Image: El diario de Frida Kahlo. Un íntimo autorretrato. Editorial La Vaca Independiente (2010)

The personal notebook as instrument of self-knowledge

22 | 04 | 2020

Maintaining a personal notebook makes it easier to explore your own reality and your life’s narrative.

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.


—Carl Jung

Our ability to look inward and to contemplate ourselves as we truly are is among the most powerful capabilities at peoples’ disposal. Knowledge of oneself is an ingredient indispensable to the process of personal growth. It’s no coincidence that philosophers, mystics, and sages of nearly every culture have emphasized the importance of the practice.

As to the process of getting to know yourself, fortunately you have multiple tools. One of these is particularly effective and enjoyable: the carrying of a personal notebook. It’s a canvas for capturing reflections, emotions, and creative impulses, a collage, or a few strokes to describe a simple figure, or descriptions of experiences, or a record of the flow of moods. Simply put, a personal notebook is a container within which one deposits portions of oneself until, eventually, it transforms into a mirror serving the contemplation of oneself, and a better self-understanding

The art of cultivating one’s personal mirror

Maintaining a personal notebook has been a habit for thousands of people throughout history. Leonardo da Vinci, Mark Twain, Marie Curie, and Albert Einstein are just some of the characters who were accompanied by a notebook. What did they find in the practice?

An intimate notebook is a fundamentally free space. Therefore, it’s the perfect place to channel creativity and the frank expression of ideas and emotions. It’s an intimate retreat, the perfect place to undo oneself in confidence, to rest one’s masks, and to reconcile with oneself. But the good in a personal notebook doesn’t end there. It serves as a precise vehicle for self-exploration and as an opportunity to edit one’s own narrative. It’s something like a map of one’s own self-conception drawn in real time. So, getting acquainted with your mind, contemplating your own life story, and exploring the corners of your personality are just some of the destinations awaiting those who set out on this adventure.

How to start an intimate notebook and transform it into a personal-growth accelerator 

One of the most endearing examples of a personal notebook is that of Frida Kahlo. The new edition was published in 2017, El diario de Frida Kahlo. Una nueva mirada (The Diary of Frida Kahlo: A New Look). The narrative intensity put into the pages by the artist, coupled with the sensitive sophistication of her real and fantastic worlds, make her diary a testament to the enormous potential of carrying an intimate notebook.   

Part of Kahlo’s diary became the Cuaderno íntimo inspirado en Frida Kahlo, (The Intimate Notebook Inspired by Frida Kahlo).It’s an open invitation to embark on your life’s most important journey and the destination is yourself. Within its pages, which end up being your own, you’ll find the essential coordinates to draw your own map and to make your personal notebook a space for personal renewal and full reconciliation with your own story.

Finally, we must ask you a simple question: are you really willing to explore your own depths? We hope the answer is yes.

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