Tools to Heal - Part Five: Writing For Health
At the beginning of this year, I felt lost and confused. I hated my job and was exhausted all the time, I was bitter and resentful, and I felt like I was running in circles. But then I turned to one of the biggest things that have always helped me cope: writing.
It was Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way that reminded me of the immense power of writing. In her book, she encourages us to write three pages, stream-of-consciousness style, as soon as we get up to unload all the thoughts in our mind and get clarity. It turned out I had a lot to unload.
(Stream of consciousness is a writing technique in which you let your thoughts flow from your mind to the page without filtering or editing anything, expressing everything as it comes to mind).
Within weeks, morning pages brought to the surface all the things I needed to accept, change or deal with in any way. They pointed me in the right direction as I saw the life I was living was not the life my soul was calling for. Page after page I let all the negativity pour out of me onto the paper, and soon I started feeling lighter.
I kept many journals as a child. Every day I wrote about things that angered or saddened me, things I desired and things I wanted to get rid of. It was a daily cathartic process. I also wrote poems, stories and other things that are hard to classify. I made sense of the world by transforming feelings and experiences into words. And once the words were out of me I felt comforted, at peace.
I’ve written all my life but less frequently in the last years, and that showed in my stress levels and overall happiness. If you’re feeling stressed and unhappy and have no idea which way to go in life, I recommend you write. Pour your frustrations onto the page and let your true desires come to the surface.
I’ll often talk about writing in this blog, but for now, let me give you a few simple tips:
- Whenever you find yourself going down the rabbit hole in your mind, take out a journal or a piece of paper and just let it all out. Don’t censor your thoughts, don’t judge them, just express them as you feel them. Don’t worry about grammar and punctuation, don’t even worry about making sense. This is for you.
- If you decide to give morning pages a try, you’ll find some days there is nothing you want to write about. Write anyway, even if it’s boring, even if it’s meaningless. Sooner or later you will feel like your hand is moving on its own and the deep stuff will come up.
- After journaling for months I’ve developed some sort of structure that might help you too: Start unloading the heavy thoughts, whine, complain… and when you feel you’re done, empower yourself: Are these thoughts true? Then, what can you do about it? And finish with gratitude. Not everything in your life can be bad. What’s working? What are you grateful for?
- Sometimes we hold resentment towards people who have hurt us in the past and it can be helpful to express that resentment in a letter. This letter is not for that person, but for yourself. It’s a way of taking it out of your system. If you do this, eventually you’ll be able to come to terms with what happened and forgive them.
- If you experience conflicting thoughts (i.e. a part of you wants something but another part wants the opposite), you can use writing to gain clarity. Give each part a name and then write down a dialogue. Each part will defend their idea and you’ll find it easier to side with one, or perhaps you’ll come up with a middle ground or even discard both ideas. (Don’t worry, more options will come).
I hope this post inspired you to give writing a try! And if you already write, I hope you got some new ideas from it.
This is the end of my Tools to Heal series. When I started it I wanted to explore the topics I’m most interested in, the tools that have helped me in one way or another throughout my life. I tend to not finish the things I start so, yay, here’s to challenging old patterns!
I hope this series was of benefit to you because nothing makes me happier than helping others through my words. Love and strength to you, wherever you are.