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Are you wondering how to start journaling for self love, what to write in your self love journal or even how to write your thoughts and feelings? Or, possibly you are wondering how to develop self love.
How to start journaling for mental health to improve your mental health
Journaling for self love can be anything you want it to be. Generally speaking, when we are journaling for self love, it is because we are seeking some sort of personal growth in areas of our lives in which we are dissatisfied.
To maximize the benefits of your self love practice, however, understanding the concepts of self love can help you along your journey. Gathering journaling ideas is fabulous, and we all need some journaling inspiration, but don’t you want your personal development and personal growth journey to be your idea of success and not someone else’s?
According to Psychology Today, there are 3 aspects of self love:
But how can we begin to love ourselves, if we don’t really know what that means?
Meaning of Self Love
Most of us have probably heard the saying, “in order for someone to love you, you must first love yourself.” I know over the course of my lifetime, I have heard it a million times. But what is the true meaning of self love? Caitlyn Roux explains in her Ted Talk, Self Love: Be Intentional:
What self love is not
Well, let’s first discuss what self love is NOT:
Often times we as women think we are being selfish by showing ourselves some love. The struggle is real, and I completely get it. Over my lifetime I have struggled with co-dependency, meaning my happiness was dependent on someone else’s. If I wasn’t the one “making” the other person happy, then in my mind, I was worthless and a failure.
Often times, we women who are mothers struggle with self love because we feel we are being selfish and that by loving ourselves more, we are taking time away from our children.
In relationships, the nurturing part of ourselves wants to be supportive, doting, and caring and, therefore, pour everything we have into our partners. Sometimes we become resentful because our own needs are not met and we feel emotionally void.
Well, what if I told you that you can be a fabulous mother, friend, co worker AND partner, while loving on yourself at the same time? What if I told you that learning to love yourself first actually makes you a BETTER mother, a BETTER friend, and a BETTER partner?
Self-love is not simply a state of feeling good. It is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth.Deborah Khoshaba Psy.D. Psychology Today. A 7 Step Prescription for Self Love. 2012.
Simply put, self love is our “love of self” and having unconditional positive regard for ourselves as human beings. It is recognizing our worth, knowing and cultivating our potentials, positively fostering growth and happines from within ourselves (intrinsic) rather than searching for happiness outside our ourselves (extrinsic).
Why is self love important?
Self love is the key to emotional intelligence. When we are centered and grounded, aware of how our internal processes function, we are not only going to feel confident, we are going to carry ourselves confidently. Our emotional wellness is dependent upon our physical, psychological, social, and spiritual balance.
When we achieve self-love, we move closer towards self-actualization. We will manage stress more effectively and therefore, are more productive, have healthier relationships with others, achieve our goals, are able to problem-solve more efficiently, and achieve a higher level of happiness in our lives.
Journaling for self love begins with self-awareness
If you have found yourself searching for self-love journaling ideas and inspiration, you have probably noticed many people using beautiful artwork, fancy journaling spreads. Honestly, I do some, but I also have some journals that are minimal. The reason for this is because I don’t want my journaling practice to become tedious. I have a separate art journal that I have begun using when I have a need to be creative, which is most of the time.
One of the reasons many journalers have such creative and artistic spreads is because many are not beginners. My first bullet journal was a planner of sorts that I primarily used for keeping appointments and managing my bills. I created it in a Leuchtturm 1917 dot grid journal and it worked just fine.
Related article: Review of the 5 Best Bullet Journals for Beginners
However, when beginning any journaling practice, you need to know what it is you are trying to accomplish.
Journaling for self love is no different. If you would like to find your worth and learn how to love yourself, your journey to self love begins with self-awareness. It is very difficult to make changes to yourself if you are unaware of how you think and feel, and how your thoughts and emotions are connected to your responses to the world around you.
What is self-awareness?
Self-awareness is being aware of your thought processes: your thoughts, how they affect your emotions, and how emotions cause you to act.Sarah Len-Mutiwasekwa. Self-Love. Positive Psychology, 2020.
Sarah Len-Mutiwasekwa, Co-Founder and Program Director of the Global Institute of Emotional Health and Wellness, describes self awareness as “the key to emotional wellness.”
Many of our thought processes are deeply rooted in our belief systems. When we are faced with situations, our belief systems are activated, a thought is triggered, we feel emotions, we react, and there is an outcome, and the thinking cycle begins all over again.
Without getting complicated with all of the psychology and theory behind self-love, when we lack self-awareness, we are unaware of why we think, feel, and behave the way we do. This doesn’t only include the negative parts of our thought process, but also the positive.
I believe we all have some parts of ourselves we are confident about, but there are some things about ourselves we are not even aware of. Self-awareness gives us insight into how our internal process functions.
When journaling for mental health, beginning with self-awareness is an essential place to start understanding why we think, feel, and respond the way we do.
Self-awareness journaling ideas
There are many different ways to incorporate self-awareness into your self love journaling practice.
- Use mood trackers. A mood tracker is a chart that is used daily to monitor emotions. Since we can experience many emotions throughout a day, the simplest way to track our moods is by focusing on our most intense emotion you experienced that day. For example, if you felt happy throughout the day, but also felt lingering anxiousness and sadness, track the emotions that
- Log your thoughts. By keeping track of your thoughts, over time you will make a connection between your thoughts and your feelings. For example, after tracking your mood (or moods) for the day, write your thoughts connected with the emotion or emotions.
