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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

5 Writing Exercises to Help Heal Pain

Writing has always been a part of my life in some form. From poems, plays and journaling to my writing about how sad and sick I was when I was ill. I would write about how much pain I was in, how upset I was that I could not do the things I wanted to do and just how miserable I was in general. I told myself I was "getting it out" but I now know that doing that perpetuated my conditions and me feeling unwell. Receiving my first Susan Sark book got me writing positively again. Reading "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill added more positive writing exercises. Discovering my passion for blogging and writing about health has been such a gift for me. I would love to share 5 Writing Exercises you can use to help heal your pain.

1) Write Down 10 Things That You Love about Yourself

When I was ill I was constantly beating myself up with the messages I was telling myself. "I am so sick". "I can't be a good mom or wife when I am so sick" "I am a burden because my pain stops me from doing anything that needs to be done".... oh they went on but there's no point going back THERE now! Everyone can name ten things they like about themselves
if they stop and take the time to think about it. It can be any attribute or quality that you have (mental or physical). It can be the simplest things like "I make awesome eggs" to "I love my children unconditionally".

Making this list does a few things:
1) It changes your focus from what you cannot do to what you CAN DO.
2) It helps to build your self esteem.
3) It gives you a list to go back to whenever you are beating yourself up about something.... Next time you can say, "Ok, well I might not be in the Olympics tomorrow but I CAN DRAW perfect Olympic circles" (I always envied those teachers that drew perfect circles!)

Even small items on this list can shine light on some of your special abilities. This is what makes YOU unique and valuable. They are traits to be celebrated! You are giving attention to wonderful things about yourself instead of the endless loop of negative self talk. In order for others to love you and
in order to heal you MUST love yourself.

2) Write down 15 Things/People you are Grateful for

This is a BIGGIE and I truly did not realize how big until I used it as a healing tool. When you are ill or if you are in pain of any kind it is easy to look around and see what you don't have and focus on what you are upset about. Everyone as long as they are breathing has at least their breath to be thankful for. Food, water, shelter, friends, parents, kids, a nearby park, a beautiful day outside..... all things we might take for granted but all things worth celebrating. Peter over at The Change Blog wrote an amazing post on gratitude this week, "How Gratitude Can Change Your Life". I go through what I am grateful for in the morning, at night and sometimes during the day in my head but I also take the time to write down a gratitude list every now and again.

If you are ill -- be grateful for the health you do have... even if one little part of your body is pain free. If you are facing a difficult time emotionally -- be grateful for the things in your life that are stable. Be grateful for past relationships or "challenging" situations that helped you learn. Feel gratitude for being able to read. Feel grateful for pets, flowers, music -- anything that you can think of that makes you smile.

Susan Sark was a wonderful discovery for me in writing positively and about what I am grateful for. She used writing as a means to heal from sibling incest. SARK suggests writing lists of favorite people, favorite books, tells you to "plant impossible gardens" and is an inspiration in every sense of the word. She made me realize that I am the only one who can tell my story and that everyone has a story worth sharing. I have several of her books and highly recommend Sark's Journal and Playbook which is a large journal with some blank pages and some pages with suggestions on what to write. Her book "Sark's New Creative Companion: Ways to Free Your Creative Spirit" is also filled with ideas as are her many other books and her website.

3) List 5 Positive Affirmations and 5 Inspirational Quotes You Will Look at Every Day

It takes a little effort to change bad habits and to become "aware" and listen to your self-talk. You are sure to slip backwards at times -- "life happens" and it is not always what you expect or would have asked for. I have already said that it is important to "Appreciate Every Moment NOT JUST the Good Ones" but having quotes written down that inspire you will be a quick way to refocus and re-inspire yourself when you need it most. There are so many people that have inspiring sayings. You need to pick quotes that resonate within you and you FEEL will continue to inspire you. Here are a few sites to go and look for some to write down:

A few of my favorites that helped me are:

"When you Change the Way you Look at Things
the Things you Look at Change
-- Wayne Dyer
"You Do Enough, You Have Enough, You Are Enough"
-- Susan Sark
"Keep Your Mind on a Higher Image Rather than on a Lower Concern"
-- ?????

