Journaling Self-development

Audio journaling- what I’ve learnt

The beginning of 2020 sparked a desire in me to get my life together. I was 19 years old, had a comfortable job, and was about to start my second year of university. However, I was dissatisfied with the person I was- lost, stagnant, and lacking confidence in my ability to progress. So, I turned to audio journaling for grounding and guidance. I recorded my first entry on March 14th, 2020, completely oblivious to the direction the world was heading in.

It’s been over 260 days of lockdown and over 700 hours of ranting, rambling, and raving to myself. I’ve recorded well over 600 entries!

Now, I can successfully say that audio journaling allowed me to survive and even enjoy two years of uncertainty.

Why audio journal?

One of the most annoying pieces of advice I received throughout high school was that I should take up journaling. Every counsellor I saw suggested that it would aid in self-expression. Lots of online productivity influencers and life coaches promised that it would solve all your problems. It seemed completely logical; I was eager to become a writer, so why not write down my feelings? It would only be beneficial- whatever I’d write could be used to inspire poetry and stories.

So, throughout various points in high school, I took my pen to one of my various gifted notebooks and wrote.

And I hated it! All too often, it felt like my thoughts were moving much faster than my hand. My perfectionism took over and I obsessed over spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. I also had trouble translating abstract feelings to the written word, which didn’t inspire much confidence as a wannabe writer. Writing down negative thoughts pushed them deeper into my mind, trapping me in unhealthy mindsets.

After many failed attempts, I decided that writing my journals wasn’t for me. I went through years of not knowing how to properly articulate and acknowledge what I was going through. By the time it was 2020, I knew that something needed to be done. I needed to journal in a manner that could keep up with my confusing, abstract thoughts and not encourage perfectionism.

What I’ve learnt…

It’s easier to express yourself

As mentioned earlier, I had a lot of difficulty with expressing my feelings. My thoughts were abstract, based on visuals and emotions built on my memories. Explaining myself was frustrating because I needed to go on a gazillion tangents to get to the point. This was also difficult to do in a written format.

With audio journaling, you can talk about whatever you want and go on as many tangents as you please. You can dictate at a much faster rate than writing. It feels more like you’re engaging in the present moment of what you’re saying rather than dwelling on what you said or worrying about what you’ll say next.

With this limitless space, you can uncover the right terms and concepts to describe how you feel. The more you engage with this type of journaling, the easier it’ll become. So, something that used to take hours for me to explain now takes just a couple of confident, well-thought-out sentences.

It releases negativity

We’ve all had those moments when we feel so upset or frustrated that we need to vent to a friend. I think venting is a great way to release negativity, but it can come at a cost. Sometimes, you want to vent for the sake of it, but the person listening takes your words dead seriously. Something that was supposed to be an opportunity to release emotions can very quickly evolve into gossip, blackmail, or arguments.

Audio journaling exists in a void- there is no one there to validate or invalidate your feelings. You don’t need to worry about someone taking what you say a bit too literally or not literally enough. It’s a chance for you to say everything you need to without any judgement except for your own. You can take the impulsive things you’ve said in an entry and curate your thoughts to express them patiently and carefully in real life.

I’ve avoided many arguments by simply venting through audio journaling before confronting someone. I ask myself- is this even necessary to bring up? If it is, is there a better way of expressing it? Audio journaling can improve your ability to stand up for yourself in a respectful manner.

You feel more inclined to ‘call yourself out’

Often, the people we surround ourselves with are kind and supportive, which is wonderful! However, this can lead to us being around ‘yes people’ who tell us what we want to hear, rather than what we need to hear.

What I needed couldn’t be found in the approval or disapproval of others, no matter how loving they were. Often, the answers to my questions and frustrations were within me the whole time.

Audio journaling verbalises your thoughts. Even though it’s a personal and private process, it’s a way to get everything internal out into the external world. I’ve had moments where I’ve caught myself saying things that were melodramatic whether it was in reference to myself or others. This moment of self-awareness is confronting at first, as you need to acknowledge that you might be wrong about something. You can choose to be ashamed of it and allow it to fester into self-hatred. Or, you can be proactive and change the way you talk about things in a more positive light.

