How many of you write as a release? Write to get the ideas, thoughts, concerns, dreams, wishes, and hopes out of your head and into a format that you can read and reflect upon. Yes, no? Maybe?
For most of my life, I didn’t. I didn’t regularly write out any of the aforementioned. Not because I wouldn’t have found it beneficial, more because I didn’t really know how. Sounds funny. It is true though.
I would tinker with writing here and there, yet never really developed a system to do so. What I realize now is that having a systematic way you write, or enter into any creative process is, at least for me, very helpful.
It is how I can continue to do so. To write through my pain and heal.
I find that writing of any kind, on a whiteboard, in a journal, in a computer document, anything, is very therapeutic. Why? Because you can then study what you are thinking, instead of simply thinking about it.
There is an important distinction here.
If you only ever think about something, you don’t really do anything with it, with the exception of maybe obsessing over it or worrying about it. Which, in the end, does nothing to move you forward as a human being.
What are some of the writing strategies I use to work through my pain and heal?
I have several different ways that I get ideas out of myself and into the world. And, all of them work well. For, it is really less about the strategy, than that you develop the habit of writing through any situation or context that you find yourself in. From pain toward healing.
Here are some strategies I use daily.
Whiteboards – I have three at home, and many at work, which include a complete whiteboard wall in my office. Very helpful. And, yes, there is also pain and healing that happens at work. It’s not just in our personal life that we need a release for our pain, whether that is frustration or some other emotion we are working through. I actually think that it is in the writing, considering, and working through the pain that healing occurs.
Post-its – on the go, these work very well. I will typically then collect them on a piece of paper, or tape them to a larger 2’x3′ post-it, so that I can play with the ideas. See what’s there, and what possibilities I can see for moving forward.
Journaling – I don’t write in a journal as often today, yet it is still a strategy that I recommend. Especially if you are new to writing about your own pain.
Those are the top three I’ve used, and use daily. And, they all work well, and can be used in combination. Example.
I will also tape post-it’s to pieces of paper, and put them on my magnetic whiteboard. Good visual, and easy to move around, and play with.
Why write through your pain to heal?
Because we all need the release. When we hold all of our pain inside, we cannot heal. It will reside within us, and actually make us ill. Not helpful.
Moving forward from pain, especially deep pain, requires visiting that pain often. Understanding it, working on it, and eventually releasing it. Carrying it around is unnecessary, though many people live this way.
Writing opens us up, and is a safe way to get out that which resides within. There are many different ways to write about pain. You can simply write about the pain, or you can create poems, or other stories about the pain.
What matters more than the writing medium you use, is that you provide yourself the opportunity to heal. Very important.
Know also that it takes time to heal. You may write about something that is causing you pain, and not know healing from that pain for some time. For me, it also takes reflecting upon the pain in my writing.
When I can sit and contemplate that pain, I can see more, and have new insights. It is common for me to go back to something I’ve written several times before I can see a pathway to healing. Very normal.
How can you get started?
Start writing. Write on anything and at any time. Get your pain out of you and into the world so you can actually see it, and work on it. Important.
If you leave your pain inside of you, that is where it will always remain. Literally.
Choose times that work best for you, and create a habit of writing often. For it is in the healthy habit that you create to write about your pain often, that you have the best opportunity to know healing from that pain, and all pain.
Developing a healthy writing habit that is honest and reflective of the pain that lives inside of you creates a connection between your mind and your heart. And, it is inside of the connection between the two that all healing lives.
I used to believe that I was my emotions. Confusion. I did not know then, like I am beginning to understand now, that emotions simply happen. They, like thoughts, are a product of the very human stimulus response system.
When something happens in our context, we have a thought about that happening, and that thought will usher in an emotion. That emotion will be a product of the thought pattern, simple.
However simple that seams, people do not always find it simple to understand how their emotions work. Why is this so? Most people are not taught how to understand their emotions. Why? Because their parents or caretakers did not know how to understand their emotions either. A cycle.
And, the cycle is created again each generation. A large part of why the cycle continues, is that people are afraid of their emotions. Then you have, people that are not taught how to understand their emotions, while also living in fear of their emotions. A very difficult combination. I know, I lived in it most of my adult life.
However, what I have come to realize is that we are not our emotions. We are not, then our fear. We have emotions, we have fear, yet we are not those emotions, or that fear.
