How Stream of Consciousness Journaling Can Help You on Your Mental Wellness Journey

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Stream of Consciousness Journaling Benefits Your Personal Mental Wellness Journey

Have you ever heard someone say that there are three sides to every story, 'yours, mine, and the truth'? When it comes to analyzing the way that we think, and the way that we view ourselves, our story is the only one that matters when it comes to our personal growth.

The way that we break down and understand our experiences is wholly subjective, and we don't always interpret, or internalize, our truths in a judicious way. This can cause misunderstandings, confusion, shame, and blame. These are the thoughts that haunt you. These are the obsessive and abusive thoughts that we can't seem to get rid of, about situations that we cannot change.  

At the suggestion of therapists and researchers, many people have turned to stream of consciousness writing, or journaling, as a start to the process of organizing their thoughts, fleshing out their beliefs, defining their identities, and learning how to more appropriately react to change in the future. The cognitive benefits of journaling are numerous and can be essential for positive mental wellness. 

What Is Stream of Consciousness Writing?

Stream of conscious journaling begins by sitting down at your computer, or in front of a pen and paper, and writing every thought that comes to mind, as they come to mind, even if they are half thoughts, run-on-statements, or ludicrous ideas. Our thoughts move pretty fast, and we don't think chronologically. 

The trick is to keep writing without thinking deeply about a specific subject. Open your mind and let the words flow to your hand and onto the page. Just write while following a few rules to help you along:
  • Ignore any issues related to syntax and grammar.
  • Ignore the rules of punctuation, spelling, and structure. 
  • Ideas, theories, memories, etc. will be disjointed, because that is how we think.
  • No self-editing and no judgment.
  • Don't pay attention to the repetition of ideas, suspected misstatements, or correcting any perceived mistakes.
  • Don't stop. Constantly move forward on the page, never go back while you are consciously writing. 
Journaling in a stream of conscious way allows you to identify how your mind works, so that you can use the information to gain some clarity in the way you see the world. You can really get to know who you are. If you view this as a tangible practice towards self realization, the cognitive benefits are immeasurable.

Cognitive Benefits of Stream of Consciousness

Stream of consciousness is a productive way to use your inner monologue to work through your problems and decrease destructive thoughts. The document that you create will probably jump from one subject to another, sometimes with no connection whatsoever (free association). The goal is to search for your truth, whether it's emotional or psychological, and use the information on the page to get to know ourselves on a deeper level.

  • Identifying your vulnerabilities and emotions
  • Make decisions intentionally and stand by them confidently
  • Live in a clear and balanced reality
  • Release some dependencies
  • Strengthen your intuition
It's normal for us to jump from subject to subject seamlessly in our minds, but if we stop to think about what we are writing, we will lose the truth somewhere and neglect other thoughts that could be helpful to our personal growth as an individual.

Much like exercising, the most difficult part is actually getting up to do it. Where do we start? How do you begin a stream of conscious journal?

A Journaling Journey

Stream of consciousness journaling isn't meant to be edited. You didn't create it for publishing and usually not for sharing. The act of writing gets all of these thoughts out of your mind and body while allowing them to live somewhere else, i.e. on the page. Subconsciously, you still have access to those thoughts, but there is no reason for them to haunt you in your conscious mind because, in writing about them, you are working them out.

To begin, ask yourself a broad, perhaps existential, question, such as 'what is my purpose?' or 'where am I going?'. Then begin to write. It doesn't even matter if you answer the dang question that you asked in the first place. The question is simply used to begin the thought process.

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