I’ve kept a journal since childhood. Although I made some attempts at journaling as young as the age of 6, I started keeping a journal for real when I was around 10 or 11.
My desire to journal definitely met some headwinds. My mom was reluctant when she saw my determination to buy a diary and told me, “Never write anything that you don’t want anyone else to read.” I feel that kind of mindset totally misses the point of journaling. Plus you can always write stuff and destroy it after the fact.
Some talk about journaling like it’s this boring activity. Like, “Dear Diary, today I had toast for breakfast…” And others feel like journaling is just an excuse to rant and pour out negative emotions in private like some emo-kid from 2008.
Regardless of the negative feedback I received from the others around me, I had a burning desire to journal regardless. And for some, journaling may be a pointless activity. But for me, my journal is the interface for helping me to understand my inner world.
If you’re an INFP with a burning desire to journal, don’t ignore that. I highly encourage you to do it. Even 15 minutes of stream-of-conscious writing can make a difference.
Many INFP’s care deeply about journaling, so here I’m sharing some of the reasons why I like to journal and how that relates to my personality type.
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Journaling helps me to deal with overwhelm
As an INFP, my primary function is Introverted Feeling and my secondary function is Extroverted Intuition. That means that as an introvert, I need time to process things deeply. However, since I’m always on the lookout for the next new thing, I often take in more external information than I can process. Doing this leads to overwhelm.
For me overwhelm is like circular brain chatter that won’t stop. Or just a paralyzed feeling of being unable to handle it all. Yes, this is closely related to (if not the same) as anxiety.
When I feel this way, taking a moment to journal is like releasing the pressure valve of my brain. Free-writing is the best. I just let out all the thoughts that are swirling in my head, and I always feel better after I do.
If it’s an emotional issue, I let out my emotions and leave them there, often not even re-reading what I wrote.
If it’s feeling overwhelmed with choices and tasks, writing out everything that’s swirling in my mind makes it easier for me to go back, re-read it, and organize my thoughts into something more manageable.
Journaling is my main weapon against my anxiety because it allows me to see my thoughts and figure out what matters.
Journaling is a way to capture creativity
Online, we are bombarded by the polished creative work of others. It can be intimidating. However, what we forget is that most of those works had humble beginnings in a sketchbook, notebook, or planner.
My journal is the home of raw, unfiltered creativity. It helps me not only to save my ideas but then also to see what ideas I want to grow. I enjoy sketching, writing poetry, and story snippets in my journal.
Often my sketches are not worth sharing, but that’s okay. Today there is so much pressure to share all that we create. It’s nice to have a place where what I create is for me alone.
Journaling is a way to navigate my inner world
As an INFP, my main function is Introverted Feeling. That means that I’m always measuring what has personal value to me. Things that I value are the things that inspire me, and they are the blocks that build my inner world.
Journaling allows me to look at my values and inspirations from every angle. I can examine what I like, why I like it, and what that means in the grand scheme of my life.
Through writing, I build my personal identity and see who I am at the moment.
Journaling is a way to reflect and grow
Journaling also allows me to look back at who I used to be. Then from that, I can think about what kind of person I want to become.
My thoughts and imaginings about the future are my favorite things to journal about. I enjoy daydreaming with my words about where I would like to go and what I would like to do. And when looking back at my old journals, I’m often amazed at how much of that I was able to make happen.
Journaling makes me a better writer
Once I was talking to an acquaintance of mine who once and a while mentions how he would’ve liked to become an artist. His big hang-up is that he does not see the point in creating art that isn’t sellable or practical. I nodded and smiled because I understood his point of view. But although I understood it, inside I was like, “That’s the exact reason why you will never be able to sell any art if you did decide to become an artist!”
The art that artist does without pay and that doesn’t serve any “practical” purpose is called PRACTICE. And actually, the practice is the practical purpose. Making art that no one sees helps you to become a better artist. It’s like a pianist doing scales. Scales don’t make for great music, but they sharpen skills.
My messy, confusing, grammar-lacking, emotional journal is my practice. Through journaling I get to practice writing emotions, putting together narratives (even if it is just about what I ate for breakfast), and wordplay. I get to chronicle my internal motivations and see how that turns out for me. It also gives me a place to analyze other people. The results are that I know how to write from the heart, and that’s the number one gift that writers have to give to readers.