For the past decade or so, I’ve started my morning with a hot cup of tea. I wasn’t always this way. I never picked up the coffee habit so having a hot beverage in the morning was a new concept for me. What about you? Do you drink coffee or tea every morning?
Whether we’re talking about making coffee or tea, there are a couple essential tools. It doesn’t matter where in the world you might prepare your hot beverage of choice. You will always need a way to heat the water and something to hold the tea leaves (or beans, if we’re talking coffee) while brewing. If you don’t have these things, you can’t make your drink. If you didn’t at least have these two tools, you probably wouldn’t even attempt to make tea or coffee.
A “tool,” is something that allows you to do a particular task. They’re essential to reaching your goals. You’ve probably heard that you need “the right tools for the job.” It’s common-sense advice that we sometimes forget—or ignore—on our way to our goals.
That brings me to journaling. Journaling is an incredible tool for INFJs because of the way we’re wired. No matter where you are on the journaling spectrum—never, always, sporadically, or somewhere in-between—I encourage you to read through this with an open mind to discover a new perspective about what the tool of journaling can do for you.
If you don't already journal regularly, this article is not meant to make you feel guilty, even if you choose not to journal after you’re finished reading. It's a tool, and you get to choose whether or not you want to use it.
If you already journal, use this time to consider how you might deepen your journaling practice.
How journaling impacts an INFJ
1. Journaling provides you time for processing.
As an INFJ, you’re a post-processor. You are constantly taking in information through your dominant mental function, Introverted Intuition. You are most concerned with taking in information, or perceiving. The processing of this information takes place later, after your brain assembles the information you’ve taken in and offers an insight. Blocking off time to journal means you’re making it a priority to process everything that’s in your brain. This is so important for us INFJs!
2. Journaling is a vote of confidence in yourself.
When you write in a journal, you’re not writing for anyone else. It may help you make decisions related to others, but it’s really for you. Choosing to spend time journaling your thoughts is a way to say that you matter and that your thoughts, feelings, and ideas matter.
Many INFJs I work with have difficulty in choosing time for themselves. They often feel they have to give themselves permission to take time for themselves. It’s not my role to grant permission, but setting a specific goal around self-care activities like journaling seems to give clients “permission” to pursue it as a legitimate use of time.
My client, Jieun, shared with me that journaling is a vote of confidence in herself because it illustrates that her thoughts are worth articulating. That’s an incredible act of self-care! Through our coaching work together, Jieun discovered that she needed to forgive herself for not being perfect in order to start showing up in her life. Her perfectionism was living under the label of “self-aversion” until we gained a deeper insight in our conversations together.
Jieun chose journaling as the pathway to greater self-acceptance and confidence in who she was and what she had to offer. Setting an “official” goal to use journaling to acknowledge and understand herself gave her permission to value journaling.
When I asked Jieun to share what allows her to have freedom to journal rather than being blocked as she once was, she shared this:
“Freedom comes from knowing it is a practice. Most of all, freedom comes from this tremulous beginning of a sense that I have all the answers if I only know where to look. Increasing self-acceptance means that I might be willing to listen to what I have to say. Freedom comes from leaning into that sense that no one else understands you. This comes in handy in this scenario. Who better understands you but you? You understand perfectly. And you only need to dive into yourself to find that understanding.”
3. Journaling uncovers insights.
Many times INFJs need to get the information they’ve collected out into the world in some form in order to make a decision on it. This can happen in conversations with others such as a trusted friend or a coach, but it can also happen through journaling. Since I started journaling regularly a few years ago, it has become an important tool in giving me insights—including the insight to start working with INFJ women!
Your journal is a tool that allows you to get what’s in your head out into the world...even if it’s only for your own eyes. This act of recording what’s in your mind can help you to know what to do with all of the information you’ve gathered. Your Extraverted Feeling mental process provides a decision-making partner to your information-gathering Introverted Intuition. Extraverted Feeling is used to make decisions with an understanding and interest in how your decisions will impact others. During our coaching, Jieun found a way to activate this mental process through a specific journaling method that gave her insights on some things she wanted to say to herself:
“The journaling method I found helpful stemmed from the fact that everyone seems to come to me for advice and (though no one listens to advice, really) tell me they feel better afterwards. I figured, since I seem to be this well of answers for people, what if I tried answering some of the questions I had myself? Truth be told, articulating the question is the hardest part because it can feel very naked and vulnerable. Why do I have the right to ask anything at all? How stupid a question, etc. Things like that. But by stating plainly my question without thinking too much about whether I was asking it the right way or not in the form of an advice column (where I was both the letter-writer and the columnist), I found I had a great gateway to jump in and say some things to me. Often, it did bring to light something that was lurking underneath but that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Being able to articulate it can give you a sense of confidence or peace about your feelings and thoughts. Almost always, I am surprised. Who knew that was in there?”
I used to think of journaling as a self-indulgent act for those who really had something important to say. This thinking kept me from the benefits above for years! If you’ve ever felt this way, I challenge you to consider journaling as a tool—which is neither good or bad. A hammer is just a tool. It's not good or bad. But it's pretty hard to push a nail into wood without a hammer. So look at journaling as a tool that makes your journey on the way to the life you want to live more possible.
I'd love to hear about your journaling—why you do it or why you don't. Would you be willing to share with me about your journaling practice? If so, please comment below to share your experience with journaling.