12 Jul Writing For Healing? Does It Work?
Writing For Healing… Does It Work? After the death of my first husband Donald I tried writing about my experience, including what I was feeling, because I was told it would be helpful and make me feel better. However, I didn’t get that result. It made me feel worse. Because of my experience I decided that journaling was not my thing. So I stopped writing. Fast forward seventeen years and I stumbled across new research that supports writing for healing. What did I miss? You just have to know how to do it.
How do you do it? First, we need to talk about our thinking. When you only think about the pain and the sadness that you are feeling and what was lost, day after day after day… without redirecting your thinking forward at some point, the result is feeling stuck in the middle of sadness and grief. (Known as a Thinking and Feeling Loop. We share more information about the Thinking and Feeling Loop and how it works in our book Grieving Forward Death Happened, Now What? on page 79.)
The same thing happens with writing. When you only write about the pain and sadness and what you have lost, day after day after day… the result is that your personal healing process stalls keeping you stuck in your grief emotions and a writing and feeling loop of sadness and pain.
The remedy is to redirect your thoughts and writing forward. This is done by writing about how you are feeling and adding in words that describe how these feelings are changing you. Include what you are learning, how you are growing and how you can use what you are learning to help and encourage someone else. Include future goals. Dream a little. This is difficult at first, but it is possible. You will know when you are ready to give it a try.
Day One: Share your story on paper. Include your raw emotions. Don’t hold back. Let it rip.
Day Two: Write your story again. Let it rip again. However, this time also write about what you are learning and how it is changing you for the better.
Day Three: Write your story again. Include what you are learning and how it is changing you. Push yourself even more forward in healing by writing down a few future goals that you have for yourself. For example, taking a class or booking a trip. Future focused ideas are key.
Repeat as many times as you need to. Limit your time to around 30 minutes for each session.
Give yourself permission to use writing for healing—and keep writing!