The problem with advice from your closest friends
Have you sought the advice of your closest friends yet still don't know how to move forward or resolve a problem?
In previous articles I have written about the positives and the pitfalls of sharing problems with or seeking advice from friends. Remember that they may be too close to the problem or care too much about your feelings to really be objective. Any advice that they offer you, no matter how well meaning, is likely to be based on their own interpretation of the situation and their own beliefs or opinions.
If you don't feel ready to seek the advice of a therapist, counsellor or coach just yet then a good alternative to sharing your problems is airing them through journalling or writing therapy.
Journaling helps you reduce stress
Journalling is a technique proven to reduce stress and it can also be a great way to order your thoughts and find solutions to any problems you may be facing.
Even 'having a rant' on paper or your computer can get your emotions out safely and leave you feeling much more able to cope and less overwhelmed by the situation. Big problems can seem much smaller once you've aired them, and with journalling you can do this without any fear of repercussions or consequences.
journaling helps you prevent embarrassement and frustration
How often have you been bothered by something, gone over and over it in your head, internalised it for a while, stewed over it and then finally had an outburst that's left you feeling embarrassed or frustrated about not making your point, and quite possibly hurt the feelings of those around you?
With journalling or writing therapy you would get all those disorganised thoughts, feelings, fears and emotions out on paper safely, so that you could get to the point of what you really need to say and then get your views across effectively to others rather than have an explosive argument.
You may even discover that whatever it was doesn't seem so important any more now you have let it out in the open safely, and you can move on in a positive way.
How can just writing something down help?
But how does just writing something down help? Journalling may be more complex, but it works in the same way as writing out your budget or making 'to do' lists. Instead of keeping things inside your head, getting it out onto a page and viewing it in black and white makes it much clearer and more manageable.
There are many variations and other techniques similar to journalling or writing therapy, and they can be used in a number of different ways.
- One popular use of journalling is similar to keeping a diary. Many people use journalling simply as a way of recording their thoughts and feelings, particularly if they are going through a period of change, growth or trauma.
- Some new parents like to record their emotions and thoughts during the early days of parenthood.
- For people who are travelling or exploring the world, a journal is a great way for them to record experiences and feelings that can so easily be forgotten amongst the excitement of new adventures and the eventual return to normality.
How to write morning pages
Julia Cameron, in her book 'The Artists Way', recommends writing what she calls 'morning pages' as a way of unlocking creativity.
- Just write three pages each morning of pure stream-of-consciousness writing to clear your mind and open up your creativity.
I have used this method myself and it definitely works.
It can seem a little odd at first, letting some of the things that you think only to yourself out into the world, but one of the important things about this kind of writing is that it doesn't matter what you have written.You shouldn't read it back, at least not for a while, and you certainly shouldn't let anyone else read it .
Journaling helps you order your thoughts and express your emotions
As I said before, even making lists is a way of ordering your thoughts, your tasks and your time, rather than keeping it all in your head. Writing letters that you never intend to post is also effective therapy for expressing emotions towards people that you are unable to express to them in person. For example, writing to an ex-partner after a break up, or to an abusive adult from your childhood.
Sounds like a great way to clear your mind or work through your problems doesn't it?
So how do you get started? Further reading in my article on how to get started with writing therapy or journalling. I also offer coaching on writing therapy, so please contact me if you would like more information.