Active Journalling

The Most Effective Way Of Bringing Clarity To Your Thoughts.

Have you ever had one of those moments where you’re feeling a little off but you have no idea why?

So in an attempt to understand how you’re feeling you begin exploring your thoughts but they just keep slipping away from you. You can’t seem to get a clear or straight answer from yourself. It’s as thought you’re lost in a whirlpool of thoughts and ideas, never fully able to grasp any of them.

This is a struggle for so many people. As much as it’s incredibly powerful to be able to clearly recognize and understand your thoughts, they can be slippery little things to catch.

That’s where active journalling comes in. It is one of my favourite processes for getting my thoughts out of my head and onto paper so that I can clearly see them, analyze them and understand them.

Not only do I personally utilize active journalling in relation to my own thoughts and wellbeing. I also use it as a tool to help my clients bring clarity to their own thoughts.

Now if you’re reading this and thinking “what in the world is active journalling?” don’t worry, I’m about to teach you.

How To Active Journal –

Step 1: Meditation

Before we jump into the process you’ll need a notepad (or journal) and a pen. So grab those first.

Once you’ve got everything you need the first thing to do is adopt a comfortable position and do a brief meditation to help centre yourself and to slow your mind down (it’s hard to bring clarity to your thoughts if they are racing at a thousand miles an hour).

The aim here isn’t to “empty your mind” (because that’s impossible). Rather the aim is to become more present and centred. If you struggle with meditation I can highly recommend using a guided meditation app like Headspace or Calm.

Step 2: Trigger Question

Once you have reached a place where you feel calm, clear and relaxed ask yourself a question within your mind. This is the active part of active journalling. Where normal journalling allows your mind to go wherever it pleases active journalling revolves around a trigger question designed to narrow down focus.

For example; you could ask yourself “How am I feeling today?” Or you could be more specific and ask “Why am I upset with my boss at the moment?” The important thing here is to ensure that the question is open-ended so it elicits more than just a yes-no response. Asking your mind “Am I sad right now?” doesn’t leave much room for any deeper and more meaningful answers than a simple yes or no.

Step 3: Open, Honest And Authentic Answers

Once you have asked the question of your mind, open your eyes, come back to the room and proceed to write to anything and everything that comes to your mind. You may write feelings, thoughts or ideas. You may write in dot points or in full sentences. The important thing here is to not filter your answers. It doesn’t matter how ‘right’ they seem or whether you go off on a tangent. The important thing is that you allow your thoughts to spill out onto the paper.

After you have reached a point where you have nothing else to write take a moment to go back and reflect on your answers. Look for patterns, commonalities, trigger words and anything else that will help bring a greater level of awareness and understanding to your own mindset and thought patterns.

The reason why active journalling is so useful is because it brings clarity and awareness to your psychology and thoughts and this empowers us to enact change. As the saying goes – the first step of change is awareness.

Give it a go and see how it works for you! Remember that like any new skill there will be a learning period that involves you practicing and stuffing up repeatedly. Don’t be discouraged, this is the best way to learn. Stick with it and you’ll reap the rewards that come from having a clearer mind.


Written by Declan Edwards.

Declan is the Founder and CEO of BU Coaching - a forward thinking company that is shaking up the emotional wellbeing industry in Australia by offering an approach to developing Emotional Intelligence and Wellbeing in a way that is proactive, practical and fun.

Begin building your Emotional Intelligence and Wellbeing today by enrolling  BU Coaching’s FREE online course, The 5 Steps to Meaningful Change, or by registering for BU Coaching’s Live Australian Tour, Finding Emotional Freedom, coming to a city near you in July 2019! Check the BU Coaching website for further details;