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When in Doubt, Write it Out

Discovering the Write Therapy

There are few things I can think of that have helped me over the years more than simply writing out whatever difficulty was going on for me at any given time. Whether by handwriting, typing, or talk-to-speech it can be so much easier to work through any issue by simply externalizing our thoughts and feelings for our own benefit.

As a counselor, I have studied the therapeutic value of writing for a long time, as well as other forms of creativity. Where some may not have the right words, others will have the right picture or piece of music that can help them get their thoughts out as well.

The trouble with us humans is that our thinking tends to get very circular and self-referential. We can worry and ruminate about the same things over and over, or we can write the thoughts as they come and see them clearly in front of us rather than being caught in their swirl.

This can be great for finding clarity on any decision. If I am debating between two job opportunities I can start free-flowing my thoughts and feelings about them and wait for my intuition to kick in. That is really the key to the whole process; we keep our left brain busy by writing things out as quickly as they come to us, and it gives our right brain a chance to give us creative input that goes beyond worrying and analyzing.

For myself, writing has been a creative or active form of meditation. I let myself breathe and consider what needs to come out, and let my hands do the rest without trying to control the process too much. It can be amazing to look back after a big session of writing; I've caught myself wondering, "Who wrote this stuff anyway?" Since we often have many conflicting points of view and opinions on different subjects we can use the power of our written word to give everything inside us a voice to be heard.

The beautiful simplicity is that often all that is needed is to simply let what's inside us have full expression, just for one moment. Even seemingly dark and negative things will quickly vanish if we let them have their two cents.

Instead of stewing about a resentment or negative interaction from earlier in the day, we can just write out all the unsavory things that come to mind. Whenever I've done this I usually look at what I've written and laugh. I wonder how I could have been so caught up about something so small. When something is rolling around in our minds, it certainly doesn't feel small or insignificant. When we see it typed out or written in front of us, we realize how much vaster we are compared to the comings and goings of our daily lives.

Even things as intense as clinical depression can be greatly alleviated through our writing. As a teenager I was extremely depressed and anxious for long periods of time. I would often sit and just free-flow everything that came to me as fast as I could. Rather than thinking, "I feel depressed" I would see it written as a simple sentence, a line of text on a computer. This allowed me to deconstruct the complexities of my mind and emotional states. Like peeling away an onion I was able to get through layer by layer, even if it meant some tears along the way.

To take this into a practical or more business-oriented level, many of the same ideas apply. People often get wrapped up with what they think other people want to read or find important. It's like saying, "How can I change my writing style to give my audience what I think they want?" The trouble, of course, is that we can never truly know our audience, but we can certainly deepen the knowledge of ourselves.

That's why personal stories and experience are always effective about any given topic. Sometimes people warn us about not being too personal or vulnerable for fear of being rejected. I can honestly say that I have never felt anything negative from being honest with people whether in person or in writing.  In a disconnected culture we crave real connection, and getting raw and honest with our experience is a great way of bridging the gap and helping everyone feel like we are part of a true community.


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When in Doubt, Write it Out
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