using your negative voice

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 –

the teeter-totter
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.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

5 thoughts on “using your negative voice

  1. ashok

    Off-topic, have you seen Squidoo? They allow you to make these things called lenses where you introduce people to a topic or problem and provide info and links. I bring it up because it might be of use to you.

  2. Pingback: illness? normal? i just want to feel good. » change therapy - isabella mori

  3. Dixie

    Adolescent journaling can easily be taken out of context if an entry is acquired by a third party. In the case where my son stepped in to prevent bullying of another and ended up being bullied himself. He was so outraged that he put down his thoughts about the entire day. He felt that he had been terrorized and wrote what he thought should be done to terrorists. A fifteen year old is not necessarily mature enough to think about where they journal…so he wrote it in his Spanish school notes. Two months later, another student finds them in his notebook…tears them out and turns them in. Taken out of context…he is painted as a “psycho” and treated as such by the school. Of course, it did not help that two of the bullies parents were on the school board.

    So advise your child to be careful about what and where they journal…it can and quite often will, be used against them.

  4. isabella mori

    hi dixie – you are right, it’s important to keep journals private, for many reasons. they can end up in the wrong hands. there was a court case a few years ago where a person accused of rape was allowed by the courts to use the contents of the victim’s diary.

  5. eeabee

    I’m so glad to hear about this topic. I’m learning (from others and experimenting) how much more quickly “negative” emotions/states of mind move along if I let them have their time and give them their due. I have a strong oppositional two-year-old streak, and if I just do a little comical foot-stomping routine (internally or externally depending on whether I’m with someone who I can do it with) and then I can quickly see if I really do need to be resistant or if it’s just my reflex oppositionality. If it’s the latter, it moves along pretty quickly if I let myself have the moment. But if I try to supress it, it’s much worse and can take over totally.

    I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot lately and it’s helping to approach it this way.

    eeabee’s last blog post..Gloom, Hopelessness, Despair Beyond Measure

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *