A Practical Guide to Using Journaling to Overcome Addiction in Recovery

Journaling has been one of those daily disciplines that evade me. I have every good intention of doing it every day but fail often miserably. So now, I have committed to only journal three times a week. We’ll see how it works. However, this time, I actually have a plan, a list of questions to answer every time. But before I get to what to journal about, let me first briefly talk about the purpose of journaling.

Purpose of Journaling

There is a twofold purpose of journaling for any addict. First, since addicts use their acting out as a way to numb out or avoid feelings and emotions, journaling serves as necessary a way to make connections between thoughts, feelings, and actions. Second, journaling serves as a series of checkpoints along the road of happy destiny.

Journaling Content

First before I discuss the what of journaling, let me first talk about the length of journaling. This weekend my wife and I were briefly discussing journaling, and she was encouraging me to journal as she knows how difficult it is for me. Then she mentioned that I should just journal every time I commit to no matter what I write, even if it is just, “I hate journaling and I don’t feel like journaling today.” Simply the point is to write something down on paper.Now there are six basic questions that can be answered extremely quickly or even for the over-achiever, elaborately. They are FAST VG!

  1. Feelings: What feelings did I experience today and/or have right now?
  2. Acting Out: What, if any, acting out did you do today?
  3. Struggles: What struggles did you experience today?
  4. Temptations: What temptations did you experience today?
  5. Victories: What victories, no matter how small, did you experience today?
  6. God: How did you see God (or your higher power) working in your life today?

These questions can be answered in a wide variety of ways. Feelings are feelings, and they are as fickle as the weather. However, it is good to have a record to begin to see patterns of behavior. Acting out can look differently every day. I personally including any ritual behaviors or preoccupational thinking here too. Struggles I often relate to life, and sometimes to my faulty thinking. Temptations are my triggers. Victories are anything from pushing a thought out of my head to turning off the laptop to walking away to calling someone etc. I typically answer #1, #2-4 altogether with each event that I discuss, #5 and then #6. #6 has been more difficult for me than I expected; however, it is getting easier.So what about you? What do you use to journal?

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