I picked up the habit of journaling during a very dark period of my life. I wrote on the very first page “Robin Sharma said that the only way to overcome pain is to face it. So here I am, ready to face it”. Over the years, journaling became my safe haven, a space I could be alone with my thoughts and feelings without judgement from the outside world. Journaling also paved the way to the most important element of my life, reflecting on myself.
The reason for the need for self-reflection is simple. We’re imperfect human beings who inevitably make mistakes now and then. Journaling allows introspection that can propagate self-understanding. Here are 10 journal prompts for better self-reflection!
- What do you love about yourself?
Let’s start with the basics. We tend to journal a lot about our bad experiences or how much we feel inadequate or at least I did. While it helped me express myself better, it also made me unconsciously focus on everything negative about myself. Let it be the way I look, my inability to do something, or how I have failed miserably at something. Instead, let’s take the opposing perspective to look at everything you absolutely love about yourself. For instance, you love the fact that you can sing along to all of Taylor Swift’s songs or the best pancakes you’ve ever tasted are the ones you made last Friday.
- How did you celebrate yourself today?
Your body and mind are working tirelessly to accomplish everything that you want. In return, how have you shown your appreciation towards them? It can be anything from drinking enough water to 20 minutes of mindful yoga. Or this can be also viewed from the perspective of actual celebration like bringing yourself out on a spontaneous date for cupcakes or the movies. This would be a great place for you to write about how you can celebrate yourself more in the future by doing things that you find joy in.
- What have you recently discovered about yourself?
The person you know most about in this world, yourself, can surprise you sometimes. With the good and the bad. And these surprises and recently made discoveries about yourself are vital to further deepen your self-understanding. For instance, I recently realised I’ve been using avoidance coping mechanisms for the last few years of my life that has caused a lot of friction between me and the people that I dearly love. This discovery and reflecting on it through journaling has led me to work on myself to be a better version of myself.
What have you recently discovered about yourself? Where did it stem from and why does it mean to you in the journey of knowing yourself better?
- What are your little things for the day?
My concept of little things is not something new to write about. You can find more elaborate explanations of the concept here. But in short, it is the tiny, mundane, and often simple things that we overlook in our daily lives but deserve our utmost attention and appreciation. It can be anything from having your favourite coffee in the morning to watching a sunset. So, write about your little things of the day that most people might miss rushing through their daily lives.
- Is there anything you’re currently taking for granted?
Usually, we realise we take things for granted a little too late when the damage is done and you can’t undo things. Think about one situation or one person that you might be taking for granted right now and try to understand why you’re doing that. Maybe come up with a plan to how you want to show them that you appreciate and cherish them and how you can avoid repeating the same behaviour in the future.
- What is the story you have been telling yourself lately?
Therapist Lori Gottlieb in her Ted Talk explains a very major misconception we have about life. We think that only the circumstances and the situation we have been in creates the story we tell ourselves when the truth is the exact opposite. The story we tell ourselves also has a major influence on our circumstances and situations too. At moments of despair and struggles, our perspectives tend to be narrowed down to the worst possibilities. And these worst possibilities have an impact on what we feel, think, and how we behave.
What is the story that you have been telling yourself that has been trapping you in a jail that is non-existent? What is the story you have been telling yourself that is stopping you from growing as a person?
- What do you want to forgive yourself for?
Every day, no matter how hard you try to get it right, there will always be moments when we will fall short when we will mess things up. Explore one of those moments that you still struggle to forgive yourself for. Mine is when I thought I was protecting myself by letting someone walk away from me. As much as this decision of my carried so much regret and pain, after so much journaling and self-reflection, I understood that we are all trying our best to make the best decisions with what we have at that point.
- What are the hard conversations that you have been avoiding with yourself or someone else?
Avoiding hard conversations and confrontations in the name of keeping the peace is not only a form of avoidance coping but is also a trauma response. When you do this, you are allowing yourself to be disrespected and take up less space in the name of pleasing someone else. Sometimes, we will need to have hard conversations with ourselves too, and need to be called out for our own behaviours. So think of a hard conversation you’ve been putting off and ease your way into it. Maybe write down why you might feel the compulsion to behave this way and how you can constructively have this conversation with the other party.
- If you are feeling overwhelmed and anxious, what do you need from yourself?
Life is sometimes a big bundle of uncertainties one after another. While the best part of life is to live through it and end in places you never thought you would, the same can be a major source of anxiety and worry or even stress. It is in a way inevitable. But exploring these questions can equip you with your own knowledge of how to be there for yourself when moments as these come up instead of being dependent on others. While having a positive circle helps, no one can always be there for us all the time. It’s best we figure out all the ways to be independent even during our lowest moments.
- What is your toxic trait?
While we go about our lives constantly throwing around the word ‘toxic people’, the truth is we all have been the person who exhibited toxic traits in someone else’s lives. The best version of ourselves is not the ideal version that has no flaws but the version that is aware of it all and is constantly working to be a better person. Write down what is your toxic traits and the importance of them being addressed. Explore what steps you can take to grow as a person.
Self-reflection is a vital journey, not an end destination. These questions have helped me ponder on who I am and what I need in life that has led me to more awareness about my own myself and I hope they do the same to you.
Jananie Chandrarao is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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