Woman writing into her diary while sitting on the floor

Why Journaling Is Especially Helpful to Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents

By Lindsay C. Gibson, PsyD, author of Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents Guided Journal

The point of such inner exploration is lost on emotionally immature people (EIPs). They’re not looking for self-discovery; they crave certainty and they insist on being right. They rarely self-reflect because that might introduce new ideas and uncertainty—an unsettling and unwanted prospect. Since EIPs are not psychologically growth-minded or introspective about their own lives, they repeat and relive the same narrative over and over again—and they expect you to go along with it. Their view of themselves and others never deepens; it just maintains its stereotyped, one-dimensional superficiality.

EIPs are skeptical of—even hostile to—the inner psychological world of other people (Gibson 2015; Shaw 2014). They dislike thinking about anything that isn’t directly relevant to them. In contrast, if you are an internalizer type of adult child of emotionally immature parents (ACEIPs), you are deeply aware of what goes on inside you, enabling you to use self-reflection to understand yourself. With journaling, you can expand your self-awareness, learn from your experiences, validate your perceptions, reverse the impact of EIPs on your life, and take conscious control over your life choices.

The simple act of putting pen to paper affirms the worth of your thoughts and feelings. When you journal about your inner experiences—your thoughts, feelings, and wishes—you connect with yourself and realize that you have a right to be here, a right to your feelings, and a right to consider your life as important as anyone else’s. Getting your experiences down on paper gives you perspective and a chance to feel deeper empathy for yourself. Journaling is not a superficial pursuit, a little make-work activity to while away the time. It is an encounter with your soul—or whatever you call your spark of absolute individuality—in all its known and unknown aspects. Journaling offsets the invalidation of EIPs who predictably scoff at any time spent on self-exploration. They think they’re doing fine without thinking about their inner psychological world, even as other people pay the price of their unawareness. But you know better. If you’re an internalizer, you know from experience that your inner life is the wellspring of your happiness and self-actualization, not to mention your ability to love others. By writing in a journal, you are honoring the crucial importance of your inner life.

Your Never-Ending Development as a Person

As a child you sought your parents’ approval because every child’s development is fueled by their parents’ love and admiration. Even if the relationship is not very nurturing, the child of EI parents will create a healing fantasy to make up for it (Gibson 2015). They hope that the parent will one day change and be able to give them that nurturing connection and support. The false promise of healing fantasies is that one day you will find a way to engage their attention and finally get close to them.

But your emotional maturity as an adult is not dependent on your EI parent’s recognizing your worth and giving you permission to grow. You can grow and develop yourself right now without their help. You don’t need an EIP’s permission for that. In fact, you can do it over their explicit objections.

Each one of us has a unique psychological maturational drive orchestrated by something within us that pushes us to know ourselves, master reality, and handle adult problems and responsibilities (Anderson 1995). This inner push comes from what I call the higher or true self, but you may have other names for whatever it is in you that seeks expansion, competence, and meaningful living. This journal is designed to assist you in developing your individuality and lifelong psychological maturation—enabling you to grow into an emotionally mature person.

Outlet vs. Growth Journaling

A journal as an outlet can be tremendously helpful for expressing yourself safely and clarifying your thinking when you’re in the middle of tumult or have to make a big decision. In this book, I plan to show you another kind of journaling that can actually change your life—guided growth journaling. Growth journaling can help you tap into the intuitive guidance of your higher self. We all have this inner growth drive to develop psychologically, but EIPs keep ignoring it while others, like you, pursue it to become more of who you were meant to be.

Your biggest psychological task in life is to discover your true self—that firm sense of who you really are. Nothing really goes right without it. I hope to create with you in this journal a structured path forward with a specific goal in mind: to actualize and empower your sense of self in the deepest possible way. To do that, you must understand and reverse the impact of the EIPs in your life. These journaling prompts will speed your development by encouraging you to find the right words for your experiences—words to make you feel understood by yourself. This journal will help you discover a healthy, sturdy sense of self that is immune to the control of EIPs. The journal’s purpose is to support you in being there for yourself. It will chronicle your journey all in one place, holding a record of your thoughts, and serving as a reference point as you chart your course. You’re about to write your way into an empowered connection with who you truly are and what you want to become.

Lindsay C. Gibson, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist with more than thirty years’ experience working in both public service and private practice. Her books—including the #1 Amazon best seller, Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents—have sold more than a million copies, and have been translated into thirty-four languages. In the past, Gibson has served as an adjunct assistant professor, teaching doctoral clinical psychology students clinical theory and psychotherapy techniques. She specializes in therapy and coaching with adults to attain new levels of personal growth, emotional intimacy with others, and confidence in dealing with emotionally immature family members. Her website is available at www.lindsaygibsonpsyd.com. Gibson lives and works in Virginia Beach, VA.

Sign Up for Our Email List

New Harbinger is committed to protecting your privacy. It's easy to unsubscribe at any time.

Recent Posts

Quick Tips for Therapists