Words from within

Journal writing can encourage you to stand strong and speak your truth

Do you ever find yourself in situations where you struggle to speak up? Do you want to set boundaries, or simply say “no”? Do you want to ask for what you need from a partner or friend? Do you find yourself pleasing others, or even being unsure of what you need because you’ve been silent for so long?

Perhaps it’s a situation at work where you find yourself taking on enough work for two and feel like you’ve reached a point where a limit needs to be established. Or, it could be you’d like a partner to do their share of the housework. You might want to say “no”, but find it hard to because you’ve spent your life being diplomatic and eager to please.

Finding your voice

Exploring your voice on the page can be the first step in learning how to articulate your thoughts, needs and desires off the page. This might help if you’ve spent so much time saying or doing what’s perceived to be the right thing that you’ve lost track of what you really think or want to say. Journalling can help to clear tangled thoughts and find clarity.

It can also help you tap into your intuition, that deep, inner knowing. While the conscious mind might deliberate and feel unsure about certain situations or decisions, intuition knows the answer. Writing can tap into the intuition and speak from it. In this way, picking up a pen could be the first step to finding inner strength and changing the trajectory of your life.

Losing your voice

Many people recall the experience of being silenced by teachers, mentors or older adults when they were young, instructed to keep quiet and not express their emotions. Some may have been shamed or punished for crying and been told not to whine or moan, even when they were struggling with deep, confusing or overwhelming feelings.


Finding your voice begins with listening, which will help you to figure out what you want to say. It can help to prepare some questions to ask yourself. Read through these suggestions and jot down any answers that come into your head.

Try not to second-guess your thoughts. Even if they seem off-topic, write them down. Trust that this process of listening can help you tap into your intuition.

You might want to write quickly so your inner critic doesn’t tap you on the shoulder and claim that what you want to say is inappropriate or unacceptable. See yourself as an empathic listener, paying attention to your mind, and trust that everything that flows out of your pen is important and has value, even if you might not understand it at first.


Visualisation has a powerful effect on the mind, which believes you have already achieved what you set out to do because you have seen it in your mind’s eye. With this information, picture a scene where you want to speak up.

Actually be there, feeling and doing it rather than viewing it as you might a movie or TV show. Visualise yourself taking a strong and confident stance. How do you feel inside? What are you saying? What are you wearing and how does your body move as you express yourself? What is the best possible outcome for how the person responds when you speak up? Visualise the scene in vivid detail and bring it to life.

When you need to vent

There are times to speak up and, equally, there are times to be silent. I’ve written previously and suggested exercises for venting (see Freedom of the Pen, Issue 21). If you haven’t already, try it out perhaps, before attempting the exercises here. If you feel really emotional about a topic, it may be worth asking yourself if what you want to say is something you need to say, to bring about change, or if it’s an emotion you need to let out before you can let go of it.


Questions you might consider:

  • What does finding your voice look like to you?
  • In which situations would you most like to find your voice?
  • With which people would you most like to find your voice?
  • Where in your life are you silent, and how is it making your life hard?
  • What do you need to say, and what sort of change do you want to bring about by learning to speak up?
  • What do you want: in relationships, at work, in your social life?
  • What is it that you really want to say?
  • What are you afraid might happen if you express what you really want to express?

After journalling on these questions, you might want to let the answers sit for a while before rereading them and thinking about your next steps.

Words by Kate Orson

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