- Log triggers associated with your emotions. Make notations in your daily entries about what occurred prior, during, and after the triggering event or situation. Include your thoughts. Doing this will help you identify recurring patterns and will bring awareness to problematic thoughts. This is especially good if you have ruminating thoughts. In addition, write about the things that trigger positive feelings. You can use your positive thoughts and feelings as strengths. This is important because when you turn your negatives into positives, you learn self control which improves your overall sense of yourself and how you interact with the world around you.
- Guided journaling. Guided journals include journal prompts that generally focus on a specific topic and include journal prompts.
Finding your self-worth journaling for self love
The self-worth theory posits that an individual’s main priority in life is to find self-acceptance and that self-acceptance is often found through achievement (Covington & Beery, 1976)Ackerman, Courtney E., MSC. Positive Psychology. What is self worth and how do we increase it? (2020).
Courtney E. Ackerman, MSC, author of What is self worth and how do we increase it? breaks self-worth theory down into 4 elements: ability, effort, performance, and self-worth.
She writes, “According to the self-worth theory, self-worth is determined mostly by our self-evaluated abilities and our performance in one or more activities that we deem valuable.”
The key word here is SELF EVALUATED. Self love comes from within ourselves and the way we evaluate who we are impacts the value we place on ourselves. We may think we are good women, but if we don’t believe in it and are not aware of ourselves, we are going to seek our value from others. Our worth is not dependent upon the way others see us, but how we see ourselves.
In addition, our self worth is not defined by our appearance, our careers, how much money we make, other people, our relationships, how many friends we have, or even our contributions to the world.
Related article: Self Confidence Begins With a New Pair of Panties
Self-worth journaling ideas
- Make a list of strengths. By focusing on your strengths, your mind shifts on to the positive aspects of yourself from within. We can use our strengths to build on the areas of ourselves where we are lacking, to achieve our goals, and to empower ourselves.
- Make a list of weaknesses and things you want to improve about yourself and why these improvements are important to you. For example, if you tell yourself, “I need to lose weight.” What is your reason? Is it because you want to have a healthier body, or is it because you want other people to view you as attractive? Explore your reasons. We all have weaknesses because no one is perfect. In order for us to grow, this is an important aspect of self love.
- Set goals. Setting goals for yourself and following through with the steps to achieve them will help increase your self-confidence. You will gain an appreciation for yourself for your efforts and your performance.
- Take some time and reflect upon your satisfaction in your life. Thinking about the areas of our lives in which we are satisfied and dissatisfied can help us problem solve and to make decisions that can propel change.
- Journal your beliefs about yourself
- Challenge your negative thoughts
Psychology Today outlines the signs of someone who has a strong self esteem. Our interactions with the world outside of us is dependent upon how confident we are in who we are and in our skills and abilities.
One of the hallmarks of depression is hopelessness, sadness, and anxiety which lead to racing thoughts. Often times, when we ruminate, our thoughts don’t allow us room to pause and to focus. We react in our emotions and more times than not, we are left feeling bad about ourselves.
3 powerful ways to boost your self esteem with your daily journaling routine
- Create actionable positive affirmations. Reading or writing positive affirmations is a place to begin. However, creating an action plan and creating your own positive affirmations that are personal to you can help level up your self-esteem. To help get you started, here are some free worksheets for you:
2. Maintain a gratitude log. Joshua Brown, PhD and Joel Wong, Phd from Indiana University conducted a study on How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain. Their findings were: 1) gratitude “unshackles us from toxic emotions,” 2) is beneficial even when it is not shared with others, 3) the benefits take time, 4) has a lasting impact on the brain.
By starting a gratitude log, we can boost our self esteem because we become intentional about shifting our mindset on the positive aspects of ourselves and our lives. This can be beneficial for managing anxiety and depression by interrupting our negative racing thoughts. Though it is a gradual process, by being consistent, it can have long lasting positive benefits in mood and promote improved self esteem.
3. Use habit trackers. By using habit trackers, we can hold ourselves accountable. In addition, when we see our progress, it is self-empowering and can motivate you to continue moving forward. Sometimes when we try to establish new habits, the ones we try out don’t work for us. Don’t be discouraged. Sometimes it is trial and error. Stick with the ones that are working, and keep going until you establish a routine that works for you.
4. Celebrate your victories and achievements. Often times when we lack self esteem, we seek outside validation from others. By taking the time to celebrate our own achievements, we validate ourselves. You can get creative with it! I use a bullet journal for my self improvement journaling and I create a page at the end of every month that is dedicated to my successes. And nothing is too great or too small. Celebrating even the smallest things can boost your self esteem.
5. Create self care lists. We cannot forget to take care of ourselves. Self care is a lot more than bubble baths and pedicures. While it is part of taking pride and caring for ourselves, it is also important to focus on things like our physical health like exercise and eating healthy. When our bodies feel good, we feel good, and when we feel good, we project a positive image about the way we feel about ourselves. Spiritual health is also important.
Things like meditation, reading, reading the Bible, or anything else that cultivates a positive connection with you and the outside world, as well as a place to let things go, is essential for a positive mindset. One fun idea is to make a self care bingo in your your journal. Draw a bingo card and fill it with self care activities. Cross each one off as you complete it and when you get a bingo, REWARD YOURSELF!
Related Article: Uncensored Truths About Self Care
Learning how to love ourselves is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. It begins with self awareness, and we continue with finding our self worth and improving our self esteem. Through our journaling, we will discover who we are: likes, dislikes, what makes us happy, what makes us angry, what makes us feel stressed, and how we react to people and situations around us.
By implementing a daily journaling practice we can begin to find love within ourselves, rather than seeking it from others. We will learn to value ourselves as individuals rather than defining who we are by the things we do, our careers, or our relationships. We can become confident rather than shy, humble instead of proud, and we can enjoy and love the skin that we are in.