Sunday, December 14, 2014

Writing Heals

Photo credit: on flickr
Gone are the days of flowery prose and heartfelt missives. Gone are the days where we shared our successes, our sadness, and day to day occurrences in letters.  I guess the closest thing we have today are Christmas newsletters, Christmas cards, and an occasional Hallmark.
Writing letters is a lost art. This loss was felt by a dear friend's father-in-law and he took action. He writes beautiful letters to his grandsons and gives them a crisp two dollar bill when they write back. Grandpa Joe is a generous man and included my son in the arrangement as Mack has no living grandparents of his own. I was surprised by Mack's letters; they were thoughtful, descriptive, and funny.

I understand the value of writing. It has tremendous healing power. Whether I'm writing in my journal, writing a letter, writing a blog post, or spending some time verse mapping, writing has has proven to be soothing and restorative.
  • Writing allows me to sort out and make sense of troubling experiences. It gives me a place to express myself freely, without fear of reprisal or contention.
  • When I'm uncertain about a difficult decision I've found writing an excellent way of outlining my pros and cons.  When I see in black and white how one outweighs the other, my options become clearer and my decision easier to make.
  • Thoughts are directly linked to feelings and ultimately behavior. Expressing my thoughts on paper allows me to see how those thoughts yield emotional responses. Why I feel a certain way based on a certain thought becomes very clear and then manageable. 
  • Writing helps organize me.  That's why I am so dependent on lists.  Yes, I'm the person who adds an item to a list after it has been completed just so I can cross it off!
  • I have kept a journal of sorts since I was ten years old. Looking back at my writing I can see how I have changed and grown. I have watched my handwriting change, my style, my intent. What a wonderful way to see my metamorphosis!
  • At times I have had to have difficult conversations. In those instances I write down my talking points and refer to them while speaking thus keeping my mind focused in an emotionally charged situation. It sounds crazy, but it works.
  • I read somewhere (and I wish I remember where) that writing can be viewed as a source of meditation; when I write my breathing slows and my mind clears.
  • I have turned to writing in moments of anger and frustration. Writing my rage was a way of 
    photo credit: Sebastien Wiertz on Flickr
    venting without being hurtful or confrontational. I was also able to make sense of my feelings and determine whether such strong emotion was warranted! In those instances I was able to throw my writing away and move away from the event.
  • Writing gives me a purpose, a forum for sharing my experience and dreams. 
  • Writing using "I" statements has become one of the most powerful exercises I have done. By phrasing statements using "I" instead of "we," "you," or "our" personalizes my writing. I then own the experience, thought, feeling, and behavior. If I own it, I can change it. 
I'm happy to see SLPs embracing writing as part of their intervention with students. For years I recall some controversy about whether writing was within our purview. I am convinced that helping our students express themselves in writing as well as verbally will provide them with a powerful tool, not just for school, but for their emotional well-being.

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