26 April 2013

S is for Self-Preservation and Sharing

by B. Lynn Goodwin

Wouldn’t it be great to have a place where you could rant, vent, process, analyze, evaluate, and discover hope?

If therapy is too expensive and support groups are not working, try something else. Relieve stress and find hope by journaling.

James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D. pioneered research in writing as a healing tool. He has found that “writing about emotional upheavals in our lives can improve physical and mental health.” Do not underestimate its power.

Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D., who is the author of How to Be Your Own Therapist has said, “The effort of putting something down on paper forces you to really consider what you're writing and in that simple act, you begin to think more about the content.” Even the act of writing a “to-do” list can be more effective than thinking about what you need to do.

A journal can be a simple record of daily events. It can also be a place to look at your thoughts, feelings, reasoning, and reactions to those events. It’s a place to dig deeply, when you want to, but it’s also a safe place to simply tell your story without interruption or contradiction.

Journaling offers perspective. It restores the emotional balance. In addition to being a record, my journal is a place to:

  • vent
  • imagine and record my journey
  • sharpen my craft, and figure out what I really mean to say
  • find story ideas
  • make lists and cross off what I accomplish
  • record my reflections

I write my journals in longhand. I like the smooth flow of a pen on paper. I like the progress of moving from left to right, line after line, traveling down one page and on to the next. The rhythm of longhand soothes me.

Here are a few other reasons to journal:

  • I write to share
  • I write to pull out secrets locked in place in my brain
  • I write to see what happens if I release my private truths
  • I write gratitude lists to feel better

When you write in your journal, it can be all about you. The journal validates your worth. There is no wrong way to keep a journal. Go wherever an image takes you. Explore fearlessly. 

Not sure how to start? You’ll find encouragement, instructions, and over 200 "sentence starts" in You Want Me to Do What? (ISBN# 978-1-60696-297-8).Though the subtitle is Journaling for Caregivers, journaling is for everyone. Jot your ideas down, using whatever "sentence starts" appeal.  Come back later, if you want, and continue the piece, or move on.

Writing saves lives. Get out of your own way and just do it. Your truths are dying to come out. 

Though it does not always seem like it, journals have the power to pull you off the hamster wheel of obsession and into action. They are a safe place to heal. Healing does not wipe out old problems or past actions. It washes over them, helping you to cope, change your attitude, and move forward.

Heal your spirit by writing in a journal. You never know where an entry might take you.

B. Lynn Goodwin is the author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers, available on Amazon. Her stories and articles have been published in Voices of Caregivers; Hip Mama; the Oakland Tribune; the Contra Costa Times; the Danville Weekly; Staying Sane When You’re Dieting; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; Career; We Care; Thickjam.com, Friction Literary Journal, and The Sun

A former teacher, she conducts workshops and writes reviews for Story Circle Network, and InspireMeToday . She’s working on a YA novel and brainstorming a memoir. She’s the owner and editor of Writer Advice, which is in its 15th year.

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