Once you have filled a few journals, even as little as two or three, those pages would become a trove of information that you can mine through. The process of journaling is usually about here and now. When you write in your journal, you are immersed in the present moment.
You may be whining or ranting, making plans for the future, contemplating the status of your relationships or your spirituality….but all of that, you are doing in that moment in time, while it’s going through your head. If you are focused on what you are writing, you aren’t really thinking about what you may have written before. But finding patterns is one of the most useful things you could do when you are reviewing your completed journals.
Guidelines for Finding Patterns in Your Journals
1. Ideally, wait until a journal is complete. Re-reading a journal that is incomplete is like attempting to find an answer before you know the question.
2. If you have indexed your journals, then you can first review the categories in your index. Are they repeated throughout different journals? Which ones take up a lot of pages?
3. As you review each journal, make a note (mental or physical) of the topics/issues that are repeated throughout. Maybe your love-life never seems to get sorted, or issues with your mother keep cropping up. Maybe you can’t hold a job, but you don’t really know why. Perhaps you feel lost and don’t know what to do about it. In almost every case, there will be at least one or two issues that keep repeating. Things that your mind keeps dwelling on, because you don’t seem to have found a solution.
4. Once you have reviewed your journals, think about what the most prevalent issues are? How often do they crop up? Look at the patterns. Some issues may come up periodically, because of particular triggers. Others may crop up more frequently.
5. Analyse that information. What are the triggers? Can you avoid them, or do something about them? What are the patterns that keep repeating? Were you even aware of them? What do these patterns tell you?
6. Do any of those patterns need breaking? How would you go about doing that?
7. Are there any of the patterns that are beneficial? For example, if you regularly review your goals or dreams in your journal, or if there is a trigger that makes you do that periodically, that’s a positive practice. How can you make sure that you keep reinforcing positive patterns?
Finding patterns is neither easy nor comfortable, because most of the time the patterns you find are the ones that need to be broken. But it’s an exercise that will yield dramatic results once you get used to it. Until you can find the patterns, you can’t break them or use them to your advantage.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY
Look through your finished journals, and find at least one pattern.