Pen to Paper: Soulful, Loving and Guilt-Free Self-Care through Reflective Journaling

Senior woman writing in journalSoulful self-care is the way in which you care for and nourish the essence of who you are – past what you do, beyond all the roles that define you, it is how you turn inward to know, grow and care for yourself.

As women, our focus is often outwards on the needs of others and sometimes this other-focused caring can come at the cost of our own health, well-being and self-care.  This can lead to exhaustion, fatigue, resentment, illness and it can also weaken our sense of joy and happiness over time.  We need a balance or blend between self-care and other-care to ensure that we fill our own emotional cups. This helps us love better, parent better, lead better and feel better!  It is a win-win.

We are all meant to give and receive care – care from within and care from and for others. When we neglect our self-care, we give away our power and potential. By contrast, when we are connected with caring for ourselves, we are also tapped into our personal power through Source energy. Source energy is the universal, abundant, always generous energy that flows through us when we are open, aware and willing to receive. Source energy heals, energizes and supports the full expression of who we are and it gets blocked by busy-ness, procrastination, self-neglect and self-doubt – it gets blocked when we forget to care for the essence of who we are in a loving, gentle way.

One of the biggest reasons as women we might neglect or forget our own self-care is because we feel _____ (fill in the blank)… you’re right, we often feel guilty when we put our own needs first or make our self-care a priority.  To truly thrive and care for ourselves, we must eradicate guilt from the realm of self-care.  Guilt serves as a form of emotional and psychological sabotage…none of us want to feel guilty and we will do things to avoid feeling this way.  So if we feel guilty when we care for ourselves, you can see that it is harder to get to this important part of our lives because we may in fact be avoiding it for fear of being seen as selfish, self-indulgent, and so forth.

“We all have the power to transform ourselves and consciously choose something that does not already exist. At any moment we can create something beyond what is.” ~ Julie Ann Turner

As women, we must remember ourselves, we must not abandon ourselves.  It helps to care for ourselves as someone we really, really love.  How do you treat someone you really love?  How are you treating yourself?  How do you feel about yourself?  Think about this with a compassionate heart, suspend self-judgment and allow yourself to get curious and really reflect on the nature and level of self-care and self-love in your life at this time.  What do you notice about this part of your life and health?  What changes are calling to you at this time?

 “When I care for myself I am preparing the ground to care for my family, my work, and the world” ~ Gail Straub

Journaling is one way to care for ourselves as women.  Regular reflective journaling is a gentle practice where you show up to the blank page, and in turn, you show up for yourself.  Journal writing is a creative and effective way to reduce stress, gain clarity and connect with your spirit. 

Regular reflective and expressive writing helps you get crystal clear about your value, your worthiness, your story and the unique contribution you are here to make. The blank page invites your voice, your lived experience, your story and the longings in your heart. In this context, I believe journaling is a form of soulful self-care – a process that takes us into the heart of ourselves. When we access this place, this home where our personal power and inner wisdom live, we naturally access greater inner peace and are engaged in soulful self-care.

Reflective Journaling Exercise:  What does it mean to you to be a Soulful Self-Care Enthusiast?  Write for 20 minutes, starting with A Soulful Self-Care Enthusiast…

Given that I always try to “practice what I preach”, here is my journaling flowing from this exercise…

A soulful self-care enthusiast seeks wisdom and well-being for herself and others.

She loves and honors herself, often.

She gives and receives abundance with grace.

A soulful self-care enthusiast strives to truly care for others and the causes she believes in.

She remains authentic and lives to inspire by example.

She lives her truth quietly and out loud.

A soulful self-care enthusiast finds beauty, possibility and compassion in both her inner and outer worlds

She helps others to do the same.

She asks others for help when she needs it.

A soulful self-care enthusiast is calm, grounded and centered, even when the winds of her life blow all around her.

She feels her own pulse, as part of the pulse of the world.

She experiences a sense of oneness with all that is.

A soulful self-care enthusiast makes a difference with herPresence.

She breathes in and out with awareness.

She reflects often, listening to whispers of wisdom within.

A soulful self-care enthusiast knows that to be kind to another, she must be kind to herself.

Lynda Monk About Lynda Monk

Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, CPCC is a Registered Social Worker, a Writing for Wellness Coach and founder of Creative Wellness where writing, well-being and transformation. Lynda regularly speaks and teaches about reflective journaling and expressive writing as practices to enhance emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual health. Lynda offers transformational workshops, courses, online coaching programs, writing retreats, keynote speaking and guided journaling journeys. She is the author of Life Source Writing™: A Reflective Journaling Practice for Self-Discovery, Self-Care, Wellness and Creativity, and producer of the Creative Wellness Guided Meditations CD. She is also the co-author of Writing Alone Together: Journaling in a Circle of Women for Creativity, Compassion and Connection , and a contributing author to Choosing Happiness: Inspiration for a Women’s Soul (coming February 2015). Her book in progress is called Umbilical Cord: An Adoptee’s Memoir. She lives with her family on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada where she tries her best to write every day.
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  • Dawn Herring


    I could not agree more with your premise of letting go of the guilt in support of caring for ourselves in a soulful, loving and authentic manner. Journaling really is showing up for yourself in all of life’s dimensions. Gets us closer to where we want to go based on who we really are.

    I have chosen your post, Pen to Paper: Soulful, Loving and Guilt Free Self-Care through Reflective Journaling, for the #JournalChat Pick of the Day on 7/29/13 for all things journaling on Twitter;
    a link will be posted on the social networks, on my blog and website Refresh
    with Dawn Herring, and in my weekly Refresh Journal:

    #JournalChat Live is every Thursday, 5 EST/2 PST, for all things journaling on Twitter; our topic this week is Your Journaling: Go Deep with Decisions.

    Thanks for reminding us to love and honor ourselves as we journal and live authentically.

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    Your Refreshment Specialist
    Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition on Twitter
    Author of The Birthday Wall: Create a Collage to Celebrate Your Child

    • Lynda Monk MSW, CPCC

      Hi Dawn, thanks so much for your comment here. I just noticed it now! To refreshment and friendship, Lynda