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I started journaling when I was in elementary school. I’ve written down my thoughts religiously ever since and it’s helped me cultivate an entirely different level of self-awareness in my relationship with myself.
Each time I write, I allow myself to open up to more depth. Journaling for self-discovery allows me to explore vulnerability in a safe space, find compassion for myself, and hold myself accountable without judgment.
I don’t force myself to journal every day. I journal when I have a moment to slow down. When my mind becomes an unsettled hum that needs to be calmed and understood. When I can feel an emotion that needs to be seen and processed. And when I struggle with life, I journal because it allows me to become a support system for myself.
People often don’t know where to begin with journaling. The vulnerability of it can be intimidating. But it is for you and you alone. A conversation with yourself and the openness to write whatever it is you need to write. Recount memories. Vent frustrations. Dive deeper.
When I don’t know where to start but know I need to journal, I rely on questions to help me put my thoughts and feelings on paper. Below are some of the journaling prompts for self-discovery that have helped me.
10 journal prompts for self-discovery
I offer you some questions and topics to help you dive deep into an exploration of yourself. Write in response to whatever questions feel necessary and skip any that don’t.
What do you find that people misunderstand about you? What do you wish they knew?
After a hard day, what do you do for yourself to bring joy and calm? Is it healthy? If not, what could you replace it with that is beneficial to you?
What does being vulnerable mean to you?
In what ways do you find that you neglect yourself? What can you do to honor yourself more? To love yourself more?
What is something you’ve been carrying with you out of comfort, fear, or habit? What steps can you take to start to set yourself free?
Write a letter to someone letting out all that you’ve been wanting to say. Hold nothing back. Release what hurts you into this letter. When you are done, burn the letter and pour rose water on the ashes. Let it go.
Imagine a younger version of yourself (a child, a teen, a twenty-something, etc.) who needed guidance or comfort but didn’t receive it. What did they need at the time that they didn’t have the words or understanding to request? What can you give to yourself in the present moment that wasn’t given to you then? Perhaps it was kindness, acceptance, direction, patience, unconditional love, forgiveness, or simply a safe place.
Picture your fear as a creature in your mind. What does it look like, feel like, sound like? Does it personify something resembling a monster? Or is it more like a scared child? What would you say to it?
Make a list of what you’re grateful for at this moment.
Lastly, free-write candidly, without judgment, about what has come up for you as a result of these prompts. Just let yourself write. Don’t overthink it. Let things flow until you no longer feel the need to explore it.
About our contributor
Emery Allen is a writer and florist working out of Cleveland, Ohio. She has self published multiple books of poetry and her writing has been shared across the world. She is passionate about connection, mindfulness, and self-reflection. Follow her on Instagram @byemeryallen.