My journey with journaling started 5 years ago. I experienced some life changes, and with these changes, I found myself feeling often lost, sad, lonely, misunderstood, with an inability to properly process and understand my emotions. I struggled to find comfort in others to talk about the things that weighed so heavily on me, so I kept it to myself. With all of this compounded, it resulted in me regularly feeling overwhelmed and emotionally burnt-out.
As the days went by, I started taking inspiration from some upcoming poets of Instagram that I had grown fond of through their vulnerability and relatability. Feeling inspired and emotionally charged, I decided to carry out the simplest yet one of the most revolutionary tasks that one can do: picking up a pen and writing my thoughts and emotions. I have not stopped writing since, and I am so grateful to my past self for picking up that pen.
I often look back and reflect on my growth, using the journals as a rough indicator, and I am proud of the woman that I am becoming.
Through journaling, I have been able to monitor my growth over the years and connect the dots between certain happenings in my life. It is all worth something and everything in our lives has a purpose. This purpose is also accompanied by wisdom. With that being said, nothing in the universe is random.
Everything happens in divine timing.
I have kept all my journals, and sometimes I honestly cringe at the lack of substance of some of my earliest entries. But that is what growth looks like; you surpass the comfort zone, expand your mind and your understanding. Although I restrain myself from reading what I wrote years ago as it makes me squirm, I always gently remind myself that in that exact moment, writing felt like the right thing to do. That is one of the beautiful things about writing, you write for yourself and it provides you with a chance to just be, and there is no pressure to perform. Writing is what you make of it.
Offloading & freeing
I quickly realised that I found comfort and ease in offloading everything that was taking up so much mental and emotional space. By freeing up such valuable space, I was able to focus on developing a more productive mindset of gratitude, of love. Just the physical act of writing it all out felt like I was emptying my spirit of unproductive and sometimes harrowing recurrent thoughts. As I let the ink flow on the paper, the negative and self-destructive thoughts started to dissipate. Since the very first day, writing always has been highly therapeutic for me, since day one. It’s like telling everything to a friend who will not judge nor dismiss you and will patiently listen to all what you have to say. I am grateful now that I have such people present in my life alhamdulilah, but that was not always the case. There were some days where my journal entries were covered in rushed messy writing, symbolic of my mental state in that particular moment.
Addressing my vulnerability
Journaling allowed me to address the core of the negative thought patterns and emotions by providing a subjective view of them on paper and confronting them head-on. By often reflecting on my vulnerability, I also developed self-awareness which manifested into love and appreciation, not only for myself but also for others. It made me realise that just because people don’t show or voice their thoughts and emotions often, it does not mean they are not struggling. It sounds obvious, but we are so quick to forget the silent sufferings of others. Islam teaches us to be a relief to those around us.
Through the process of listening to myself, I have become a better listener and in the grand scheme of things, the relationship we develop with others are manifestations of the relationship that we with have with ourselves. Everyone has a vulnerable side, and along with empathy, these are some of the things that make humans remarkable. Rather than hiding or avoiding them, they be embraced unapologetically. It forms a concrete common ground between one another and allows for raw human connection.
Discovered my inner world/inner dialogue
Journaling results me leaving no stone unturned, no recurrent thought untouched. So now, whenever I open up to people and tell them of thoughts occupying my heart and mind, chances are that I have already had an internal discussion about it numerous times with myself.
I write whenever I have an idea, thought, emotion, goal, or manifestation. In other words: all the time. I carry my notebook everywhere, since creative and insightful thoughts surface my conscious mind at random parts of the day in unexpected environments; on the tube, in the park, waiting for a friend, brewing my tea. Humans have an innate intelligence and wisdom, and writing is one way of tapping into it. By tapping into our higher selves, the more we are aligned with our true self and the closer we are to how Allah created and ordained for us to live.
Clarity – richer and deeper thoughts
Journaling allows me to tap into my core and no longer scratch the surface of things. This manifested in my personal relationships with others, where I found myself searching for depth, for the metaphysical i.e. wanting to get the core of the person. There is so much more to a person than just the surface.
I also developed a clearer perspective by viewing thoughts subjectively once they were on paper. Writing creates a separation between your mind and your thoughts. You are not your thoughts, but you use them, and we need to learn to use them for our benefit rather than against ourselves.
I have been able to monitor and keep track of thoughts and emotions that were not conducive for my growth and required some gentle tweaking, whilst also becoming aware of what I was doing right, continuing it and also encouraging it when I saw such positive behaviours in others.
My eloquence of expression has developed and refined
It goes without saying that everything requires patience and persistence. By sifting through my thoughts on a regular basis, I have noticed that my speech and expression have become more concise. The way I form sentences, and ideas to map out my mind have improved my expression and my ability to be understood.
It is therapy;
I doubt whether all of these things would have been achieved had it not been for my journaling journey which has become such a key part of my daily routine. It is therapy; a friend and I always tell everyone about it. If you have been journaling for some time, this article may resonate well with you. If you have not tried journaling in the past, then I hope my words have encouraged you to start.
Selma Maloumi is a recent graduate in MSc Medicinal Natural Products and Phytochemistry at UCL. She shares knowledge on all aspects of health, as it is multifaceted, encompassing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. She aims to connect the dots between Islam and Science and has hosted seminars titled “Consciousness: A Muslim Perspective.” On her newly established Instagram blog, Selma also shares her journey with natural living and rediscovering the source.