Why Journaling as Therapy may not Work for Everyone


Writing a journal as a form of “self-help” is a common homework assignment given by therapists.  I am not in therapy, though I utilize self-help techniques to become a better person~a blissful person as this blog reminds me… However, writing as self-help has never been something I could do in any medium, although I have never tried with a typewriter and maybe that is the trick, who knows? When I type on a computer, I always search for a “theme” for my feelings which then translates into a thesis, which then leads to references to cite why I am having X emotions at Y time and why.  It becomes academic. It’s inevitable.

Worse is what transpires when I put pen to paper- or pencil or colored pencil or even crayon and yes, I have thought different writing instruments might supply different results. I end up analyzing the doodled mandalas I create attempting to find the secret meaning of that duck or anvil or what is that? Then I give up, move on to crayon or something else and some horrible haiku ensues that makes me question the artistic importance of haiku in the first place.  How can something so “choppy” be art? So I give up things like meter and rhyme or syllable count and just write with my marker or whatever new utensil I have found.

The rest was just a warm-up, I tell myself.  I then end up writing like a person with hypergraphia causing me to wonder if, indeed, I should be seeking mental health attention.  Then to my chagrin, I end up with some horrible Greek Tragedy of a past relationship that turns to a existential crisis with some major Freudian undertones that would make Freud himself blush.  This is rock bottom at this point, since life is apparently hopeless and tragic.  There is nothing left to do but grab a highlighter and some post-its and write self-affirmations like “it could be worse” “at least you don’t have cats” “whatever” “don’t put this on your mirror” “never do psychology on yourself again” “write only self-deprecating humor and/or academic pieces”…and so on.  Not quite self-affirmations, but it’s why writing as therapy doesn’t work for me.  But maybe I am just doing it wrong, where’s the typewriter….?

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