I’m at the point where I don’t name names when talking about others in my entries. I assess where I stand with people based on their actions, rather than judgement centred on projecting my insecurities. You might realise that you were being too hard on someone, or perhaps you need to consider setting some boundaries.

It pushes you to do the things that you’ve always wanted to do

Motivation has always been a weird thing for me. In the past, I’ve been both a perfectionist and a procrastinator, which isn’t a fun combination.

I like Tim Urban’s famous TED talk, Inside the mind of a master procrastinator. He suggests that for many procrastinators, it’s not willpower, but a last-minute ‘panic monster’ that pushes you to complete tasks. However, I’ve found that relying on the panic monster for motivation for school and work assignments causes burnout. And, what about the projects related to dreams and personal fulfilment? I always dismissed them as being ‘too hard’ or told myself that I needed to ‘wait for the right moment’. As the years went by, I realised that the ‘right moment’ will never come unless I do the work myself.

Audio journaling made me realise that starting and completing projects shouldn’t have to be that hard. I went from saying ‘I’m not good enough to do that’ to ‘I think I’d have a lot of fun trying that’. It allows me to practise creative problem-solving skills. My ability to solve issues quickly and without too much stress has improved dramatically.

Your perception of time changes

I never thought that I could talk to myself for three hours straight until I started audio journaling. Sometimes, I record for ten minutes, but I believe the average duration of my entries is about an hour! There’s also been a lot of times where I’ve recorded three or four entries in one day! You’d be surprised how much you need to say when you give yourself the space to.

I’m always able to carve out time to audio journal on most days, without disrupting my workflow. Sometimes, I squeezed a quick and quiet entry at seven in the morning just before work. Other times, it was just about saying a few things before bed. But I always managed to fit it in because I genuinely enjoyed it.

I realised that there are so many hours in the day, and I wasn’t making the most of them. Rather than waste time worrying about how little time I have on this planet, I try to do something I enjoy instead.

Furthermore, unlike a written journal, audio journaling can be hands-free. Try plugging in some earbuds and putting your phone into a pocket or a bag. Now, you can get in your steps for the day, draw a picture, or clean up your space while talking.

It’s an incredible act of self-love

Self-care and self-love have become buzzwords, and there is debate over whether they are helpful or harmful concepts. I personally find them to be helpful concepts. I think it’s all about how you interpret and utilise them within your life.

Audio journaling enables me to have a friendship with myself. Regardless of how much I disliked myself in the past, I’ve realised that I need a positive connection with myself. After all, I have no choice but to spend twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week with me! No friend, family member, or romantic partner is going to come before you. We’re often told that putting yourself before others is a selfish act, but I disagree. Prioritising your own health and interests enables you to become a happier, stronger, more empathetic, and helpful friend.

Verbalising your abstract internal thoughts acknowledges and validates you. You’re giving yourself a platform to express, explore, to solve. A friendship with yourself is honest, you work through trauma, hard truths, and your ego. A friendship with yourself enables you to be resilient in tough times. It also helps you cultivate a support network that elevates rather than hinders you.

Through the act of self-love, you can uncover the tools and skills that will allow you to provide help to others in a manner that is as wonderful and unique as you!

Closing thoughts:

Of course, just as journaling through writing wasn’t for me, journaling through speaking might not be for you. And that’s perfectly fine! I’m a big believer in experimenting and finding the self-development tools that work best for you. If you struggle with self-expression, I hope this post inspired you to give audio journaling a try.

Feel free to share your experiences with journaling in the comment section below!

31 replies on “Audio journaling- what I’ve learnt”

Such a wonderful read! Defiantly convinced to try audio-journaling out—oh to be verbally articulate without stuttering or mumbling.

Thanks, Jammy! I found that audio journaling on a regular basis increased my confidence in my speaking abilities. I hope you enjoy it 🙂

I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I?ll bookmark your blog and check again here regularly. I’m quite certain I?ll learn lots of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

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