Journal prompts for self-reflection
All this quiet time to sit alone and be with our thoughts is one of the hidden blessings of social distancing. External distractions aside, it’s easier to tap into what our intuition wants to tell us. Journaling is one of the most effective forms of self-care, and we’re in the best time to amplify our self-discovery process. In fact, numerous studies show that journaling can reduce stress, improve your sleep patterns, and increase your I.Q,,. Our majestic brains keep memories, thoughts, and feelings tucked away until you’re ready to greet them and process them. The act of writing things down can help you solidify your intentions and make plans for the things you need to change in life.
Below, we put together five journal prompts for self-reflection. In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, we included quotes from Black writers, intellectuals, and freedom-fighters to get your creative juices flowing about the future we’re trying to build together.
“Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety.” - James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name
Ask yourself: How do I welcome change? Do I welcome change as a necessary part of growth? Or do I resist it because I prefer to be comfortable? What am I afraid to lose in the process of changing and growing into my best self? Change can happen in my physical space — a new haircut, more plants for the apartment, or a more comfortable pair of socks. But change also happens in the mental, emotional, and spiritual realms. Which of these changes feel easy, effortless and timely? And which of these changes require more patience, trust and acceptance of the world around me?
“in the moment, i was not ready to feel the feeling, my skin too firm, my faith too solid. when the future all seemed ahead of me, it was easier to fold an emotion into me and believe it was gone, or at least silenced.” - adrienne maree brown, “a time traveling emotion”
Ask yourself: Am I ready to unfold difficult emotions? What needs to change within my own environment to make me feel safe enough to unfold these emotions? Why wasn’t I ready to face this emotion in the moment? I recognize the strength that it takes to store an unprocessed emotion, to let something dark live inside of me without letting it take over completely. I also recognize the strength it takes to revisit that emotion and make peace with it. When have I let my pride get in the way of facing and voicing my true emotions?
“In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction.” - Audre Lorde, Black Women Writers at Work
Ask yourself: When/Why do I struggle to accept differences? Activist and educator J.Love Calderon often asks, “Do you want to be right? Or do you want to be free?” When have I let my pride get in the way of an insightful conversation? Have I stubbornly held onto old beliefs because I was too concerned about being right? Difference is a marker for growth. When a plant grows, I marvel at the small differences I can spot on a daily basis. In the same way, my growth happens little by little, allowing difference to push me in the right direction. How will I work to celebrate difference?
“Healing begins where the wound is made.” - Alice Walker, The Way Forward is with a Broken Heart
Ask yourself: How do I define healing? What am I willing to release in order to heal? What simple, healing tasks can I commit to on a daily basis? Going for a walk, journaling, and expressing gratitude can act as emotional Neosporin for deep wounds. I am willing to look deep into my old wounds. Hurt people hurt people, and I commit to healing myself so that I can send healing energy to others around me. What can I learn about myself from investigating my trauma?
“Men simply copied the realities of their hearts when they built prison. They simply extended into objective reality what was already a subjective reality. Only jailers believe in jail.” - Richard Wright, The Outsider
Ask yourself: What is my relationship to punishment? Do I believe that I deserve to be punished? Do I believe that pain and suffering are necessary in life? Small forms of punishment are normalized. Suffering with an uncomfortable bra because I can’t afford a new one, or taking my pent up frustration out on an unsuspecting server or delivery person, to name a few examples. Why do we feel the need to punish ourselves? How does that affect the way that we see others?
- Murray, Bridget. “Writing to Heal.” Monitor. June 2002. https://www.apa.org/monitor/jun02/writing. Accessed July 27th, 2020.
- Tams, Lisa. “Journaling to reduce stress.” Michigan State University Extension. May 1, 2013. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/journaling_to_reduce_stress. Accessed July 27th, 2020.
- Scullin, Michael K et al. “The effects of bedtime writing on difficulty falling asleep: A polysomnographic study comparing to-do lists and completed activity lists.” Journal of experimental psychology. General 147,1 (2018): 139-146. doi:10.1037/xge0000374. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29058942/. Accessed July 27th, 2020
AUTHOR: Leo Aquino (they/them) is a storyteller living in Los Angeles. They love reading books on the beach and eating Filipino food.