I am a Certified Journal to the Self Instructor. I am not consistent about keeping a journal anymore, but I do use the techniques for myself to work through issues in life, to focus on goals, and to create my future. I also use journal writing techniques with clients. The benefits of journaling are phenomenal. The most obvious is that is a way to record time, keep track of our accomplishments, disappointments and transformations. The added benefits are very therapeutic. For example, keeping a journal to record your feelings and thoughts provides the writer with a safe, non-judgemental place to work through what is going on for them.
There are many different techniques to use for journaling and there is no one right way to keep a journal. You can use coloured pens, write in a variety of books and include pictures. It’s very individual. Among the many techniques, my favorite is the Character Sketch, which can be used to work through challenges or to celebrate a loved one.
A character sketch is a written portrait of yourself or another person. It can also be about some part of yourself – a subpersonality (e.g. Cally the Comedian). If you are writing about yourself, be honest and use this to reveal qualities as well as things that you may like to change.
• Begin your entry with something like, “When I become Cally the Comedian, I….” and see where it leads you. You may discover why you want to be the comedian (i.e. what are you avoiding) or how much joy you glean from making others laugh. You may realize that in making others laugh, you do too and any problems in life seem smaller in that moment.
If you are having difficulty getting along with someone, write a character sketch to identify something about the person. It could be something that you have a hard time noticing about yourself or relating to about yourself – this is called “projection.” In other words, if you don’t like something in another person, it is often because we see it in ourselves. In this instance, you want to be honest and non-judgemental about what you write. Just get it out! You are not going to give this to the person; it is merely a way to work through your feelings.
• Begin your entry with, “What really bugs me about (insert name) is…” Write quickly and without rereading or judging grammar, punctuation and spelling. Once you have all your feelings out, finish the entry with this, “I think this bugs me so much because I…” and see where it leads you. What do you notice about you? How do you feel? Do you do the same thing as the other person? Is this something you want to change?
A character sketch is also a lovely way to pay tribute to your children, family and friends. You can write a character sketch about each person and put it inside a birthday card, or give it to them ‘just because.’ When writing a character sketch about the other person there are three things to remember:
What do you notice about the person (e.g. qualities, values, actions)?
What do you notice about yourself in relation to another (e.g. you are inspired by them)?
How do you feel (e.g. they bring the best out in you)?
©Janelle Breese Biagioni, RPC