Journaling | Ep #18

You may have heard that journaling can be a healing process, but there are benefits you may never have thought about.

In addition to being a healing tool to our physical bodies, journaling is proven to be an emotional regulator and healer as well.

In this episode, I will share how impactful journaling has been for me, how to journal, and why I encourage you to make it a part of your daily practice.

Episode Transcript

I’m Andrea Giles, and you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast,
episode number 18, Journaling.

Hello, and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity podcast where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become
the boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves
ever. If you know there’s more for you than the life you’re currently
living, but don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place.
Stick around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks
off. Is it possible? It is, and I’m here to show you how. I’m your host,
Andrea Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.

Hi, friends. Welcome back to the show. I am sure glad that you’re here, and
I’m going to go ahead and dive in. It is the week of Thanksgiving here in
the United States. I know many of my listeners do not live in the United
States, but here, this is a holiday week, and so I’m going to record this.
It might be a little bit shorter than usual, but I want to share something
with you that I think will be useful to you. It’s about journaling.

So I have always been a fairly consistent journaler. Like many of us, I’ll
go for a while, do really well, and then I’ll have times where I’m not. But
I recently was going through some boxes from my childhood, and I found a
journal from when I was eight, and it’s really funny to read. And then I
wrote a lot in my teenage years so I have stacks of journals. I have quite
a few. Early, young adulthood, early marriage, being a mom, all of that. So
I have quite a few journals and I’m really grateful that I have them.

Now, it’s a little bit cringy to read some of my journals from middle
school, for example, where they’re all about boys pretty much. I mean,
let’s be honest, even in high school and even in college, lots of stuff
about boys. I was kind of boy crazy. But I also wrote a lot about my faith,
about my belief, about spiritual experiences I had, and it’s nice to go
back and to read and to remember where I was at different times of my life.
I’m grateful that I have those things.

But today, I know probably most of you have heard about journaling and how
important it is and things like that. Today I want to talk about some
things that maybe you haven’t considered that have been very, very helpful
and even crucial for me. So hear me out, okay? So over time, my journal has
evolved. It has become a witness to my life. I was here, I mattered, my
experiences mattered, my experiences were real, and I’m going to get a
little more specific with that later. But first, let’s talk about the
actual psychology of journaling.

Mina Murray says, “Journaling is whispering to oneself and listening at the
same time.” I love that and that very much has been my experience. You’re
writing it down, getting it out of your brain, and then you can see it on
paper and it is a shift. It looks different on paper than it does in your
brain, and then it’s like you can learn from yourself at the same time.

So five scientific facts about journaling, I found these from, are that number one, journaling reduces
stress. Journaling can be a form of meditation. I love thinking about it in
that way. You’re slowing your brain down, you’re slowing to get what’s in
your head down on paper. Your breathing. Did you know that journaling can
reduce your blood pressure and improve your liver function? Isn’t that
cool? Studies showed that people who journaled for at least 15 minutes a
day over a four month period had better numbers in tests that they took for
blood pressure, stress levels, things like that.

Number two, it improves your immune function. So when you think about it,
slowing down and bringing down blood pressure and bringing down your stress
levels allows your body to heal like it’s supposed to, so it makes sense
that it would improve your immune function. Journaling is also proven to
help wounded people, like physically wounded people heal faster. I also
think it helps emotionally wounded people to heal faster, and I’ll talk
about that in a minute.

Number three, it helps with memory function by boosting memory and
comprehension skills. Makes sense, right? What we write down, we remember
better. So getting it out of our head and onto paper helps us remember
things better. So we’re going to have this reference point to go, “Oh yeah,
that thing, I remember that.” And it’ll help bring some of those memories
to life that we otherwise might have forgotten. Comprehension, as well.

Number four, it boosts your mood and your overall sense of wellbeing and

Number five, strengthens emotional functions, becoming more in tune with
your inner needs and desires. It’s a way to get to know yourself better. It
allows emotional catharsis and being present in the moment. You are
present, you’re doing something, you’re using multiple senses, you’re
writing on paper, you are feeling the pen in your hand. You are slowing
down enough to write, right? Writing is much slower than thinking. Our
thoughts are so fast, right? Writing forces you to slow down. You’re
slowing down. It’s helping your brain regulate emotions. It’s creating this
space to push the pause button before reacting to circumstances. It’s
creating space for you.

So as you’ve heard on this podcast, and something that I help my clients
with all the time is that when we’ve gone through an emotionally
challenging situation, many of us kind of hang out in this fight or flight
space. We’re highly reactive, highly on edge, just kind of waiting for the
other shoe to drop. So often, what happens is that we don’t respond in a
way that we want to. It’s kind of like we’re on guard and so we sense any
kind of danger, and out come the claws, out comes the reaction. And what
journaling can do is it can create that little bit of space between your
thought, your feeling, and your reaction.

