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Why Journaling Is So Hard

Updated: Aug 24


It’s okay to not love to journal - if you need permission, there it is!


In a world full of journals for every issue on the planet, it can feel like we’re “expected” to journal so we can improve our mood, food intake, water drinking, and all the things we need to do to be “healthy”. And expectations often lead to more pressure to be all the things we’re not, and maybe even don’t need.


Sure, journaling can be a very good thing and increases the likelihood of change. Sometimes, a mind-shift change is just what we need to change pressure into the intention.


So, here’s your mind-shift change:


Think of journaling as research.

The definition of a journal is literally a daily account. There are a few people in the world who love to write down their everyday lives and thoughts, but they’re few and far between. Most of us don’t have the energy or time, and certainly don’t have the mental space. That’s okay.


Shift your mindset to journaling as research. Trying to change your brain habits like negative thoughts or anxious feelings? Writing down what comes in your mind helps to make your brain aware of what you’re thinking, instead of those thoughts being automatic. Essentially, the journal becomes research into how your brain works, and then creates intentional change because you’re aware of what is actually happening up there.


Ditch the electronics. Write, with your hand, a pen or a pencil.

There are some amazing apps out there for journaling, but here’s the thing: writing actually forces you to use the right and left sides of your brain. By writing, you are actually using way more brain power to create change than typing on your phone or on a computer.


Research requires problem solving, creativity, finding words, and then translating those thoughts into writing something intelligible. By actually writing down your thoughts, you fire up so many more neurons than just using an app or typing on your computer.


Set an intention, not an expectation.

Change takes intention, but there’s a lot of wiggle room in the intention. You have likely proclaimed loudly to yourself, “I will journal every single morning”. This is a great intention, but this is building a new habit, which takes time. When you don’t journal “every single morning”, your big FAIL button gets pushed in your brain, negative thoughts start reminding you about what you can’t do, and you stop trying because what’s the point?


Setting an intention allows you to shift the mindset from “I will” to “I’m going to try”. By doing this, you are giving you’re relieving your brain of the pressure of perfection and providing your brain with the power of intention.


Intention setting looks something like this:

  • Write in your planner to “research” three times during the week. Pick your best time of day and put it in your calendar.

  • Have a prompt ready. Prompts keep you from feeling overwhelmed with what to write or consider, and jumpstart your brain into action.

  • Think of it as brainstorming, not a perfect book ready to be published. Research is often starting with an idea in mind and then finding out something else entirely different. Follow your brain and your thoughts - not what you think it needs to say or not say.

  • Take it with you to your coach or counselor. Having someone debrief your journal with you is incredibly valuable time spent.

Researching how your brain is working, what it’s saying and automatic actions WILL prove you with a start on your journey to change the way your brain works, creating space for an intentional and authentic life.





Mattie is a counselor, coach, and CEO of Cerebrations, LLC. With over 25 years of experience in understanding how the brain affects our emotions, reactions, and our experiences, she is passionate about empowering women to harness the power of their brain and body connection to create intentional action and deeper connections with their families. You can reach her at mattie@cerebrations.org or by scheduling a free consult chat.