And I write journals. I've always written journals. In my early years I used to hand write them in tiny, lockable diaries. These days I type them directly onto my computer, and store them in double-password-protected files that no-one will ever be able to crack*. It's incredibly cathartic to write down your feelings and worries, as anybody who has ever committed thoughts to paper will know.
And catharsis is good. Catharsis is great. Catharsis stops us from putting our fist through walls and writing inappropriate things on social media. But to really make changes to our lives we need more than catharsis, and I've found a seriously effective way to use writing for self-help.
My Seriously Effective Way To Use Writing For Self-Help**
Think of a situation or issue in your life that is causing you difficulty. Perhaps you have a conflict with someone significant to you, and you can't figure out how to resolve it. Perhaps you're in a career or relationship rut, and don't know how to move forward. Perhaps you're making the same mistakes over and over, and you don't know why or how to stop. Or perhaps you have a really tough decision to make, and you can't choose one path or the other.
Write it down. Write it all out, in narrative form, from the very beginning, with as much detail as you have time to add. You know...
I've done it again. I've just had the discussion with John and he says he's not interested in getting married and having babies. I don't know how to convince him. I feel hopeless. I know he's the one I want to be with and he says he loves me but he can't commit....
Every day I wake up agonising about whether or not to take the job. On the one hand, it's a massive opportunity. And the money is fabulous. But on the other hand, I love where I am and I'm scared to make a bad decision...
Write it out. And then when you're finished, come back and do this magical thing:
Turn it into the third person.
Give yourself a pseudonym, and then go through your narrative and rewrite it in the third person and in past tense, as if it happened to someone else.
Tammy had done it again. She had the discussion with John and he said he wasn't interested in getting married and having babies. She didn't know how to convince him. She felt hopeless. She knew he was the one she wanted to be with and he said he loved her but he can't commit....
Every day Sue woke up agonising about whether or not to take the job. On the one hand, it was a massive opportunity. And the money was fabulous. But on the other hand, she loved where she was and she was scared to make a bad decision...
Don't re-read it just yet. Put it away for a while. Leave it alone. And then, a couple of days later, go back and read it over. You will be amazed at the difference it makes to read about yourself as if you were reading about someone else. It offers an entirely new perspective. Things become clear that were never evident before. We can be far more objective about other people than we can ourselves, and this tricks our minds into doing just that.
It works. I promise you. Try it and get back to me.
Also, double passwords people. ALWAYS. Double passwords.
*she says, praying
**if this was one of those shonky websites it would open onto a screen allowing you to see my Seriously Effective Way for three easy payments of $129