I personally have found this true so many times. Something will happen with
one of my kids and I’ll just be so bugged, so annoyed, and I’ll want to
respond in a certain way. And sometimes if I can give myself a little time
out and go get out my notebook and I’ll just write it down. This is what
happened, and then write down my feelings about it. And even writing it, I
can feel a shift and I can even hear my wiser self going, “No, that’s not
quite how it happened. Mm, are you sure you want to handle it that way?”
I’m giving myself a pause and space to think before I react, to think from
my higher brain and who I actually want to be. Okay?

So that number five about strengthening emotional functions is a thing that
I want to focus on the most. There are many, many studies about how
journaling helps people who are recovering from trauma and emotional
upheaval. Journaling allows you to see things through a different lens. One
thing that has helped me is that I can go back for years and I’ve been able
to spot thought patterns that are reoccurring over time. It’s like I can
put that lens on of looking for thoughts that maybe are wreaking havoc for
me, and I can find that they go way back. They go way back. One thought
pattern that I have seen since long time, a long time, is I tend to be
really hard on myself. I tend to have a real negative Nelly, you did it
wrong, you’re going to mess it up type thing that pops up sometimes. And
I’ve done a lot of work around it, and so it’s gotten much, much better,
but I can spot that that pattern has been there for a long time. What’s
helpful about that is then I can see, oh gosh, that’s not real. It’s just a
thought pattern. It’s been there all these years so no wonder it doesn’t
die off easy, right? I’ve had to do work. It’s taken me work to change it,
but I can easily spot it because of my journaling.

Another thing that has been absolutely crucial for me is this. Okay? When I
was going through divorce, a friend gave me this suggestion that I write
down my insights and my personal revelations to me. Now, you might call it
something else. I call it personal revelation. It’s like when I am just
going about my day and it’s like a light bulb goes on and I get information
that just pops into my head. Or when I am praying and I feel some kind of
thought come in. I had a lot of these kinds of moments when I was deciding
if I was going to get divorced or not, and this friend said, write them
down in my journal. I have a tab in my journal that’s called Personal
Revelation. It’s the name of my tab. And I, to this day, love going back
and reading that because although at the time it was just this really
difficult time, I can go back and go, “I know what I know.”

And even when I was… For example, how many of you have had an experience
that you think you will never forget, that will never lose its weight of
how important it was for you? And even the next day, it’s like, “Wait a
minute. Am I sure that happened? Did it really go that way? Am I still sure
that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing?” I struggled with that. I
remember really struggling with, “Should I just go ahead and patch my
family back up and have him come back and are you sure?” I just questioned
myself so much.

And so I could go back to those personal revelations when I knew even if I
couldn’t feel that in the moment, I could go back to when I did and learn
from myself and get strength from myself. Isn’t that awesome? Learning from
my own wisdom when I needed that reminder. And so to this day, I still do
that. I write things down. I go back and remember, like, “That’s right. I
forgot about that. That was really, really important.” And I’m so grateful
that I have that. So like I said, some of you might call it personal
revelation. Some of you might call it just inspiration. Call it what you
will. But I believe that we all are wise, wise beings, like the essence of
who we really are, that we have access to so much wisdom and truth and
light and inspiration that we all have access to that.

And I encourage you to write down, when you have those glimpses of who you
are and what you’re capable of, write it down. When you have glimpses of
your future and the kind of life that you’re going to have, that you are
going to go through some hard things for… Hard things meaning being able
to be be bold and have tough conversations and those things. Write it down.
Write it down, and you’ll be able to go back and thank yourself for it

Another thing that I have in my journal is a grateful tab. I have a tab
that reminds my brain of what I do have rather than what I don’t. And I go
in there and I write down the things that I’m grateful for. And you know
what? There’s some days that I don’t want to. I’m like, “No, really, not
feeling it.” And then I slow down and I think, and I write it down. And the
amazing thing is that my brain shifts to actually looking for the things
that I’m going to write. So I go throughout my day going, “Oh, I should
write about that. No, I should write about that,” because I just feel so
abundantly blessed. And I love that I have this place in my journal to
write those things down. It helps me just kind of shift my focus. It’s not
minimizing your pain. It’s not sugarcoating your pain. It’s just kind of
reminding your brain not all is lost. There’s still a lot of good here. I
can keep moving forward.

So like I said before, there’s a lot of studies about how writing and
journaling can be a form of meditation and a form of trauma healing. And
there actually have been books written about this. There’s a book by James
Pennebaker and John Evans. It’s called Expressive Writing: Words That Heal.
I encourage you to go grab that book. It asks lots of great questions. I
own it. Lots of great questions to go in and really look inside and answer
questions that will help you to expand, to grow, to see things a little bit
differently. And when done over time, this becomes very healing and it
becomes a habit that you want to keep doing.

Another thing that I love about journaling is using journaling to be really
intentional about future events. I’m going to give you a couple examples,
okay? Just last week I taught a webinar. So it was like a class online, and
quite a few people had registered for it and I was a little bit nervous and
I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to go. And so before I got on the
call, I got my pen and notebook and I wrote down, as if it was done, how I
would know that it was a win.

