Using a ‘reflective journal’

Using a ‘reflective journal’

The aim is to improve awareness of the faults in our thought processing. 

By doing this, we also increase our self-awareness and learn when and where we should pause before responding during our daily activities and interactions with others.

It doesn’t matter whether you use a notebook and journal by hand, or whether you use electronic tools – both are beneficial. Reading your records out-loud to yourself reinforces all the things you have learned.

Write a list of your aims on the front page of your journal which may include:

  • Understanding my intentions
  • Understanding my values
  • Recognising my insights
  • Improving my processing speed
  • Getting to know me again

Use your imagination to add as many aims to this list as you can. Think about your intentions – what do you want to achieve?

Using a journal and reflective techniques also helps us to monitor our emotions better and:

  • focus on and understand our thoughts
  • understand our responses
  • experiment with ideas and develop them one step at a time
  • rein in our thinking so that it becomes more organised
  • reflect on processes behind our experiences and note causes of outcomes in greater detail to increase understanding
  • reinstate previous thought processes so that our thinking feels familiar again
  • express our feelings and emotions and notice where we need to make amends
  • reflect on experiences to make sense of them
  • encourage remembering, encourage repetition and maximise our chances of forming new habits
  • allows us to ask ourselves questions and to investigate and challenge our answers
  • allows us to notice and challenge our assumptions or automatic unconscious responses
  • allows us to report our realisations back to others developing understanding and encouraging feedback and support
  • increases propensity for self-responsibility
  • widens perspectives and views and helps us form new ones
  • analyse and make more sense of events
  • building a range of possible conclusions allowing us to explore each in more depth
  • form data for exploration by investigating our understanding of basic facts rather than assuming we fully understand already
  • increases insight
  • gives us a basis for comprehension other experiences
  • helps us understand alternatives
  • develops our ability to be mindful and to pay attention
  • helps us evaluate what was good and what was bad and needs improving which increases our awareness and chances of improving responses

Using reflective techniques is a dynamic process, so the more we do, the better we get. The more we practise this, the more significant the improvements in our executive function, cognitive skills and self-awareness, and ability to self-monitor and pre-empt possible pitfalls.

Make an action plan. When something doesn’t go as expected, pause, write it down, and relax knowing you will investigate this later.