Do you remember that childhood memory when you used to keep your small diary hidden under your mattress or deep inside the cupboard? That diary was the safest place where you used to confess your fears and flaws without being punished or judged, whether it was eating that extra chocolate without sharing it with your siblings or about your first crush or about your fear of math tests or when you lied out of fear of scolding.
Writing down all those things was merely a habit for you, but its impact was miraculously powerful. Didn’t you feel light-hearted after writing down the things you couldn’t share with others? It was like getting something off one’s chest.
Now, as you are grown up, you might not be using a diary, but if you are, it’s really good for you. Do you know why? Because in today’s fast-paced world, it is normal to feel a little down or stressed out more often than before. Recently, due to a pandemic, our mental health was at stake. Many of us have experienced anxiety, depression, grief, loss, and so much more, and sometimes it becomes quite hard to get back to the normal situation.
So, how do you keep yourself moving on from such life experiences?
Many people seek a therapist’s help. Some prefer to add a change in their life by moving to a new place, starting a new job, etc., while the creative people prefer to engage in their favorite art, whether it is music, dancing, painting, or pottery.
So, there are different ways people use to heal themselves. But do you know your diary writing habit is also used as a therapy to move forward from unfavorable experiences? Yes, it’s called writing therapy or journaling.
Writing therapy is a form of expressive therapy. It helps you put your thoughts and feelings, which you might find hard to say, on paper. It is also guided by many therapists.
This form of writing is usually personal, emotional, and informal. You do not have to be a writer to write a therapeutic journal. You do not even have to pay attention to your writing style, grammar, or spelling, you just have to write.
James W. Pennebaker, an American social psychologist, developed an expressive form of writing. He suggested that expressive writing can boost your immune system. Also, routinely engaging in expressive writing can reduce the symptoms of depression.
Thus, writing therapy has the potential to heal mentally. Also, it helps you to work on your emotions, thoughts, feelings, and it teaches how to express yourself.
Likewise, Ted Hughes said something similar shortly before he published Birthday Letters, an 88-poem book to his late wife, Sylvia Plath. He said, “Writing is trying to take fuller possession of the reality of your life–to attack it and attack it and get it under control.”
Thus, the idea to put down your thoughts is surely more than just writing–it’s healing, therapeutic, self-developing, and even life-saving.
Remember, when writing a letter, you should have to be true to yourself, true to your feelings, and your emotions. Keep in mind your main goal is to move on, to put an end to this chapter. This should be like a goodbye letter to your problem and hence you have to be true, raw, and crude.
Your letter can be an unshared personal exercise or you can use it in your therapy as well. Rereading the same letter in different stages of therapy can give you a new perspective for finding a solution to it and also prepare you for handling such situations in the future.
Also, once you are done with your writing and if you don’t want to revisit the experience, it’s better to burn the letter. Because rereading the letter means reliving the moment, which you don’t want to do. Hence, for your mental peace and safety, it’s better to burn the letter. Also, burn anything which has been left inside you related to that experience.
Remember, it’s your letter whether an unsent or shared with someone. You have full freedom to write it the way you want. By writing a letter, you create a sense of empowerment and control over your life and with that you choose to grow rather than be stuck with the past disappointments.