March 4, 2014

My Secret Self-Help Tool

Let me tell you, I know therapy. I had therapy for years, and it did me a world of good. And I'm still very much into talking therapy, as my best friends will no doubt wearily confirm. (Also texting therapy, emailing therapy, Twitter Direct Messaging therapy, Facebook Private Messaging therapy....)

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


  1. Oh, I do this a lot! It really works! :)

    Also, how did you know I wasn't interested in marrying Tammy?!!

  2. I've never tried it. Tried real therapy from time to time (eating and weight issues) and it hasn't really completely helped. I used to write Morning Pages - 3 pages of freehand writing first thing in the morning and they were akin to a diary, so I might try that again and try the third-person perspective!

  3. Wow, I love this. Not sure about the double password thing, though. When I write I just hit "publish" and everyone sees it. Oops!

  4. This is a great idea!! Totally trying it. Thanks.

  5. I love this idea and I love the way you always help so many with your magic words.
    You are a very special lady and I appreciate every post I read.Xx

  6. Homemadehouse2013@blogspot.comMarch 4, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    I really like that! Will mentally file it away....

  7. Lana (Sharpest Pencil)March 4, 2014 at 6:47 PM

    You know I love this idea but I will just say it again. Like a double password xx

  8. Always so lovely getting your feedback x

  9. Glad you're going to give it a go!

  10. Give it a go. It's amazing what a difference it can make x

  11. She told me. You're a real heartbreaker, JJ.

  12. Bronnie - MaidInAustraliaMarch 4, 2014 at 9:42 PM

    Pffft. Have done this for years. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it turns into seriously-embarrassed anguished novels that will never be published.

  13. This sounds so interesting I will have to try it next time a tricky situation arises. I have NO idea what a double password is! (Is that a mac thing?)

  14. Kathy www.yinyangmother.comMarch 5, 2014 at 9:00 AM

    Great idea Kerri - I will be trying it for sure. My next line for Tammy would be telling her he wasn't worth it.

  15. I am a total lover of the writing for therapy. It is the main reason I started my blog. BUt I haven't tried the third person idea...I am definitely going to give it a go. ANd yep double passwords!

  16. oh please let me see your Seriously Effective Way for three easy payments of $129, my credit card is ready, willing and hopefully able. Hello Kerri!

  17. Genius... I would be so much more understanding of someone else who was being as daft as I am... what a great idea for finding perspective... actually maybe I would read my third person and think: 'What a dope, she just needs to get a grip??!!"

  18. 26 Years & CountingMarch 19, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    I wrote out my confused brain spew the other day. It really helped. It got it out, I blogged about a few things that people don't talk about much (and found others have similar) and it basically cleared the cobwebs out and I feel so much clearer for it. Writing is wonderful.


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