Why This Therapist Wants You To Read Through Old Journal Entries

Before getting started with this exercise, you’ll want to grab a pen or highlighter, as you’ll be marking up the text.

As you read back over your old entries, Welsh recommends circling, underlining, or highlighting any time you exaggerated, put yourself down, or got caught in a negative thought loop.

You can do this as frequently or infrequently as you like. Some might find value in doing it weekly or monthly, while others might choose to wait until they’re further removed from the subject matter. If you find that the practice makes it harder for you to write freely and openly, you might want to do it less frequently or stop altogether.

Whenever and whatever you’re reviewing—be it a gratitude journal, mindfulness journal, or even a dream journal—you’ll probably notice certain themes starting to come up. Keep a close eye out for ruminative thoughts—those sticky ones that you keep repeating without getting anywhere. For example, you might spend multiple entries beating yourself up for the same mistake or wishing a certain experience wasn’t happening.

These are the entries that could use some more probing. But once you see them written plainly on the page, you might find it easier to untangle them, challenge them, and start to move on from them. “In order to get yourself somewhere, you can think about what questions a therapist would ask to help you explore these things,” Welsh says, suggesting the following:

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