Writing Your Way Through Emotional Pain

By Barton Goldsmith
Tribune News Service.

Journaling is a tried-and-true way of tuning into your feelings and helping yourself make the changes that you desire. It’s a very simple process and one that you can do totally on your own, but it’s surprising how few people take advantage of this wonderful healing technique.

There are as many types of journals as there are people out there journaling, and it is totally okay for you to have your own style and way of using journaling to make your life a better place to be.

Some people choose to write every day. Author Julia Cameron, who wrote “The Artist’s Way,” recommends something she calls “morning pages,” in which you write (a lot) longhand every morning. This isn’t going to work for everyone, and, truth be told, I think she meant this to be mostly for writers, but we all can benefit from the exercise.

If writing daily is helpful to you, then give yourself every opportunity to allow it to happen. I have even given up other things, so I could write. It is a priority for me and not just a professional one. I find writing to be emotionally calming.

Another less intense journaling technique is keeping a gratitude journal. The process is quite simple. Every night, before you go to bed, you write down three to five things for which you are grateful. The trick is that you can’t use the same ideas every day, so you have to search your soul for what gives you gratitude and then write it down.

This exercise may seem small, but because you do it before you sleep and the gratitude goes into your subconscious, it is actually quite powerful. Within a couple of weeks of keeping a gratitude journal, many people feel more positive about their lives. It can do wonders for your emotional pain, as you feel more confident about yourself and your life. It will also allow you to bring in more positive feelings from those around you.

The gratitude journal is really a great healer for those of us who deal with emotional difficulties. It allows us to share our feelings privately and then heal the thoughts that make us retreat from others and the world, as we gently change the way we think about ourselves and how we respond to situations that used to make us uncomfortable.

There are numerous ways to approach journaling, and it doesn’t matter which method you use. In fact, I know several people who keep several different kinds of journals. Whatever you choose will help you heal your pain.

Now go to the stationery store and buy yourself a nice blank book to fill with your thoughts. Alternatively, if you’d rather type up your thoughts, that’s fine, too. The point here is to get those feelings of fear and those of gratitude down on paper. This helps release the fear and pain from your personality while helping you feel the warmth you have coming to you.

Journaling will make you stronger and give you some insights into where you really want to be in life. Your emotional pain does not have to stop you any longer.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time)

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