Interactive journaling is a style of writing in which you record, describe and explore experiences that cause you emotional pain. This kind of writing translates painful experiences and feelings into something tangible. Words give substance and structure to your suffering, and writing down your feelings automatically slows your thinking and shifts your perspective. The results – new and sometimes startling insights into your motivation and behavior–are the seeds of meaningful change.
No one is entirely sure why this kind of journaling works as well as it does, but there is no denying its benefits. Research conducted by Dr. Ira Progoff as long ago as 1957 demonstrated that when people write about personal traumas and painful emotions they can make amazing progress towards personal goals, including physical, emotional and spiritual healing. Psychologist James Pennbaker conducted experiments with people from diverse backgrounds and vastly different life circumstances who practiced “interactive journaling.” The majority of them not only reported subjective improvement in their lives, but had better immune function, fewer reported illnesses and trips to the doctor and more personal, career and financial success than others who simply kept a diary of life events.
Sigmund Freud called the process of expressing and releasing repressed memories and emotion “catharsis.” According to psychoanalytic theory, repression is an unconscious defense mechanism that allows a person to avoid confronting intolerably painful experience, such as childhood trauma or abuse. Repressed memories are inaccessible to the conscious mind, but may have devastating effects on your emotional health and well-being. Uncovering these memories through the practice of journaling allows you to bring them to the surface and process them in a safe and personally meaningful way.
Fear of the pain blinds us to the goal of healing. Only by seeing our problems clearly and experiencing them can we do something about them.” — Bob Hoffman