My Journal Keeps Me Sane-ish

My first ever journal entry, February 27, 1971. I was 19, a sophomore in college. I decided it might be important to record my experiences during those formative years. I haven’t stopped. It is May 2023.

That is a lot of journals.

(A few of my journals)

My journals contain a variety of types of entries: Significant and insignificant events. Angst (lots of angst). Unsent letters to former lovers. Stories to unlock stuck emotions. Poems to boyfriends. Expletives. Heartache. Conversations with subpersonalities. Trauma processing. Photos. Soul collages. Lists. Memorabilia. Doodles. Drawings. Conversations with spiritual guides. Stories to gain insight. And more.

In preparation for this post, I started rereading my earliest journals. Gulp. Let’s just say that in my 20s, I was kind of scandalous untoward hapless fraught. I was active in lots of community theatre in those years. And, well, you know. Theatre people. Scandalous. Untoward. Hapless. Right? OK. Not necessarily. It may have just been me and some of the scoundrels I attracted. And, well, journals are often places where we freely vent and express our worst selves. So, was I really that boy crazy and immature? Did I always pick the unavailable men?


But I do have to give myself credit for my capacity, even at that age, to acquire and maintain teaching jobs that were satisfying and fulfilling. I was 24 when I got my job teaching gifted middle schoolers. Somehow I was a competent, creative teacher by day and a needy, anxious, lost soul by night.

Maybe I should recommend you use your journals to record and process your life, but don’t read them later! Or, at least, be sure to include entries where you report the successes, the peaceful moments, and the creative inspirations.

Of course, in my 20’s, I had yet to receive counseling. As I moved into my 30’s, and started as a client in therapy, my journals became less of a reporting of events and more of a place to process said events and to make connections between my present relationship trials and the early patterns set up in my family of origin; As in, some of those unsent letters to boyfriends became insights into my dysfunctional relationship with my abusive father. (Yes, dears, as much as people would like to think you can ignore your childhood traumas and live happily ever after, well, I have yet to find anyone who has done that. The influence of parents is powerful. If you don’t believe me, just watch a parent with a young child for a little while. You can’t miss it. You can read more on that here.) Ideally, then, if you have childhood trauma, you choose the special combo deal on the menu. Journaling with a generous dollop of therapy. Or, depending on your situation, therapy with a hefty side order of fries journaling.

Your journals may evolve over time, like mine. There was the College Days Memories journal. The I Hate All Humans journal. The attempt at Art Journaling journal. The Why Did I Come to This Planet journal. The Letters to my Future Boyfriend journal. The Bring this Issue to Therapy Journal. The many journals full of dialogues with my inner child, my anxiety, my melancholy, and my headaches. The Multipotentialite’s Manifesto journal. The Argentine Tango with the Younger Man Bad Poetry journal. And most recently, my favorite, the journals containing my slightly humorous The Woman Who…stories. Stories that get me unstuck on those days when hormone levels plummet, my hair is particularly unruly, all of my friends are ignoring me, I decide I actually am that needy, anxious, lost soul, and the planets are in retrograde.

And so, my little chickadees, you may be wondering, oh, but how do I begin? I have your answer. Well, I almost have your answer. (maybe early June) I have created a guided journal just for you! It will actually take you through some of your very specific rainforest-y issues. Sensitivity. Empathy. Loneliness. School. Multipotentiaility. Fear of Failure/Success. Finding your Purposes. Social responsibility. And more. Not only that. I include, in the end, samples of those The Woman (or Person) Who… stories, so you can learn how to write them yourself and you can peer into the deep caverns of my psycho-spiritual escapades. I will be sure to let you know when the book is available.

In the meantime, go easy on your former or your present 20-something self. Even if you feel/felt scandalous, untoward, hapless, and fraught. Even if your nights are needy, anxious, and lost. Try journaling.

It will keep you sane-ish.


To my bloggEEs: You know what else keeps me sane-ish? Writing to you! Thank you so much for being here. Sending you hugs and kisses! Let us know in the comments if you are a journal writer and how that has helped you. Or if you have questions about my latest book’s arrival!

