Journaling seems to be a personal way to untangle my thoughts, notice things that I otherwise wouldn’t slow down and realize, towards resolving them. Below is a growing collection of prompts for introspective journaling based on behavioral therapy (mostly as a record for myself, but if it’s helpful, help yourself).

Disclaimer: this is in no way a replacement for therapy, nor is it intended for self-help. These are merely personal notes and brainstorming.

Addendum: it’s been pointed out to me that there are no instructions. As an FYI, I personally just pick a singular subcategory and prompt from the bunch (sometimes revisiting the same one if I feel like I’ve experienced some amount of changes or growth) depending on the mood and what stars align.

Additional prompt recommendations appreciated!


emotional regulation

Emotions are signals to how we feel about our experiences. Although our initial reaction isn’t something we can (and should) control, it can lead to a series of secondary emotions which can be regulated.

The next few sections are prompts to help better gain control of emotions and behaviours towards being more resillient and better self-managed.

reducing vulnerability

Strive to mend your physical health, eat in moderation and sleep sufficiently.


build mastery

Do things that help better your proficiency/competence.


positive experiences

Conscious and deliberate acknowledgement of personal experience help reinforce the feeling into our memories. Being able to recognize and recall positive experiences is the basis of emotional regulation, and grounded optimism. Journaling about positive experiences help us learn from those experiences, similar to how we retrospect on bad ones.


emotional mindfulness

Gaining the ability to be aware your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations in the present moment without passing a judgement, label, or self-criticism. This skill helps to separate the inner emotion from what’s happening around us, towards a better grasp of ourselves.


As well, some prompts for meta-mindfulness.


And a note on what to ask yourself to pinpoint how you feel:

  1. Do you feel good or bad?
  2. Is it a high-energy feeling or a low-energy feeling?
  3. To what intensity is it?
  4. What emotion do you feel? Could you add more nuance?
  5. What other secondary feelings are mixed in?

Remember that feelings have a lifespan; grow, peak, diminish. Awareness can give you some degree of control over it. Lastly, try not to criticize yourself or your emotions when you feel them.

emotional opposition

Sometimes, it helps to change the feeling simply by acting in the opposite way.


problem solving

This involves pinpointing the problem (usually indicated by how you feel), brainstorming for solutions and narrowing down on a specific solution. The more specific you are describing your problems, the easier it’ll be to think of solutions. Chat with a friend, family member or helpful stranger (me!) for more perspectives.


In the process of solving the problem, don’t move your goal post or targer further away as soon as you reach it. Acknowledge your progress.


Validation comes in the form of respecting yourself–and by extension–your feelings, encouraging yourself, and being kind to yourself in the situation you’re going through.


Take yourself seriously, in a non-judgemental way. Work towards acknowledging that you’re competent, that your experiences are valid, and that you’re able to get through the current times, as you’ve gotten through previous challenges similarly.



Encourage and support yourself in your turmoil; it’s only human to feel no matter your situation.



Accept and take care of your vulnerabilities. Don’t focus on what you should do, or what you should have.


direction and self-orientation

Sometimes, it helps to ask ourselves what we’d like to see, to be able to holistically decide on where we want to go. The following are some probing questions to calibrate our internal compass.

short term

Questions to help direct our day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month goal-setting in the many facades of life.


north star

General long term directions that guide how you act on a daily basis; the northern star that you’re navigating towards.


You may not always reach your northern star, but life is taking a scenic route doing genuine things with a certain amount of serendipity while traveling to that star.

closing words

Journaling doesn’t need to be artsy. It just needs a small block of downtime, some honesty with yourself, a bit of verbosity and any writing medium.