7 Powerful Reasons To Go Back & Read Your Old Journals, Even When It Hurts

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woman reading journal on the couch
Self

Have you ever read your old journal entries?

A few months back, I started asking people whether they've ever read their journals. To my surprise, except for the writers, very few people said they ever read as much as a full page.

Fewer still read through one or more of their journals.

I have to confess that I only began reading mine very recently and I started them 40 years ago! I was surprised and, at times, delighted by what I found.

Therefore, I'd like to suggest that all you, non-professional journal writers, do the same. No matter the intention or life led, there's still good cause for a review. 

After all, there are a lot of healing and inspiring benefits to keeping a journal: from problem-solving to emotional regulation and even sparking creativity.

But recently I've found that these benefits can be amplified by re-reading some of your old journals. 

RELATED: Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, And Mark Twain All Kept Daily Journals — You Should, Too

Here are 7 reasons why you should read your old journal entries.

1. Recall

Journals are a treasure trove of information on people, places, and events.

Recently, I discovered the date I had my appendectomy in Monrovia, Liberia. I can't count the number of doctors who requested that date over the past 30 years.

I no longer have to fudge it. Plus, I have many fascinating pages on that experience alone.

2. Pure curiosity

Our impressions of our past selves are not always completely accurate.

Journals offer you an opportunity to peak into your past and right the record.

3. Gain insights on yourself and befriend the past you 

Writing is an excellent way to explore ideas and experiences as well as self-soothe.

In the future, this material illuminates the process of personal growth, sources of current behaviors and beliefs, and allows your young and current self to enter into dialogue.

4. Explore unfulfilled yearnings

I was surprised to read about interests and aspirations I'd forgotten about yet fulfilled.

I also noticed those that I've vaguely sensed for years, but never clarified, explored, or acted upon.

RELATED: Why You Should Keep A Daily Journal

5. Material to write about

Many writers use their journal entries to shape publishable stories. You can do it, too.

6. Lessons to share with others

Reading through my journals, I recognized many lessons unfolding from page to page or journal to journal.

I can now share them through stories, autobiographically or with some creative license.

7. Family legacy

Parents don't often realize their children want to know about their parents as children and young adults. As they age, they tend to take a greater interest in their ancestors as well.  

To pass on your family history, you can choose to extract stories or simply share your journals.

Your intentions for writing make the content.

People keep personal journals for a lot of different reasons. Therefore, those reasons or intentions will most definitely affect the content.

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For example, if you wrote for solace, your journal will likely be filled with emotional content. You might also find considerable repetition during those times your emotional resilience was low.

On the other hand, your journal content will be richer if your writing was dedicated to self-discovery, personal or spiritual growth, or colorful depictions of life events.

The point is, what can extract from your journals depends on why you wrote them in the first place.

In essence, you won't find creative prose from which you can mold publishable short stories in some fancy magazine if you mostly wept or ranted through the pages.

A caution for those with difficult pasts

If your journals refer to traumatic events or other disturbing or triggering content, you'll want to make sure that you've processed this before digging into the memories again.

In addition, be mindful of how the content is affecting your mental and emotional well-being and seek help if you need it.

I started reviewing my journals because I was curious. But, in time and through the pages, I discovered all of these seven reasons. I'm not through yet, so maybe there'll be more come.

Whatever your reason is, dig in. I think you'll find plenty of rewards.

RELATED: 7 Journal Prompts To Move From Self-Discovery To Self-Transformation

Patricia Bonnard, PhD, ACC leadership coach, spiritual life coach, and energy healer. She blends conventional coaching, embodied practices, and energy healing to best suit the needs and preferences of her clients. She offers virtual and in-person sessions and personal development workshops. See more and contact her at Starchaser Integrated Coaching and Energy Healing.

This article was originally published at starchaser-healingarts.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.