by Wendy Keller, a woman with a past to heal from
If I told you there’s a simple way to make massive progress toward getting better despite the nasty, painful, wrong things that have happened to you, would you give it a shot? I sure hope so. Because in order for things to get better, you have to do something different today than you did yesterday, or things will stay the same. And we both know that deep in your heart, you don’t want things to stay the same. You don’t want to carry this pain, bitterness, injustice or anguish to your grave.
The method I’m about to reveal to you really, truly works. Problem is, it looks too easy. Most basic laws of the Universe are. Gravity, for example. Or that brushing your teeth reduces cavities. In fact, the simple-but-difficult technique I’m about to encourage you to try is something some part of your heart probably already knows and is trying to use, albeit ineffectively.
Write the incident.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not a good writer; if your spelling is bad; if the things you’d write about are so terrible you don’t want anyone to ever see it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t own a computer.
One of the single most effective things you can do to heal yourself is WRITE your story. Write the bad thing that happened to you, from beginning to end. Put in dialogue to reflect what you remember other people saying, as best as you can recollect. Write about what you saw, what you felt, how the whole thing made you feel. It can be long or short, hand written or typed, it doesn’t matter. Add every single last detail you can remember. Start with the first moment you realized something was wrong and go from there.
See? Sounds too simple to work, doesn’t it? How could that work? And what if someone reads it? And why re-open that pain up again by replaying it?
Here’s why this works: because what happened has changed as time has passed. Not the facts, of course. My children still died in the car accident. My house still burned down. Those are facts. But by writing my stories – over and over sometimes, sometimes just once – I see things differently. This especially works with things that happened to you in childhood.
It happens because YOU have changed. You’ve changed and the way you see things has changed. When you’re a little kid and you’re upset that your parents don’t have the decency to get that monster who lives in your closet, it’s all very real. But when you’re 25 or 45, well, that monster incident looks very different. Believe it or not, the process of writing your pain and making sure to include dialogue and what you saw and felt will give you a new perspective on what happened: the perspective of the adult you are today who survived it all.
You probably already do this in some ways. If you talk to people about what happened to you, you are trying to process it. Every time you tell another person your sad story, you hear it a tiny bit different. That’s why you do it (sub-consciously).
You don’t need sympathy – that’s worthless.
You need to hear yourself reframing your story.
This process, when spoken, helps a little and may depend on how the other person responds to your tale. But when you write it, that’s when you’ll really see the transformation, the healing in yourself. It’s when you can finally look at what happened objectively. It’s often the beginning of healing, of forgiving yourself or others.
I’m a literary agent by profession. That means I sell books to publishers on behalf of authors. I never handle life stories. But even so, my company gets offered about 6,000 life stories (memoirs, autobiographies) every year. Why? Because some of these people have accidentally or on purpose discovered the transformative power of writing their story. I always tell them “Your book has already served its highest purpose. Getting published isn’t relevant.” Most will never get published, but the healing and refreshed perspective the writer now has from the process of writing is priceless.
Today, grab a piece of paper and a pen, or open a new file on your computer. I dare you to write just the first five paragraphs of what happened to you. You’ll soon feel the story shifting in you – moving you toward profound and permanent healing.
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