Therapy. It doesn’t come cheap. And even if it did, if you’re a bit of an introvert like myself then you’d rather keep things, well, introverted? Being an introvert doesn’t mean you have to keep your feelings bottled-up and neither does not being able to afford a therapist.
The solution? Be your own. You’d be surprised how many answers to your own questions you already know. Through writing, you can solve problems, set and achieve goals and improve your communication skills- plus a whole lot more.
Writing down our thoughts and feelings is cathartic, this emotional- purging is a way of eliminating our minds of emotions that don’t serve us. But by seeing our thoughts, we can understand them more clearly, gain control of our emotions and ultimately improve our overall mental health.
You don’t even have to think of yourself as a writer, you don’t have to create a beautifully scripted piece of writing-just write from your heart. Below are six simple but powerful steps to help you gain a better understanding of your emotions through what’s called- therapy-writing.
- Communication. How many times a day do you ask someone how they are? Whether it’s a quick “hi, you ok?” on the school run, a phone call to check in on a loved one, or asking your children or partner how their day was. We ask it because we care, because we want to communicate with those we love. We want to find out how they are feeling.
Now how many times have you asked yourself if you’re ok? It might sound a little silly at first but not when you look a little closer. Asking yourself if you are ok is just as much, if not more important than asking anyone else if they’re ok, especially when you’re struggling with stress, depression and anxiety. Write how you are feeling.
- Honesty. Are you honest with yourself? It’s a tough question and for most of us the answer is no, while others are probably pondering what being honest with themselves actually means. Humanity strives for perfection and this can sometimes make it harder for us to address the truths in our lives.
But your thoughts are real reflections of your inner-self and having a personal and confidential space to offload how you feel will allow you to do so in an honest and authentic way. As Sigmund Freud once said, “Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.” So when you write, be open and honest.
- Identifying the issues and problems that have caused or triggered you to feel the way you are feeling are vital in being able to plan and move forward. Seeing your thoughts on paper or your computer screen, will help you to identify any current or past events that have made you feel the way you describe.
This could mean writing down a childhood memory where you had similar feelings, or making a list of the things you are worried about which has caused your emotions. It’s a way of connecting how you feel with the thing that is making you feel that way.
- Acceptance. Accepting how you feel and why you feel that way is a huge part of being able to move on. Recognising your feelings is healthy and understanding what is causing them is important in moving forward. Often when we have an uncomfortable feeling we sweep it under the rug or shunt it to the back of our minds but ultimately, that feeling will remain.
So rather than push away your emotions, learn to accept them, this is far better than avoiding them and it actually tends to lose its destructive power once that acceptance takes place. Accepting your emotions means that you practice allowing your emotions to be what they are without judging them.
- Learning. This is the exciting part. Once you’ve accepted your emotions, you are accepting your truth. This means that you don’t have to spend your energy pushing your emotions away. Now it is acknowledged, you are giving yourself a chance to learn about it, become familiar with it, become mindful of its management and integrate it into your life.
This is something that avoiding emotions cannot do, because you cannot learn to do something by not doing it. With acceptance, you learn to pursue the behaviours that are aligned with your goals and values.
- Setting goals. This is the result of what you have learnt through accepting the emotions you communicate honestly with yourself. It’s probably likely that your goal is that you want to feel better. But to feel better you have to be actively engaged in your emotions rather than a passive target for them. This means to feel better, your goals could be to correct irrational thinking, build self reliance, make peace with what you can’t control, learn coping techniques or increase your understanding of anxious feelings and triggers.
Writing when feeling anxious or depressed is a way to begin to build skills as well as a coping mechanism to overcome bouts of anxiety, stress and depression. However, it is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional or psychological advice. Always consult with your doctor about your personal health and wellness.