A written journal is an excellent practice for recording, processing, and expressing thoughts. It can help untangle feelings and wipe clear out the mind with a fresh and regular brain dump. But have you ever tried audio journalling?
It’s not just a good alternative for those struggling with the time, energy, or focus to write. It has unique benefits that make it a perfect partner for an existing journal practice and supports deep processing for a highly sensitive nervous system.
You don’t need any specialist equipment. The phone in your pocket is enough. Most smartphones come with a voice memo app. Just open it up and hit record.
What Is Audio Journalling?
A written journal is a tool for processing our internal world, getting creative juices flowing, and recording the events of our lives. An audio journal can act the same way, except you record your words rather than writing them down.
Speaking and listening activate different parts of the brain. So, audio journalling gives us access to a potentially broader overall range of information in our reflections.
I noticed this when I started scripting my podcast episodes many years ago. I found I would write things that made sense on the page but sounded stilted and weird once read aloud. It’s often the same when you read a transcription of a speech. Impactful rhetoric isn’t necessarily a great piece of writing. Its power comes through the interaction between the presenters lips and our ears. Pauses, prosody, tonal shifts, and rhythm, all contribute to what we hear when we listen.
Our brains and bodies engage with verbal language differently from written language, giving us new pathways for meaningful reflection and insight. We pick up on things unique to the written and spoken word. And we can even alter the state of our nervous system when we speak the words ourselves.
But I Hate Hearing My Own Voice
If that’s you then you’re not alone. Many people report hating the sound of their own voice when hearing it back. It sounds weird and familiarly alien, like the taste of milk past its best. We might ask, “Do I really sound like that?” expecting others to say, “Of course not!” reassuringly. But the answer is usually yes unless something genuinely weird happens with the recording. The self-concept we hold about how we sound is challenged.
There are reasons we might find it horrible to hear.
Our voice is a vulnerable part of us. We are more self-critical when we hear words from our mouths. This is partly why an audio journal is an excellent path for self-exploration and inner growth. If we are willing to confront ourselves with those things that make us cringe, we can find meaningful routes to better embrace and integrate those parts of us.
The more you hear your voice, the easier it gets. Or at the very least, you become less sensitive to the baulking cringe response.
What Do I Say in an Audio Journal?
Treat your phone like another person. Maybe it’s like having a chat with your past/future self. Or you want to hit record and see what comes out through a stream of thoughtless consciousness.
There’s no prescription. Just experiment with different approaches. You probably want to find somewhere quiet to relax and speak without being overheard.
Questions You Can Ask Yourself
- What has been on my mind today?
- What am I feeling?
- What do I keep noticing at the moment?
- What am I dreaming about or wishing for?
The Potential Benefits of Audio Journalling
You might consider experimenting with audio journalling for many reasons. For highly sensitive people, it can be an added layer to support the deep processing we naturally do. It’s not necessarily an alternative to writing (unless you need it to be); it’s an additional piece of the overall picture.
There’s a Low Energetic Barrier To Entry
You don’t need to sit down and focus entirely on audio journalling. It works great when you’re not thinking too hard because you can capture thoughts as you go about your other tasks and activities. While you’re doing the chores, out for a walk, or getting ready at the start of the day.
It Helps You Sort Through Challenges
Speaking quiet mind tangles out loud can be precisely what they need. Ideas, thoughts, and worries can get messy and chaotic when stuck in our heads.
Audio journalling provides a platform to open up and explore challenges rather than demanding immediate solutions. As Dawson Trotman said, “Thoughts untangle themselves over lips and through fingertips”. We can uncover insights hiding in us when we allow ourselves to see the contours of thoughts once they are verbalised.
It Lets Your Nervous System Feel Heard
The autonomic nervous system scans the world for signs of threat and signals of safety. One of the points of safety that anchors it in connection is being seen and heard. By speaking to the feelings we are experiencing and our thoughts in response to those feelings, we are indicating to the nervous system that it is heard.
This dance of self-empathy observes a thought, word, or action, acknowledges the feelings being experienced, identifies an unmet need beneath those feelings, and agrees to simple steps to meet or mitigate the need.
Build Confidence and Practice Expressing Yourself
Do you have much chance to explore what and how you want to express yourself?
We might spend a lot of time self-censoring and being careful with our words in day-to-day life. So, an audio journal is like a training environment for self-expression. Maybe there’s a difficult conversation you’re apprehensive about, an upcoming presentation, or you want to develop a more confident approach to your communication style in general. You can try things out without worrying what others are thinking.
It will probably feel awkward at first, but you will discover, feel, and embody your voice in new ways over time.
Should You Listen Back To Your Audio Journal?
You don’t need to listen back to old audio journals. There is enough of a benefit to the practice without that step. But if you’re up for trying it, some potential hidden gems are waiting for you to excavate if you do listen back.
Bringing The Inner Critic(s) Into The Light
The presence of our inner critic is akin to a shadow on the wall. It looms large without definition and detail. But something happens when we allow it to speak aloud. We can better see it for what it is—hearing its needs beneath the noise and seeing whether it has anything worthwhile to say. With an audio journal, we might listen to the voice of our inner critic and notice that it doesn’t make much sense in the cold light of day.
You get to notice shifts over time. Maybe when you describe particular situations, people, and experiences, you notice a change in the tone of your voice. The pace picks up or slows down. You can hear yourself smiling or frowning. Your voice might sound expressive and accessible or become guarded and cautious. What do you take from that?
Slips and Accidents
Perhaps there are words you didn’t intend to say. Maybe you confuse the names of people or places. What might that tell you about any deeper desires or feelings you might want to give space to explore? It might be nothing, but it might tell you something.
Are there themes and patterns? Words, ideas, and ways of describing things that repeat?
One of the core universal benefits of reviewing a journal is to track changes and growth. Even if (especially if) we feel like we’ve become stagnant and caught in specific life drifts, there are always reasons to be hopeful. Changes we’ve adapted to, developments we’ve taken for granted, and shifts we haven’t noticed happening beneath the surface.
It’s a reminder that even when it feels like we’re going nowhere, something is always taking root below ground. We don’t always need to be pushing. Reviewing a journal allows us to rest in the knowledge that sometimes the best thing we can do is let go of the drive to control outcomes.
Do you fancy giving it a go? I’d love to hear how you get on and if you have any further questions that I haven’t covered in this article. Drop a comment below or check out the forum conversation on this topic if you’re a Haven member.
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