten years later it doesn't add anything to your life. However, lots of women carry on with this habit of diary-writing they established in their teenage years. They fill an endless amount of pages with complaints about others, insecurities about looks and relationships, while silently waiting and dreaming for their lives to change...

Writing in your diary can be a powerful tool for self-reflection and self-improvement. But for that to happen, you have to let go of the self-pitying tone of your earlier writings. If you wish to make your writing work for you, focus less on 'Who did What to Me' and turn inside to investigate your own feelings, beliefs, dreams and hopes instead.

Of course you're still allowed to write about your pain, it's important to express your feelings, to be able to stop the conversation in your own head. 

But stop complaining about others for pages, please. It only makes you a victim. Going on and on about all the bad sides of someone you feel jealous of isn't gonna help you. Finding out what's missing in your own life, that causes you to be jealous or miserable, is the first step to heal yourself from that particular pain.

 

Gratitude and Succes Diaries

How can diary-writing actually make your life better?

5 tips to get the maximum out of your diary.

  1. Make writing a habit, also on the good days! If you re-read your diaries of years ago and it's all agony and pain, while you were having a pretty normal life back then, it tells you something about your focus. What you give attention to, grows and gets more important. So don't forget to write a lot about the good things in your life.
  2. Focus on gratitude for what you do have, and acknowledge it. Your friendships, your health, your pets, the wonderful diner you cooked, the movie that made you laugh, this is what spices up your life! I write down at least 5 things I'm grateful for, every night for the last 2,5 years and it makes a lot of difference...
  3. If you have one of these lousy days that you really can't think of anything to be grateful for, just be very, very grateful that this day is over and you get a fresh start tomorrow! Write down why today was so hard, how you struggled and that you made it through the day anyway. Don't forget to be proud of yourself...
  4. Write down your successes. Which emotions or situations did you handle well, what did you accomplish today? Celebrate your accomplishments! Each night I write down at least 5 successes too, apart from the things I'm grateful for. Sometimes a situation appears on both lists. At the start I really needed to think, to 'invent' things worth celebrating, such as 'I finally sorted out the papers at my desk', 'I cooked a real good meal', 'I took care of myself by taking some me-time on the beach this afternoon', 'I read a book about finances', 'I got a new client', and so on. But I got used to give myself the credits for what I did do, instead of slapping myself in the face for all the things still on my to do list, and I can tell you, this feels so much better!
  5. Give yourself a treat and get a nice diary! It feels so much better to write in a beautiful booklet... This doesn't have to cost a lot of money; for years I 'pimped' my cheap black diaries with some nice butterfly- or flower-stickers. (You see, the teenage girl inside me is still alive and kicking ;-) even in my forties...). But I have to admit that a gift from my best friend, years ago, got me addicted to the journals of 'Paperblanks', which is a bit pricier than the sticker-option...
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Comments

Jan 5, 2013 8:36am
hmommers
I loved this article, Klaartje! I haven't been much of a diary-writer, except on holidays. But in May 2012 I started to write down daily what I am grateful for, just like you do (although I am not counting, maybe I should do that as well). It really is a great way to feel more content about myself!
Thanks.
Jan 5, 2013 12:51pm
Klaartje_Loose
Thanks for reading and responding, Hannie.
You know what's really soothing? To read back on your gratitude and successes of the past months after a bad day!
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