Everybody loves a good story.
So wouldn’t it makes sense that you be an active participant in your own?
Writing down our thoughts, feelings and ideas can help us string together seemingly mundane moments into meaningful insights and realizations. And from that, we can start to take charge of pieces of our lives we didn’t even realize we were simply allowing to happen to us.
How often does it happen that we engage in the act of writing passively? We write an e-mail to a friend or a text telling somebody when we’ll be home, and we don’t think much about it. And how many activities do we have in our lives that are like that? That put us on auto pilot? A staggering number of people report to switching to autopilot even as they drive. Yikes. But imagine how beneficial it would be if we could take these often overlooked tasks, and bring meaning back to them. Bring mindfulness, and the ability to be present. Well engaging with writing does just that.
As one article in Psychology Today states, writing about our lives and our problems can take us from simply being a character in our story, to the actual author.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve written down the events of a dream, which in my memory seem completely disjointed, and upon writing out the details I notice the intricate connections. It’s through writing that I receive the message my subconscious was trying to send.
So when should we write?
- When I’m overwhelmed by what I’m feeling, writing down what I call a “barf draft” where I just get everything out is incredibly cathartic.
- When I feel wronged by a person I know will never understand my view, I write them a letter. Or, in order to facilitate a more compassionate response on my part, I’ll write a piece about the situation from the other person’s point of view. Whether it’s actually how they feel or not is irrelevant. With these types of exercises all that matters is that you’re taking the situation into your own hands. You’re acting. You’re forcing a change, a resolution of some sort, even if it’s only internal.
- When I feel alone, I write to connect to the characters in my stories, and the people whom I hope will read them one day.
- When I’m angry, I’ll write out one of my ‘Fuckit’ lists, detailing all the things that I just decide to say ‘fuck it’ to for the day. That one’s always in black or red ink and ends up taking up quite a few pages. I try to write without thinking for these, and often the same thing comes up a few different times on the page. So while this might just begin as a way of releasing some pent up frustration, it evolves into a road map of where there is more work to be done.
- When I’m inordinately happy, I write it down. Doesn’t it just make sense to have something you can re-read and re-experience when you’re having a bit of a time and need that reminder? A picture’s worth a thousand words, but in the absence of a camera… a pen and paper ought’a do it.
Writing allows us the freedom to express ourselves fully and honestly, as nobody ever has to see it but us. It’s another practice, like yoga and meditation, that offers us the opportunity to go within.
People have been participating in the healing and self-reflective art of writing for ages, and we’ll continue to do it for as long as words are a part of everyday life. It’s my hope, however, that we’ll start to do it in conjunction with yoga and meditation, because when utilized in tandem, they have the power to help us find flow, in our bodies, and on the page.
Click here to see how I’m making that happen!