In order to understand our emotions, as I’ve written in other posts, we have to look at your feelings, and begin to question why we feel the way we do. Not a simple task. In fact, it can be quite painful. However, on the other side of this pain is release.
A release from the suffering, which may manifest itself as resentment, grief, sadness, anger, frustration, or any other feeling, you’ve been holding onto. Looking into these emotions and their associated feelings is a discovery process, which can enlighten us to new ways to understand our own humanity.
I’ve been looking into my emotions for a couple of years now. In this time, I’ve come to realize that there is nothing to fear about our emotions, and those feelings, which often don’t feel so great. When we take the time needed to understand why we feel as we do, we can begin to heal.
Heal from whatever suffering we’ve been holding onto. And, in our healing we create the possibility that those around us can also heal. How is this so? Because as we begin to understand our feelings, we learn about ourselves. And, in our learning, we create a deeper understanding of other people’s suffering.
When we understand other people’s suffering, because we understand our own, we can stand with them. We can give ourselves compassion, and then give compassion to others as well. Realizations like this, and the associated practical work needed to create this realization, also creates a deeper understanding of the human experience, of which having emotions is a part.
I used to think that the human experience was about “being happy,” or finding my purpose. I’ve since come to realize that happiness, and purpose, like our emotions, live within us. Because they live within us, it is our responsibility to understand how they function. Both pain and happiness, and fear.
However, I’ve also come to realize that though we have fear, like anger or frustration, or any other emotion, we are not our emotions. However, when we hold onto an emotion, like fear, what happens? We get more of it, which is why people become confused, as I once did about anger, believing that they are that emotion. No so.
We are no more our emotions, than we are our thoughts. Emotions happen. They are a reaction to our environment, a response. When we understand this as true on an intellectual level, it is helpful. And, when we understand it on a visceral level, it is freedom.
Freedom from the cage we’ve constructed for ourselves. Cages made of fear, anger, frustration, etc. You are not your emotions, and you are not your thoughts. Therefore, dear reader, you are not your fear. You just are. I take great peace in this knowing, and hope that you might too.
As I’ve written about in other posts, my father died last July. Up until that time, the only other real death I had been exposed to was that of my grandparents. Not the same thing, when you have a parent pass away.
The pain that came with my father’s passing was excruciating. Yet, it was necessary and needed for me to feel that pain. I’ve spent the better part of my life running from my emotions. Covering them up with drinking, eating, anything really, to keep the pain at bay. Totally unaware and disengaged.
I read a blog post recently about the benefits of crying by Maja on Lampelina, and it reminded me of the necessity and need to be aware of our emotions, and to feel them, and to release them.
When I was unaware of, and disengaged from my emotions, expect for the ones that I was able to feel and release, such as anger and frustration, I had tons of pent up shame, sadness, and grief. Still do. I am now doing these emotions, which means I cry often.
I know when there is a need within me to cry, because the familiar emotions of anger and frustration will surface, which is the first sign that I am holding onto, not paying attention to, and avoiding my true feelings.
Many people live their whole lives this way. One of the issues with this, outside of the negative health ramifications, is that when we avoid difficult emotions, like shame, sadness, and grief, it keeps us from truly living.
We cannot lead a rich and full life without an awareness of our emotional selves. Further, we must regularly work at, or practice our emotions, and be in touch with them, no matter how painful they are. Actually, the more painful the emotions, the more the need to be in touch with them.
Though I have experienced love throughout my life, it is only now that I can fully experience love in a way that is almost painful. It is cliche to write, you must know love to know loss, and you must know loss to know love. However, it is true. More true than I ever really knew.
Today, on this Memorial Day, I’m thinking about my father quite a bit, reflecting upon the pain that he had and held, which went unprocessed. It fills me with great sadness. Yet, I know it happened as it was supposed to. And, I know that one of his legacies is having a son that is in touch with his emotions today, more than ever before.
That I’ve had the opportunity to learn about and get in touch with my emotions means that I can stand for his grandsons, and help them understand, when they are ready, their emotional selves. This is the essence, for me, of love and loss, and the pain that can come in both.
I have never before known pain that functions this way. Pain that is both healing and transformative. I’ve spent most of my life avoiding pain, and that was my confusion. Because it is through pain that we can receive the greatest gifts of understanding.
We can better understand ourselves, and all of those around us. Today, love and loss, and the pain that comes through both, are more alike to me today than ever before. Though I once avoided my pain, I now welcome it, as I know that the pain I feel through love and loss are needed to live the fullest life possible.