in a recent post about journaling for healing, louise de salvo recommended not to use journaling in order to complain.
in principle, i would agree but i think there is some value in kvetching, as long as it’s done consciously and it’s not the only thing that finds its way into your journal.
i think it can be useful occasionally to give free – and controlled – reign to our negative aspects. (for other suggestions on handling negativity, you may want to refer to this post).
we aren’t always loving and compassionate and insightful and selfless. if we pretend we’re never bitchy, selfish, small-minded and bigoted (and whatever the negativity du jour is), this part of us will find a way to rear its ugly head anyway – either in our relationships with others – through manipulation, perhaps – or with ourselves, maybe through health problems such as depression. so why not let the little monster out sometimes?
three ways i’ve found useful.
1. in a chapter on the power of negative thinking by barbara sher, author of the classic book wishcraft, recommends spending a specific amount of time to write down your negative feelings about a specific topic. really go for it! don’t just say, i’d like it if robert would stop leaving the towel on the floor after his showers.
no – really get into it! exaggerate! get flowery! wail and gnash your teeth! these towels on the floor! they ruin my life! one more time i pick them up and i’ll break my back and be in the hospital for 6 months!
then, when the appointed time is over, stop, and destroy that poor piece of paper that had to take all your ranting. the first time i did that, i experienced an incredible rush of freedom and creativity, i couldn’t go to bed until 2 am.
2. for a little over a year, i wrote a journal in dialogue form. this was back in the early 90’s, when everyone was doing inner child work. i would have different parts of myself dialogue with each other in the journal, and for a while, there was a part of me that would be pretty snippy.
again, it felt like a great relief to let that part out, and it was moving to see how other parts of me would be patient and loving with that part. i still go back to this form of journaling once in a while, when things get really tough.
(update: here’s a post on it: journaling: a dialogue)
3. and then there is poetry. as i’ve mentioned in creative projects, poetry helps make sense of the world, both inside and out. it helps reconcile paradoxes and puts a frame around experiences and feelings that seem weird and bizarre, scary and annoying (and heart wrenchingly beautiful and dazzling and magnificent – but that’s another post). like this one:
judging judging judging
her mouth too slim her teeth too small
his voice too loud his stories boring
judging and then trying
to sit there, listen only, ears wide open,
heart without a curtain between them and me
soul without a them and me
just listening watching
and then back to
judging judging judging
my judge too tough my mind too fast
my words too slurred my walls too high
and then just
walking breathing driving seeing city lights –
of being in this human cage.
if you’d like some assistance with getting going on this – or with dealing with negativity in your life in general – i’d be excited to help. (yes, it’s true! i get a big kick out of helping people change their lives for the better.) this form here can get you started. you can keep it for yourself, or use it as a basis for the free 30-minute consultation that comes with it.
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