Have you had a period of time where you just couldn’t get yourself to do anything? You just feel so down, uninterested in life, or the things, hobbies that you used to enjoy? Well, I certainly have. I feel emotions more than other people do, sometimes it is as if my world has gone on a roller coaster, emotions flying up and down, seemingly a never-ending roller coaster…
Well, during these intense emotional roller coaster(s) of mine, I find nonetheless the developed hobby of mine, writing, therapeutic. It is an unconscious process, in which it has power and the capability to lift a little of that awful, terrible and persistent mood, allowing some streak of light to shine through the dark clouds that loom over my head.. What I would love to share here is that as I write, on a piece of paper, no matter what kind of paper, may it be..
I find solace during the process,
despite the extremely pessimistic, depressing, disconcerting and painful content of the writing.
As I feel more and more present and aware,
the bugging and disturbing roller coaster
Calmness and peacefulness take over.
WHY & HOW were the two questions I asked myself… With a calmer and more rational mind, I figured / realised the following
Why and How this works can be answered by
It’s an Action!
Rather than doing what I always do, i.e. resting on the bed, thinking non-stop, losing control over my thoughts, letting it run Auto-Pilot by itself. I decided to sit up and get to my working desk. Because of this act of courage in the midst of sadness and despair, it led me to start writing.
This reminds me of CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, a technique I used to do as self help. A little introduction on this psychological intervention. It’s a therapy that can be done by yourself (DIY), which includes identifying irrational/negative/pessimistic/unhelpful thoughts and replacing them with more rational/positive/optimistic/helpful thoughts. Then plan an Action/Behaviour to help yourself change your condition, i.e. any difficult situation you’re in and lastly, DO it.
Although Writing is NOT at all similar to CBT as it skipped the thought identifying-and-changing processes and jump straight to action, the idea of ACTION — is that doing something or getting started with something, often requires more effort than THINKING. Plus, action requires a person to consciously pay attention to the thing that he/she is doing or intending to do. On the other hand, thinking is a process that can run fast (racing thoughts), go hay wired easily (as we focus too much in the thoughts) or go Auto-Pilot (non-stop which often causes insomnia). In my case, getting out of a self destructive thought and emotional process, required another process, a writing process, which is just about writing every single detail of what I think, feel, any desires, wants, needs, hopes, dreams, literally everything that comes to mind, no matter positive or negative. Through the writing process, the negative emotions and thoughts are at the same time PROCESSED.. Hence, it is therapeutic, or close to it.
However, for all these to work, Intent must be there. The intention to actually start off with something / do something will lead you to success.
One other thing that may contribute to the level of effectiveness of writing as a therapeutic tool probably is the presence of love for writing that comes with reading… For instance, an avid reader have higher chances of developing the interest, willingness and spontaneity to write, compared to a less keen reader.
I am a person who loves to write, freely that is. So this worked for me. My challenge for you is, Try it Out, when you feel necessary.. If it works for you, it’s FREE.
Here are some links you may be interested in:
Writing about Emotional Experiences as a Therapeutic Process by James W. Pennebaker (American Psychological Society 1997)