Writing can help us remember the important stuff
Clients often talk about feeling confused and 'messed up' when they come for therapy. Recalling events can be difficult. Things seem hazy and putting the past in order can be hard. The good news is that the act of writing can help us remember. So writing our thoughts and feelings down may help bring our memories into focus - and when this happens we may give ourselves a better chance of understanding what is troubling us. Up until this point we may not have been able to identify what patterns of behaviour have served us well - and those which have not been that useful.
As a therapist I encourage clients to write. It is one way to begin to work out why relationships don't seem to be working or why difficult emotions seem to dominate our everyday living - to name but two.
It seems that writing things down helps us to remember the important stuff. And what can be more important than clearing our heads so that we can work towards a more positive and rewarding future?
The process of writing about how we feel starts before we write. To some extent we put some thought in what we are going to write. We are actively thinking about it. We are ordering it into a certain way (pros and cons, positive and negatives, consequences). It is a process which is helping us to make sense of our muddled thoughts. It is the physical process of writing that is helping us to do this.
I sometimes explain to clients that as far as the brain is concerned, writing seems to act as a mini-rehearsal for the doing. In this way it can probably help with anxiety. An acknowledgement of our feelings of uncertainty and hopefully, a step towards feeling less fearful and more in control.
Being able to visualise how we see our future may trick the brain into thinking about actually doing something. This could explain why the physical act of writing is more effective in terms of helping us sort our thinking rather than use a computer..
Above all, we don't need to be good at English to write things down; if we struggle with writing, symbols will do just as well. It's the process of getting something down on paper which is key to helping us get our thoughts in perspective.
We can then begin to plan how we going to set about sorting out what is troubling us.
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