Heal Negative Childhood Memories With Journaling

Updated: May 11, 2021



Have you ever had to confront the painful memories of a situation you experienced while you were growing up? Remembering these situations can feel like re-opening old wounds and will have you feeling the same emotions over and over again. Many times, this is one of the reasons we end up depressed or anxious. We are afraid to look back because we don’t want to have to feel that pain again, or we are afraid to move forward because we are so used to the pain that we don’t know how to live without it. The good thing is that journaling is a great and productive strategy to help you reflect on and heal from some of those old hurts. I have found that writing it all down is one step you can take on the path to your healing. There is comfort and power in writing those feelings and releasing the power they have over you.


Try these journaling techniques to help you resolve the pain of negative childhood memories, and release yourself from the depressed and anxious feelings of today.


1. Write about what you thought and felt. Go back in time, remember what negative situations were like for you, how they made you feel, and how your life was affected because of it. Did you feel embarrassed when a parent pointed out your flaws to other people? Were you angry because your mother or father wasn’t in your life, for whatever reason? Write it down.

2. What are your current thoughts and feelings? Next, use your “adult mind” to take a look at these situations the best you can. What does your adult mind tell you about what happened? Maybe you see things more clearly now as you have grown and gone through many challenges in your own life. Was one or both of your parents experiencing their own struggles that prevented them from being the person/people you needed them to be? As difficult as that may be, try to place yourself in their shoes and imagine what things must have been like for them. Write it down.

3. Document how the situations affected you then. How did you react as a child to what happened? How did you make sense of the situation then? Who, if anyone, did you talk to about how you felt? Mention them in your journal.

4. Think about how hurtful events from the past affect you now. See if you can make any connections between your past and present. Make a conscious decision to better manage your feelings and behavioral choices now. Write down how you can manage your emotions differently.

5. Vow to gain understanding. If it was a situation when your parent did something that you just couldn’t understand, can you make sense of it now?

· Explore these possible explanations through writing in your journal.


6. Re-write your history. Re-construct your childhood on paper and describe how you would have liked it to have been. It’s a learning experience to write how you would have liked your growing up years to have been different. Re-writing your history can also help you heal, then you can rewrite your life's movie and the roles you play in it.

7. Make a conscious decision to overcome your past. Whatever your old hurts, decide to disconnect them from your current life, you will never heal and free yourself if you don’t let go. This effort must be made consciously and with great thought. Write down how you can release yourself.

8. Recognize these events were in the past. As you record your thoughts and feelings, make note of how long ago the situations occurred. Label them “in the past” in your journal. Start a new section called, “In the present” and write about how you’ll respond to those types of hurts now.

9. Formulate a plan to let it go and move on. In your writings, consider steps you might take to move on in your life and live more openly and without being bound to old pain and trauma.

10. Give yourself permission to release the old, negative emotions. In your journal, jot down that you no longer have to carry the hurt. Allow yourself permission to leave it behind. You can even draw a picture of the tangled web of feelings and state you’re leaving all the pain right there between the lines of your journal.


Expressing yourself with pen and paper, or even on a computer, will help you get rid of painful feelings and move on with your goals. Live your best life now by using your journal to help heal old wounds. Your healing is in your words.


May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Keeping a journal and writing your daily thoughts and feelings can help when those depressive or anxious moments come.


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