Some time ago, I took a workshop on the healing qualities of journaling, and it made a great impact on me.
I remembered that as a teenager, I had a secret journal where I would write my feelings and thoughts. Later in life, in moments of conflict, I used to write letters to a loved one, mainly to put my thoughts in order and/or to communicate them accurately. And now I use writing as an emotion-release tool. In fact, I had been using writing all along (without realizing its positive effect.)
The fact and the matter is, when we write, we put our thoughts in “raw” format, writing is a direct way to express ourselves, just as other forms of art can be, such as: painting, dancing, playing music, etc. Writing can be revealing of our deepest truths and feelings.
Writing is therefore a great way to look inward and a great outlet for negative emotions, let alone the fact that it helps us put things into perspective and discover unseen issues that are affecting our well-being.
“We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.”
– C. Day Lewis, The Poetic Image.
I had in fact, a revealing experience at the workshop. As I was following the presenter’s instructions, I started writing non-stop and without thinking; the words were flowing from my pen and I suddenly started crying… my written words were giving me an answer to something that was creating a lot of pain and stress in my life, and that I had fail to see before (or had refused to see…).
The moment I wrote the words, I felt calmer, lighter and relieved; the fact of finallyknowing what the problem was, made me feel a lot better. This experience really impacted me.
People at the workshop also shared their experience with journaling. There was a lady that had used journaling all throughout her life as an outlet for her negative emotions and she explained how it had helped her be a better mother; she would put into paper all those distressful emotions she felt as a mom, so that they wouldn’t come out as “negative reactions” directed at her children. She said she rarely re-read her diaries, but she always felt calmer after writing.
She also mentioned something very important: she was aware that what she wrote did not reflect who she was, only her emotions at the time she wrote. This is true, we are NOT our emotions, we are much better than that, no matter how horrible our thoughts and feelings may seem, they do not reflect who we are, they only reflect how we feel at any given time, it is good to keep this in mind.
Writing is a great tool, used also by many therapists in order to help people focus, reflect on themselves and their current situations, analyze problems, feel better, stay calmer, etc .
Looking back, I realize that keeping a diary as a teenager was a very important practice and, quite common amongst my peers at the time. Teenagers often face emotional turmoil, insecurity, anxiety, etc. which can make them very vulnerable; keeping a diary may help them channel their emotions by giving them an outlet for them, as well as establishing some distance with them, and therefore some perspective on them.
Anyway, my point is that everybody can use writing as a tool for feeling better, staying calmer, managing conflict, etc.
If you are interested in trying this out, remember that, as with any other practice, the key isdoing it! It is not enough to know about it or believe in its efficiency, the only way to take advantage of its benefits is by actually practicing it!
I can’t stress this enough, because most of us may find great tools or practices, but making the commitment to devote time to them on a regular basis is a whole different thing…
So try to set some time aside to write; it can be 5, 10, 30 minutes, it can be twice a day, every day, every other day, once a week, whatever works, but commit to it!! If you are experiencing any negative feelings, do it as much as you can.
You can just write in a diary format, but here are some cool ideas that you may want to try:
This is a timed, non-stop writing. You write non-stop for about 3 minutes, about anything! (use a timer, so that you are not constantly watching the clock), Then, look at your text, and circle 3 words, the first ones that catch your attention, then write those 3 words, make them into a phrase and write again non-stop for another 3 minutes (this is the exercise that revealed my issue at the workshop), the key is to write non-stop to allow things to flow without your thought process interfering.
Ask yourself what is coming into your life right now? and write about it without giving much thought to it, and then ask what is leaving your life now? and write about it, in the same way as before.
Pick a Topic or Question
Pick a personal topic or question and write about it, example: “I am obsessed with…” or “What I need now is…”
If you have a little time, do a meditation/visualization exercise, close your eyes and picture yourself facing your 16-year-old self and have a conversation with him/her, ask your younger self whatever you want and listen to the answers. Then do the same but with your 95-year-old self. Then write the conversations, mainly what they said to you. You can work with a specific issue that you need advice or guidance for.
Write a Letter
If you have issues that bother you, related to another person, you can write them a letter, it can be someone with whom you are not able to communicate for whatever reason, whether it is because you are in conflict with them, or you lost communication with them, or you lost touch with them, etc. It does not matter, just write them a letter. You may want to send the letter to that person, or not, either way it’s OK.
You can also write a letter to yourself, or write a letter from your body to you!
Recapture a Memory
Recapture a memory and write about it, pick a happy memory if you want to bring happiness to the moment, or an unhappy one if you still need to process it.
Gratitude List and Wish List
If anything, just write a list of the things you have and are grateful for, and a list of those things you would like to have, in a wish list format.
Here below are other ideas just for the fun of writing and for the sake of awakening your creativity!
Have somebody write or tell you a word, ANY word, and write about it. You can also open a book or dictionary randomly and pick a word, but the best is a word that you did not choose yourself! Just write about it!, you can time it.
This is one of my favorites, pick a word or name and create an alpha poem with it.
Make up a story about an imaginary life, a parallel life you would like to live.
So take out your pen and paper (or your computer if you prefer), and off you go, into the magic of the written “world”.