If you’re freaked out, confused, hurt, angry or just depressed, writing can potentially be a cure-all. Writing can come in handy during those times when your friend may have said something that suddenly made you so over-the-top defensive, but neither one of you are sure why. Or, you might be feeling incredibly insecure and overly preoccupied with an awkward social exchange you encountered in the morning. Perhaps you’re not scheduled to see your therapist for another week, but you’re facing that familiar sense of panic and you’re not sure why. Maybe you feel down-hearted, depressed and unlucky. Maybe you just feel like venting.
Writing as a form of self-expression and self-relief can provide insight and bring us closer to the inner peace we are looking for. Rochelle Melander explains for Psychology Today, “[Psychologist, James Pennebaker] discovered that people who use writing to make sense of their traumatic life experiences felt happier and less anxious. Through the studies, Pennebaker found that those who made meaning out of their difficulty or gained insight from writing were healthier than those who simply wrote about the details of their day” (Heal By Writing About Your Trauma).
I’m a writer who lets her words and thoughts float about the air for the world to see, but I also have my private journal. This is where the healing began for me three years ago.
5 Writing Prompts To Get The Healing Started
1. Write out a list of everything that’s bothering you, all your feelings, concerns and underlying anxieties. Then, write down all the facts of your situation. Many times, separating your feelings from facts is much easier in the form of writing rather than thinking. Facing these facts without any rationalization or distortion can provide the answers you need. You may find that you are ridden with unnecessary worry once you see the actual progress you’ve made. Or, you may find that you have been in a state of utter denial and really do need to change something.
2. Write down five things you’re grateful for everyday. This imposes a positive mindset within yourself.
3. Rant and ramble. Woo Boy! There’s some journal entries from 2012 that scare me when I see them. I don’t even need to read them to know how I was feeling. There’s a few pages where things are scratched out, words are written in all caps (a few bad words thrown in there), giant question marks hang around like vultures. As mortified as I would be if any of these pages made it out into the world, I don’t regret having written them. Letting out some of the pain onto the page helped heal trauma (just as wounds need to be cleaned).
4. If you’re confused about why you’re feeling a certain way, write down the events of your day with specific details along with the changes in your emotional states. Examine, make connections and note any patterns. After analyzing the event or incident that really bogged you down, without the weight of your emotional thoughts, you are more likely to find answers.
5. Describe your situation on this exact date five or ten or however many years ago. Are you in a better place now? This can bring out positive light, igniting self-appreciation and awareness of personal gains. Or, perhaps there are elements of the past that might help you today? You might find that your old habit of taking a walk every evening is just what’s missing from your day; maybe you’d rather be single like you were back then. Who knows. But writing can help you figure it out.
Do you have a journal? How often do you write in it? Is it helpful?
I’m so pleased to announce that three of my poems, “Slots,” “Scraping” and “Make a Decision” have been published in Barking Sycamores Literary Magazine Issue 13. Barking Sycamores is dedicated to neurodivergent literature and its craft. I’m so honored to be a part of this project. Barking Sycamores Issue 13
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