And it was very internal, not external. Meaning it wasn’t a win because
this many people said, “You did a great job. I learned so much from you.”
No, it was a win because I decided my criteria of what would make it a win
that were not externally based. So did I show up? Did I smile? Was I kind?
Was I loving? Was I enthusiastic? Did I challenge them? Did I show up as a
leader, as an expert? Those are the questions that I can be in control of.
And so I got off that and I could say to myself, “Yeah, I won that.” The
way that I wrote it was as if it was done. “So I just led this call. It was
great. This is how I showed up. This is how I led the call. This is…” And
I just talked about it as if it was done.

Another example recently is from my son. I have a son who’s 22, and he had
a conversation coming up with some people he cares about that he knew would
be really difficult, and he was pretty afraid of it. And so I helped him. I
took him through a process where he journaled and wrote down how it would
be a win for him no matter what the outcome. And for him, his win was that
he not get defensive. No matter what the other people dished out, that he
was not going to be defensive. And if he could walk away from that
conversation knowing that he did not get defensive, then it was a win. And
guess what? He did it. He called me later and it was a tough conversation.
It was hard. And he won that conversation for himself because he decided
that his win was not being defensive.

So we can be very intentional in our journaling. We can start the day by
deciding how our day’s going to go. “When this happens, I’m going to do
this.” Anticipating things ahead of time. “When I feel tempted to… I
will…” Right? So this is a very powerful practice. It’s one that I love,
and that has been so helpful to me and so helpful to my clients of getting
clear beforehand.

One more example, I think I maybe have mentioned this before, but I have
clients that have meetings. Like some of my clients who, if their spouse
left them, for example, left a marriage or if they’ve decided to end the
marriage, they have mediations, they have court hearings, things like that.
And so this is something that I use journaling for with my clients, is
having them journal before the event happens, how it’s going to go for

Now, we can’t ever journal about… We can’t control other people, but the
best way we can control other people if we could, is by showing up at our
best, showing up very intentionally. This is how it’s going to go. This is
how I’m going to show up. That is the best way we can control outcomes is
by being the best versions of ourselves because other people around us have
no choice but to butt up against that. It puts heat on, it puts pressure on
to level up. And so getting really intentional yourself with how you want
to be in certain situations is very, very powerful. So again, when done
over time, journaling can become quite a healing practice. It can become a
time where you check in with yourself, where you slow down, where you see
where you’re at and what you need.

As far as journaling prompts go, you can ask yourself questions, what do I
need most right now? That’s one that I love. If I could think anything,
what would I think? If I could create whatever life I want, what would I
create? Just asking yourself good questions. You can even go online and
look for journaling prompts, questions about your past. There’s lots of
great prompts online. Just go Google it, journaling prompts, and there’s so
many. Sometimes writing personal history, writing down your experiences,
sometimes we can draw a blank, right? So you can go look for questions
like, “When is the first time that you…” Whatever, right? Dot, dot, dot.
Writing it down. So you can use the resources online and you know what?
Your brain is fabulous, and you can come up with good questions yourself.

I personally love the one, “What do I need most right now?” Because it’s
like opening the door to be kind and compassionate to myself and hearing
myself. Sometimes it’s, “I really need a nap.” Sometimes it’s, “I really
need to believe that…” and I’ll know what I need to believe in. Sometimes
it’s, “I know that I need to set down this belief,” or, “I need to give
more time to my kids so I can feel more connected. I need to feel more
connected with my kids.” Sometimes it’s, “I need to feel connected to my
husband. I need time outside.” Whatever it is, but you’re slowing down your
brain long enough to get those answers and then hopefully going and acting
on them, right?

Okay, that’s all for today. I encourage you, right away, go get a journal.
If you don’t have one, go get one. If you have one, use it. It doesn’t need
to be fancy. I have plenty that are three-ring notebooks, not fancy at all.
The point is to use it, to get out of your head and onto paper, and taking
that time for yourself. You matter. Your life matters. Your time on this
earth matters, and go be a witness of your own life in your journal. I hope
that you all have a wonderful weekend, and I will see you next time. Thank
you. Bye-bye.

Thank you for listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast. If you would
like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast
episodes, and other ways of working with me, go subscribe to my weekly
email. You can subscribe at Again,
it’s I will see you next time.

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Hi. I’m Andrea Giles and I am so glad you are here.

Not many years back I found myself in a life I didn’t recognize, feeling confused, sad, and so small. My “forever” marriage was in shambles, and I didn’t know if I could ever trust my own judgment again.  Through my faith and some great tools, I was able to completely change my life and find myself again. Now it is my mission to help others who are right where I was. Click the button below to read more about my story.

Why was I not enough?

Does this question torment you? It did me too until I learned that the actions of my spouse had nothing to do with me, my worth, or my lovability. Click on the link below for a free guide that will teach you the 3 biggest lies about infidelity and why they are keeping you stuck.

Hi. I’m Andrea Giles and I am so glad you are here.

Not many years back I found myself in a life I didn’t recognize, feeling confused, sad, and so small. My “forever” marriage was in shambles, and I didn’t know if I could ever trust my own judgment again.  Through my faith and some great tools, I was able to completely change my life and find myself again. Now it is my mission to help others who are right where I was. Click the button below to read more about my story.