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With our busy lives, and all the associated stresses and strains, taking the time to sit, examine our thoughts and feelings, and then write about them, can seem like an unjustifiable luxury.
It can also feel a bit scary.
But writing things down has proven therapeutic benefits.
Talking is easier. And people often say that talking things through is beneficial.
But there are significant differences between talking about things and writing them down.
Talking is unstructured and unpredictable. When we start to speak, we don’t really know what we’re going to say next, or how we’ll say it. We just set off with a concept in mind and attempt to express it word by word.
Sometimes we get it wrong. Have you ever had to apologise because you said something in a way you hadn’t intended? Or because you realised afterwards that it could be misunderstood?
It can even be difficult to remember exactly what we’ve said, even if it was only a sentence or two just a moment ago.
Talking is vague and vaporous and unreliable, our words lost in the air the moment they’ve emerged.
Writing is different.
Writing encourages the creation of story and structure. When writing, we can express, examine, edit, revisit and restructure in a way that simply isn’t possible with the spoken word.
The ability to review our writing can help us make sense of things, identify how we feel, and why. And, if it’s what we want, perhaps even work towards a solution or positive change.
Writing requires us to process the complex thoughts and feelings swirling around in our head into language we can understand.
It’s this processing that enables us to gain new insights. And the discoveries and connections we can make as a result are often surprising.
The time commitment for this kind of writing, however small, and the possibility that it could take us to unexpected places, can be intimidating.
People also worry that their private writings will be discovered. That they’ll be embarrassed, ridiculed or their feelings exposed.
But this writing only has to take a few minutes. And the benefits to be gained from turning our complex mental soup into something tangible, something we can act upon, is what makes it such an important practise.
Our lives are made up of stories. Stories others have told us about ourselves. Stories we’ve told ourselves about ourselves.
Because these stories are usually from trustworthy sources, we tend to believe them without question.
But it’s important to recognise that, if we want to, we can change those stories.
You might ask yourself questions. Who am I? Where am I from? Where do I want to go? Who do I want to become?
As you follow the path of discovery, finding questions, answers and more questions in turn, you can write your story.
You can write your life.
All you need is pen and paper.