And I did keep them. (Maybe this is my inner hoarder talking, but what else are you going to do with a notebook you’ve filled up? And now, when I think of all those notebooks, I am horrified at the thought of someone reading them.)
Nonetheless, I had always thought of journal-keeping as a good thing to do, psychologically, emotionally, practically. As many famous writers have said (like William Thackeray: “There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write”), it always seemed to me that writing is a way to figure out what you think. If you can lay out something that bothers you, for example, you will see it has boundaries to it; you can get the measure of it and deal with it.
But recently I have come across other ideas.
In a book called The Confidence Code,the authors, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, say women “overthink.” They go so far as to call this “rumination.” Rumination, in the psychological sense, has a specific meaning, however: it is an endless loop of useless negative thoughts that the thinker can’t stop.
But I think of journal-keeping as thinking, not rumination.
And here’s where my perusal of Wikipedia got mind-bendy. Turns out I may not be not as good at introspection, knowing what I think and feel and why, as I’d like to think. That’s called the introspection illusion.
And it's truly a freaky idea.
But even if it’s imperfect, and even if I may do more of it than I should, stalling for time when I should take action, I still can’t help but think that thinking is a good idea.
After all, consider the alternative.