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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Re-reading Your Journal
Periodically, it is helpful to step back and take stock of your life. Re-reading your journal is an excellent way to do that. You have captured the subjective views of your life in your journal entries, and, with the aid of a wide-angle lens of time and a little synthetic detective work, you can gain a big-picture perspective of your life—like reaching the top of a mountain at the end of hike and looking back to see the route you have traveled. Re-reading your journal thoughtfully can be an important step in the process of your evolution.
Before embarking on a journal re-reading, it’s imperative to have the right attitude. The review process is about gaining greater understanding of yourself, NOT about beating yourself up. Reading past entries can bring up all sorts of feelings— surprise, admiration, embarrassment, boredom, respect, sadness, and scorn. The trick is to approach the re-reading with self-acceptance, openness, compassion, humor, and non-judgment.
One technique to staying positive and non-judgmental as you are reading your journal is to imagine that you are listening to a good friend. Good friends can help each other look for the silver lining, the positive spin, life patterns, and lessons learned from an experience.
Another crucial point is to remember that keeping a journal is about process, not product. Don’t judge your writing ability or style, or even basic spelling and grammar skills. Keep your interior red editing pen out of the picture.
Also keep in mind that journal writing serves different purposes for various times in your life—to record facts and events, to vent feelings, to confide secrets, or to sort out meaning. What was momentous for you a month ago, may not be today. Remember, too, that your understanding of your journal will be based on your feelings of the moment and in successive re-reading you might see things differently.
Occasionally re-reading a journal will allow you to see more than you may want to know about yourself. If you can’t maintain a constructive perspective, talk to a good friend and/or see a professional counselor.
LifeJournal can easily display the journal entries for a particular time period. Click the sixth circular command button (the one with the eye icon) to start the search process. If you want to see just your Daily Journal entries for the last year, deselect the Dream and Life History journal entries. Under Date, type in the beginning date (e.g. 1/1/01) after the word from, and the end date (e.g. 12/31/01) after the word to.Click the Search button, and you will have a list of all your Daily Journal entries for the year. Double click a journal entry. With the Previous and Next buttons you can “page” through the journal entries.
You can approach your journal review in several ways. You can read through it, with an open and inquisitive mind and see what your impressions are. This is an intuitive, non-structured process in which impressions and flashes of insight surface as you re-read the year’s entries. You may want to add comments as you read. Create a topic in the Topic List called “comments” and then select and assign that topic to your annotations. This will enable you to differentiate between what you wrote initially and what you added later. You may also want to include a date in the highlighted commentary text.
If you are looking for a little more structure while you re-read your journal, you can keep some questions in mind:
One of the benefits of LifeJournal is that you can track a particular issue or subject over time. For example, if you want to track your relationship with your sister, you can do a search on just the highlighted passages on the topic “sister.” Here’s how:
A document will appear with all of the passages that you have assigned the topicsister. If you want to see the context of the passage that you are viewing, double click on the journal entry title, and the whole entry will open.
Consider creating categories that you might not have currently in your Topics List to highlight passages that will further help track patterns for specific subjects. For example, you may want to add “challenges,” “conflict,” “strong influences,” or “lessons learned.” For more information about how to highlight passages view ourFebruary newsletter.
Here’s another aspect to consider when reviewing your journal entries: What’s missing from your journal? Are there times when you can tell that you are censoring yourself? Are you asking questions instead of puzzling out the answers? Insert the word “censoring,” so that you can go back and search later for those areas. You may want to highlight the text where you know you suppressed information and assign the topic “censored” to it, so that you can go back and see where you self-censor.
As part of your re-reading you may also want to look at the Daily Pulse Graph to see your trends and patterns. Click the fifth button from the right on the horizontal toolbar to open the Daily Pulse Graph. Click the rightmost of the three interval buttons (above the Print button), to view a year of charted Daily Pulse values. Look for trends. Where have the high points been? Where are the low points? What is occurring during the time building up to a high or low? Double click the point on the graph from which you want more information, and zoom into the 3-month interval. Double click on that point again and you will zoom into the 2-week interval. You can open the Daily Pulse Notes by double clicking the Daily Pulse Note icon on the horizontal x-axis. And you can open associated journal entries by double clicking the dot representing the Daily Pulse value. By reviewing your Daily Pulse Graph you may glean some valuable information about your patterns.
Use the Search function to find out what was happening in life when you were feeling extremely good or bad. Open the Search dialog and under Daily Pulse, after Mood, insert the number “1” after from and “3” after to. Click the Search button, and a list of journal entries that you wrote when your mood was low will appear. Read through those entries, and you’ll see what you was occurring in life when you mood was low.
Search for entries when your Mood was high (Daily Pulse values from 7 to 10), and see what helped create your life satisfactions during the year. Of course, you can conduct this and similar searches with all four of the Daily Pulse parameters.
Another approach to reviewing your journal focuses on questions that you may want to ask yourself after your re-read your journal. Here are some questions to get you started:
If you want to import these questions directly into your LifeJournal program, you will find them on our prompts page (www.lifejournal.com/prompts.html). Follow the directions for downloading and importing. You might also want to create questions of your own to answer as your re-read your journal and enter them into your Prompts database, using the Features menu>Prompts>Customize.
You might also want to create a journal entry or series of journal entries to summarize the portion of the journal that you are re-reading. Make it clear what the entry is by giving it a title that you’ll understand in subsequent years, like Summary, 2001. Or, you may want to create a topic in the Topic List, called Summary or Review that you assign to any journal entry that reflects your reaction to reading a chunk of past journal entries. With time, you’ll be able to compare these entries from one year to the next.
Reviewing your journals can be hard but very productive work. If you follow through on even a fraction of these suggestions, you will learn plenty about yourself.
Q: I purchased Life Journal a year ago and it has been working fine. Suddenly, I’m getting a message when I try to open it that says: “The file —–.DLL is out of date. The program requires a newer version.” What can I do to continue to write in Life Journal and access what I’ve already written?
A: Occasionally, when you install a new piece of software, it causes a problem in LifeJournal. Here’s what to do:
Chronicles Software Company is making the holiday season easier for you. We have several gift packages you might want to purchase for friends and family (or for you!) who enjoy writing:
“The years teach much which the days never knew.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
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