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

14 responses to “My Journal Keeps Me Sane-ish”

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  1. My New Book "Saving Your Rainforest Mind-A Guided Journal for the Curious, Creative, Smart, & Sensitive" is Available Now! – YOUR RAINFOREST MIND

    […] if you are unsure if journaling is for you, click on this link (My Journal Keeps Me Sane-ish) to read about my own experience with my journals and why it is so […]

  2. Me Avatar

    I have been journaling in my teens, unaware that my parents read every little bit I wrote. Of course the day came they read something they did not agree with and I was summoned to an interrogation in which I was supposed to explain my thoughts only to be condemned for having them afterwards, as there was no reason for “theses kind of thoughts“ according to my parents. In the end I had to apologise, to tear the „unauthorised writing“ to pieces, only to keep the peace and avoid a lengthy grounding.
    I did not trust the paper any longer, I only wrote what was safe to write and for more than two decades I did not journal at all.
    Even today in my mid-fifties I am worried that somebody will go through my journals again. And I am still not writing about everything that moves me.
    Many of of my journals entered the fire…

    I just realise how much of a trust issue I have! Maybe because my parents still believe, even today!, they did the right thing, that as parents they hat the right to do it, back then.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Sadly, I have heard that story too many times. So sorry, Me!

      1. Me Avatar

        Thank you, Paula 🙏🏻

  3. Marina Avatar

    Wonderful post, Paula, thank you! In case someone would like to keep a different kind of journal, try digital Padlet that allows you to insert images and a short text in relation to your image. I find this really useful and a lot of fun, as it allows me to visualise the topic, and it is a quick way to write and keep my notes to myself!

    1. pprober Avatar

      Thanks for this suggestion, Marina!

  4. Sharon Avatar

    I have been a journal writer since childhood (am now 40) and it has helped me immensely. I definitely advocate it! And I have also been horrified by re-reading but have also found healing and insight through that process. I enjoyed this post and look forward to your journal!

    1. pprober Avatar

      Yes, it can be horrifying and healing!! Thanks Sharon.

  5. Leafy Avatar

    Journaling can be very helpful, I agree. Another thing I’ve found useful is reading about issues related to having a rainforest mind (such as the posts on this blog) from a large variety of sources and as much as possible. It helps keep my brain active while figuring things out, even if by small “epiphanies” spaced over time, where things just click.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Any particularly helpful sources, Leafy? (besides my blog and books, of course!! 🙂 )

      1. Leafy Avatar

        Ah, sure! 🙂 I love Elaine Aron’s blog, “Comfort Zone” on her website ( It helps understand the sensitivity aspect of being an RFM. There is also about Dabrowski’s theory of positive disintegration. For general learning, I also love Wikipedia vital articles: 50,000 entries organized in five levels of importance ( These really cover a lot of ground.

        1. pprober Avatar

          Thanks, Leafy!

  6. Ciera Avatar

    This post really made me laugh, Paula. And I need that right now (the end of the semester…group project headaches)!
    Yes, journaling does wonders. Everyone in grade 9 was highly encouraged to journal by the school counsellor after someone self-harmed themself and we each received a little notepad. But I distinctly remember feeling that I did not want to write anything, not do something I was told I should do. I was also scared my parents or sister would find the journal. But when I was done high school and arrived in Mexico for a year-long exchange program at 17, I began a ritual of daily journaling which began in English and progressed with more and more Spanish as I learned. I would sometimes force myself to write the daily highlights even at 3am as my eyes closed, such as after a birthday party or wedding. I had quite the scowl of disapproval at someone invading my thought process when they rudely photographed me while I wrote on a lazy weekend afternoon. If no one wanted to talk about anything interesting, at least I could have a conversation with the paper.
    Back in Canada I continued writing in Spanish as it was a built-in privacy factor in case someone found my writing. I also have a stack of old journals and the few times I have attempted to revisit them, I have both cringed and been surprised at the randomness and the small daily details that I’ve largely forgotten. There are certainly many good moments and conversations that I wish I had written about, especially during the busy years of working. My journal is always a refuge. Now I write in various languages depending on my mood or whatever language I am thinking in when I sit down to write, and that is also a comforting way to travel even more through words than if I just write in English.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Glad you laughed, Ciera! That is my favorite part of writing these posts–when I can find the humor in my life! I know many people have expressed concerns about having their journals read by others. Great idea to write in another language! Thank you.