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Shine: A Woman Of Purpose

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Your Purpose Journal

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Jeremiah 29:11 AMP

This section will introduce you to Your Purpose Journal, one of three pivotal tools used throughout this series called, living tools – so named because they “grow” with your experience and can be meaningful tools for personal research (i.e., tools for living). If you are keeping a Purpose Journal or similar daily memoir, you have already begun the work of defining pieces of your purpose puzzle, which can be used collectively to help you see the big picture – the why?

According Psych Central, journaling (or keeping letters or diaries) is an ancient tradition that dates back to at least 10th century Japan  [100]. In addition to psychological and emotional benefits, there is increasing evidence to support the notion that journaling has a positive impact on physical well-being [100].

As you learn and grow through seeking your purpose, it is a good idea to keep a journal of your experience. It does not need to be fancy, but you should make it your own. Do your best to write in your journal each day. Your daily objective is to record your thoughts and feelings; experiences and discoveries; questions that arise from new information; and everything that you learn during this process.

Try not to leave things out because you think they will not be important. A piece with no apparent links today, could be something you will need for a later puzzle. Maintaining a journal is also a great way to keep everything together. If you are a teacher or ministry leader, there are many learning opportunities you can derive from a well-kept journal; and you will save time using work you have already done, tailoring for your needs as necessary. You will be glad you have recorded these elements as you learn how to interpret them.

Nancy Linnin, who lectures on writing and health at the Canyon Ranch Resort and Spa in Tucson, Ariz says of journaling.  “I haven’t found one person who said it [journaling] didn’t help them… Journaling slows you down.  It’s a whole body experience.  When I journal, it’s not coming from my head, but it’s connected to something beyond my head.  It comes from the gut…” [101].

“According to the experts, how you write in your journal can have a significant effect on the benefits you’ll receive” [101].  Follow these guidelines when writing to heal you:

  • Write for yourself
  • Write about all the emotions associated with the event.
  • Set aside 30 minutes at a regular time for three or four days in a row when you won’t be disturbed.
  • Explore how the topic relates to other aspects of your life, such as your childhood and relationships.
  • Write continuously and don’t think about spelling or grammar.

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“The Health Benefits of Journaling” by Maud Purcell, LCSW, CEAP at Psych Central

Health Benefits

Contrary to popular belief, our forefathers (and mothers) did know a thing or two. There is increasing evidence to support the notion that journaling has a positive impact on physical well-being. University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker contends that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. Other research indicates that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Pennebaker believes that writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with them, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on your physical health.

I know what you’re thinking: “So writing a few sentences a day may keep me healthier longer, but so will eating lima beans! Why should I bother journaling when I’ve already got too much on my plate?” The following facts may convince you.

Scientific evidence supports that journaling provides other unexpected benefits. The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you. Begin journaling and begin experiencing these benefits:

  • Clarify your thoughts and feelings. Do you ever seem all jumbled up inside, unsure of what you want or feel? Taking a few minutes to jot down your thoughts and emotions (no editing!) will quickly get you in touch with your internal world.
  • Know yourself better. By writing routinely you will get to know what makes you feel happy and confident. You will also become clear about situations and people who are toxic for you — important information for your emotional well-being.
  • Reduce stress. Writing about anger, sadness and other painful emotions helps to release the intensity of these feelings. By doing so you will feel calmer and better able to stay in the present.
  • Solve problems more effectively. Typically we problem solve from a left-brained, analytical perspective. But sometimes the answer can only be found by engaging right-brained creativity and intuition. Writing unlocks these other capabilities, and affords the opportunity for unexpected solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.
  • Resolve disagreements with others. Writing about misunderstandings rather than stewing over them will help you to understand another’s point of view. And you just may come up with a sensible resolution to the conflict.

In addition to all of these wonderful benefits, keeping a journal allows you to track patterns, trends and improvement and growth over time. When current circumstances appear insurmountable, you will be able to look back on previous dilemmas that you have since resolved.

How To Begin

Your journaling will be most effective if you do it daily for about 20 minutes. Begin anywhere, and forget spelling and punctuation. Privacy is key if you are to write without censor. Write quickly, as this frees your brain from “shoulds” and other blocks to successful journaling. If it helps, pick a theme for the day, week or month (for example, peace of mind, confusion, change or anger). The most important rule of all is that there are no rules.

Through your writing you’ll discover that your journal is an all-accepting, nonjudgmental friend. And she may provide the cheapest therapy you will ever get. Best of luck on your journaling journey!

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Longer-term benefits of expressive writing

Health outcomes [102]

  • Fewer stress-related visits to the doctor

  • Improved immune system functioning

  • Reduced blood pressure

  • Improved lung function

  • Improved liver function

  • Fewer days in hospital

  • Improved mood/affect

  • Feeling of greater psychological well-being

  • Reduced depressive symptoms before examinations

  • Fewer post-traumatic intrusion and avoidance symptoms

Social and behavioural outcomes [102]

  • Reduced absenteeism from work

  • Quicker re-employment after job loss

  • Improved working memory

  • Improved sporting performance

  • Higher students’ grade point average

  • Altered social and linguistic behaviour

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Resource: The Center for Journal Therapy

According to Kathleen Adams, founder/director, the Center for Journal Therapy is a gathering place for those who know the power of writing for growth and healing. The Web site offers books, tapes, workshops and a resource center with information on journal therapy.

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ACTIVITY #1 – Creating Your Purpose Journal

Your First Journal Entry

For this activity, you will need your purpose journal. If you do not have the journal designed for this course, substitute a notebook or blog.

Use the following procedure to begin your purpose journal.

  1. Use the space provided in the Journal of Purpose to personalize your journal with your name and today’s date to commemorate this step in your journey.
  2. In a brief statement, write in your purpose journal what you think your purpose is, based on what you already know about yourself.
  3. After the above introduction, spend 20 to 30 minutes writing about your very deepest thoughts and feelings about the most inspiring experience of your entire life or an extremely important emotional issue that has affected you and your life [102]. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar or sentence structure. The only rule is that once you begin writing, you continue until the time is up.
  4. Answer the following questions about what you wrote or what inspired what you wrote in step 3 of this activity.
    1. What event(s) led to the experience that you wrote about?
    2. What event(s) followed the experience that you wrote about?
    3. Considering the experience that you wrote about, do you have the same feeling(s) about it now as those that you recall from when the event(s) took place?
    4. Considering the experience that you wrote about, how has it contributed to the person whom you are today, and how do you think this contribution relates to your God-given purpose?

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[100] Psych Central. The Health Benefits of Journaling. http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-health-benefits-of-journaling/000721

[101] Healthy Living Online. An Entry A Day: How Journaling Keeps You Healthy. http://www.healthylivingonline.org/health/journaling.html

[102] Baikie, Karen A. & Kay Wilhelm. Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing. http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/11/5/338.full

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