Investigations In: Writing as Therapy
edited: Monday, October 20, 2003
By Lillian Sara Cauldwell
Posted: Monday, October 20, 2003
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Writing as Therapy is an altnerate route to your mental and emotional health.
"I can't stand it! One more day and I'm gonna tell my boss off!"
Sound familiar? Or maybe, it isn't the boss, but public transportation that left you feeling grey and downtrodden. Whatever emotional outburst that you had to suppress, have you ever thought about picking up a pen and paper-or using the dustry computer sitting on your hutch waiting for some action?
Most people don't think of writing as a therapy...but, I do. People in rehabilitation are put into art therapy or music therapy, but somehow, the counselor or therapist stops short of putting sharp writing tools in the hands of their patients. Maybe, they should give it a try. They might be surprised at how much heat, passion, anger, frustration one can vent on to a piece a paper or on a computer or table cloth or napkin.
I have found that when I work in the real world, there are plenty of things that enrage me: drivers cutting me off, crossing a double yellow line, flying through an intersection when the red light goes on, honking, finger gesturing; these are all types of frustration levels that I don't need to bring into the office, bring home with me or pass it along to my spouse and my kids. They've gvot their own scheduled tantrums to throw.
At work, during a break, or at lunch, I pull out my trusty pad and write down how I felt with lots of exclamation points. After I'm finished, I shred the evidence into tiny pieces or take it outsite the building and put it in the car ashtray, or drop it into the garbage can where no prying eyes can scotch tape it together like a giant puzzle.
I keep a journal and write down the facts. Sometimes you may need this daily journal to back you up when your boss plays his games. It's all there in black and white. No one can dispute it. Also, the journal provides a hidden advantage. After six months, go back and skim what you've written. Do you see any iimprovements in how you now handle your anger as compared when you first jotted down those emotions? Have you learned how to take control of the situation when it became insurmountable? This kind of therapy journal writing is considered your suit of armor from uttering those nasty (you can't take back when angered) words.
The other advantage to this journaling is when you're at work, you might learn how to do your job better so that you encounter less unpleasant confrontations. The other 'environmental' elements you can't control, so learn to write them down and out of your life.
At home, when I have a "bad hair day," I take a colored pen and pour out my feelings on to the page. Or bang at the computer keyboard with two fingers striking out at the keys. This helps tremendously to relieve your pent-up feelings. When I see what I've written, I can tear it up and throw it away or stick it to the refrigerator door to make me feel better and laugh at my silliness of allowing someone else to gain control over me.
Instead of flinging dishes, yelling at the dog or kids, slamming doors or getting into a fight with your husband (misery loves company), try writing it down first and see if it doesn't help. I've noticed that before I answer any e-mail, I write down what I want to say. I cross out all the curses and inappropriate words and tone down my "voice" (you catch more flies with honey). By the time the recipient recieves that e-mail, its polite and logical instead of angry and belligerent. You don't want to rub people's faces it it, you want to catch their attention and make sure they're paying attention to you without anyone losing or getting even more resentful.
Throw the pillow at the wall, smash it on the bed, curse your landlord in your own apartment, tell yout boss to get lost, but write down everything before you say it. The life or job that you save might be your own.