As for affirmations -- make these also resonate within you. These can be things you want to achieve or qualities you want to make sure are a part of your daily life. Here are a couple of sites to look for some positive affirmations that might resonate with you:

Here are a few of the ones that I used:

I trust in my ability to bring forth better circumstances.

I am healthy and am feeling stronger every day.

I have everything I need and what it takes to create an amazing life.

In "Think and Grow Rich", Napoleon Hill talks about the importance and power of Affirmations and Daily Mantras. By writing these and reading them every day you are sending out the message to your subconscious as well as the Universe that this is what your focus is and this is what you want.

4) Write a Forgiveness Statement for Yourself and a Forgiveness Statement for Someone Else

Self-forgiveness is something I had never even thought of before I learned about the mind/body connection. As a "recovering perfectionist" I am still learning to "take it easy on myself" and "let go" of some of the stuff I feel I "should" be doing..... While I did not consciously create my illnesses, I felt guilty about my negative energy after learning about The Law of Attraction. I had to forgive myself for not healing sooner and forgive myself for possibly many additional years of health. I have learned so much and honestly if I had only been sick 2 years maybe it would not have been as deep a passion to teach others about healing from within. I am grateful now my illnesses lasted as long as they did because it has me where I am right now.

Self-forgiveness also allows you to love yourself more. Replaying a conversation or an action that you cannot take back does not accomplish anything. While there are situations where I would recommend healing pain by saying "
I am Sorry" the first person you should be saying sorry to is yourself. Eckhart Tolle talks about the "Power of Now" and if you are reliving something that you did or said you are living in the past. The past is behind you and life is really about what you can do NOW for NOW and to keep moving forward with your life. Write yourself a nice long letter about how you forgive yourself for whatever you are holding onto and feel yourself lighten immediately.

Forgiveness for someone else that you have blamed or feel that has wronged you is very important as well. There are horrific things that happen to people. Incest, molestation, abuse, rape and yes unfortunately there are a lot more. I was in a very emotionally abusive relationship for a couple of years and boy did I harbor anger and bad feelings toward my ex boyfriend. I spent hours wishing it didn't happen, re-living every awful event and just letting my blood boil so much I am surprised I didn't implode. Guess what? That never made it any better. I carried my distrust of men into my marriage and was lucky enough to get a spouse that understood where it was coming from and dealt with it for years until I was finally able to "let it go".

Writing a letter of forgiveness to someone who hurt you does not mean you approve in any way of what they did -- it just means you have suffered enough with it and are now willing to part with the negative emotions you have attached to it. Remember that the experience made you who you are today, made you stronger, made you look at things "a little differently"..... My regular readers might be getting sick of this quote but it is one I repeat very often to myself -- so get used to it... ;-) The wise Dr. Deepak Chopra said "You must realize that everyone is doing the best they can from their own state of consciousness". Usually an abuser was abused themselves -- does that excuse their behavior? No, but it can help to explain it. You have probably re-lived any situation that has caused you pain enough and given it more attention than it deserves. Writing a letter is a good way to say "ENOUGH"
I am moving forward with my life now.

5) List 5 Goals and Mini Goals You Can Use to Achieve Them

If you do not know what you want to achieve -- how will you know where you are going? How will you know when to celebrate and pat yourself on the back for moving in the right direction? How do you know what you really want? Listing goals can seem scary but listing them is the first step in making them a reality. It used to be if someone asked me what I wanted out of life I would give a broad answer, "to be happy", "to be wealthy", but those need to be elaborated on or have mini steps in place to get you to that point. I now set goals in 5 areas of my life (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and financial). It is imperative for me to set mini goals in those areas as well. Mini goals are baby steps used to get to your big goal. You don't necessarily have to spell it all out if you haven't gotten it all figured out but using smaller steps makes those big goals seem more attainable. Each time a each mini goal is met it will build your self esteem and confidence and give you strength to keep on moving forward and taking action.

Say your goal is to start a new career, this alone might seem daunting and overwhelming. Let's break it down into mini goals to make it more obtainable.
1) Look in local paper to find out what, if anything interests you.
2) List 3 things you love to do and look online to see what kind of jobs are affiliated with those skills.
3) Look into training online or in community in what you want to learn.
4) Contact someone working in that field to find out more about it and to see if that is really what you want to do.

This makes the major goal more obtainable and suddenly not so scary. Once you do these steps you can create new mini goals to get even closer if need be. You are taking action and moving forward and that is helpful for your self esteem, self love and health (mental and physical).

Write down some goals for those 5 categories and the steps you would need to get there. It is time to start thinking about what you can do NOW to meet those goals. If you want to make money doing something you love it is time to set some goals about finding more information on jobs that would incorporate it.

"Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill is also wonderful in laying out how to write down goals for success. Mr. Hill explains how to write in detail about what you want to obtain and set dates for when you want to obtain it by. He also goes into the process of visualization to make the writing even more powerful. Tim Brownson of "A Daring Adventure" had a guest post at "Pick the Brain" called "How to Visualize Your Success" that I highly recommend you checking out.

These writing exercises will help you get into the right space you need to be in to heal. You will be proactive in your healing and are telling your subconscious "I am ready to be healthy" or "I am ready to let go of the heavy burdens I have been carrying".
Doing these exercises will help you release pain and encourage new growth to heal from within. Enjoy these and if you want more writing exercises I have them outlined for every part of my "Paging Me System" in my ebook.

How do you use writing to heal you emotionally or physically? I would love if you would comment on how you can see these exercises or any other writing exercises helping you to heal.


Michael said...

Hi Jenny,
I just finished catching up with the posts I hadn't read yet. Some really good stuff!
Writing is such a great tip. But if anyone is like me, the trouble is actually DOING it, not just thinking about it :P

Jenny Mannion said...

Hi Michael, Yep, sitting down and saying "I am writing now" is half the battle. It helps if you are open going into and go in from your heart. No one has to read what you write besides yourself -- so there should be no "pressure" and no over-analyzing. JUST DO IT! It helps and I hope people will take the time to try some of these! Thanks for your comment. Gratefully, Jenny

Suzie Cheel said...

Great post Jenny.
I love the just writing, like Michael, just doing it, getting started is the key

Jenny Mannion said...

Thanks so much Suzie! So happy you enjoyed the post. I do have trouble sometimes if I "think" too much ahead about WHAT I want to write - best to just sit and "go for it". I really appreciate you reading and commenting! Love, Jenny

Cory said...

Jenny – Loved your post. It is important to write in a positive manner in order to heal pain or even to just manage it. I remember my pain specialist encouraging me to keep a journal on all of my pain symptoms throughout the day as a way to cope. I quit doing it because it made we feel worse just by reminding me how badly I hurt every time I made a new note in the journal. Once I switched to writing positive affirmations, quotes, and healing statements, life got easier.

What a great suggestion to write what you love about yourself. In first dealing with illness and pain, it can be so overwhelming losing the old you and also feeling angry with your body that is unable to do what it was capable of before. Learning to love yourself in spite of pain and illness can help you to heal faster. If your body has not healed yet, it’s okay. Keep writing.

Learning to love myself again shifted my attention to the things I could still do. Positive "can do’s" helped me to build a more comfortable situation. Those “little wins” and “can do’s” add up and build momentum.

May comfort be yours, Cory

Jenny Mannion said...

Hey Cory,
Thank you for sharing your experience with writing to cope with pain. You are so right with saying how illness can make you feel angry and frustrated with yourself. Celebrating each little success goes a long way. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment and for stopping by Cory. Gratefully, Jenny

Cory said...

Hi Jenny - Thanks. I'll be back. I enjoy your blog.

May comfort be yours, Cory

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