7 Ways that Writing Can Help You. (With Special Quotes from Well-Known Writers.) Part 1.

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What is your writing genre?….. Whatever it is, you will inevitably be expressing within it a part of yourself.

Whether it is fiction or non-fiction, academic writing, stream of consciousness, blogging or journal-keeping, the personal you will be very much reflected in what is committed to paper or screen.

Maybe your identity will be expressed symbolically, through describing scenarios and theories that are somehow pertinent to you as a person.

“All our writing is influenced by our life histories. Each word we write
represents an encounter, possibly a struggle, between our multiple
past experience and the demands of a new context.
Writing is not some neutral activity which we just learn like a physical skill, but it implicates every fibre of the writer’s multifaceted being.”

 

Roz Ivanic.

 

Given that writing is such an individual endeavour, it can become very beneficial to us. Below are some of the ways  in which writing can benefit us.

(You may think of many more. Do add a comment if so.)

1. Survival.

Many people feel that writing is essential to their very existence. Without it, they would fade away and die. Why is this? How does writing enable people to live? Perhaps you will discover some answers to this in the points that follow.

“Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

“To survive, you must tell stories.”

-Umberto Eco.

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2. Telling Your Story.

Writing our story and sharing it with others is a way of communicating, of connecting, making contact. This in itself can combat feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Explaining our thoughts and feelings to another, our ideas, perspectives and world-view, provides a way of reaching out, involving others in our own life.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

― Maya Angelou

Writing means sharing. It’s part of the human condition to want to share things – thoughts, ideas, opinions. -Paulo Coelho

In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicableJohn Steinbeck

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3.  Entering a new and different world.

Writing can provide us with a kind of escape. Comforting, self-soothing, it often means we lose ourselves in a world of our own creation, which can become anything we want.

Again, it is not important what kind of writing we do. We can create whatever we wish, in order to fulfil our writing needs.

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”— Anne Frank

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Anne Frank Writing. (Wikimedia Commons.)
‘Writing is the supreme solace.”
-W. Somerset Maugham.
4. Remembering, Re-experiencing and Memorialising.
It is part of the human condition to want to reminisce, to remember, to compare then and now and to learn from the past. One of the ways to do this is to write. Writing

preserves the past, indicates and measures change.

Often, I look back at my own writing and think “Did I write that?” The person who wrote it seems to be different from myself now and some of the details would have been forgotten had I not written them down.

Past written work indicates changes in viewpoint and attitude and shows how we have matured and altered over the years.

 

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”

–Anaïs Nin

“Write what should not be forgotten.”

Isabel Allende

5. Gaining Personal Power

Writing is often a way of stating  “This is me, this is how I think and what I believe.” It is a self-affirmation, a confirmation of who we are. Such an achievement should not be underestimated.

This process can also boost confidence, especially when it is obvious that our writing has had an impact on others.

“A word after a word after a word is power.”

–Margaret Atwood

6. Self Knowledge.

The writing process enables us to discover more about ourselves. Along the way, it will become apparent that we are revealing aspects of our inner world through what we produce on paper or screen.

“What The Subconscious is to every other man, in its creative aspect becomes, for writers, The Muse.”

-Ray Bradbury

 

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The Kiss of the Muse. Félix Nicolas Frillié. Wikimedia Commons

Bradbury’s idea about the unconscious as our muse is very apt; when we wonder where inspiration comes from, we can be sure it has emerged from our unknown inner selves. Writing helps us discover this.

Some people find that they cannot think without writing things down; this helps them in find out what is really going on in their mind. It is as if writing comes from somewhere deep inside, from a gut- level, and sometimes we might feel surprised at what emerges from our unconscious self.

“I write to discover what I know.”–Flannery O’Connor

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”  – Virginia Woolf

7. Expression of Pain
Many people find it a little easier to write down difficult thoughts feelings than to express these verbally. Somehow, the writing experience feels more controlled than speaking; there is the boundary of the paper or PC screen to ‘contain’ such thoughts. The spoken word floats into the air, wears something written is held tighter to the self.
There also may be a greater feeling of privacy than there is when verbalising and perhaps a sense of ownership. A sort of copyright of feelings.

“Tears are words that need to be written.”
–Paulo Coelho

“Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.”
Franz Kafka

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleedErnest Hermingway

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This post continues next week. Don’t forget to follow my blog and to check it out next Tuesday: 7 More Ways that Writing May Benefit you.

 

Crying : Facts and Myths. A Psychotherapist’s View.

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Picasso. Weeping Woman. Image: Nicho Design. Flickr.

“A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance”

(Ecclesiastes 3:4).

What do you associate with tears?

Are they a relief of stress and tension, a sign of genuine emotion, an expression of  joy and happiness, or of grief, frustration or anger?

Or could they be all of the above?

Are they a waste of time? Perhaps sometimes you may feel they are a hindrance. Tears and crying can have so many different meanings to different people.

“Real Men -and Big Boys -Don’t Cry.”

Real men, we have been told, don’t eat quiche. And they certainly don’t cry. Or do they? Is it a myth or a fact that real men do not shed tears? (What is a ‘real man’ anyway? Any thoughts? Comment below if you have.)

Why crying is important

Actually they do eat quiche and they do cry. (Maybe not at the same time.) Yet from childhood, many men have developed a socialised response of hiding their tears.

As a psychotherapist, I have found that many men in the early stages of therapy feared that they would be judged or mocked for their tears. Frequently, in a caring and non-judgemental atmosphere, these men could reveal that, beneath the macho image, there was an ocean of tears that had been restrained for years.

Sometimes, men might express the emotion behind tears in angry outbursts, whereas women are given more permission socially to cry when they feel upset.

“People cry, not because they are weak. It is because they’ve been strong for too long.”

Johnny Depp

Hopefully, this holding back of tears is changing for men. Reflected in literature and the media, men’s tears are becoming more acceptable:

“And tears came before he could stop them, boiling hot then instantly freezing on his face, and what was the point in wiping them off? Or pretending? He let them fall.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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Allowing tears to flow is much healthier for both body and mind than repressing them. Withholding such expressions of emotions can result in the development of somatic symptoms. Some physiological effects of crying involve the release of endorphins and oxytocin, which makes people feel better. 

The energy from controlled tears has to go somewhere, and if it is stopped it will emerge in another, less healthy way:

The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep.  ~Henry Maudsley

Tearless grief bleeds inwardly.  ~Christian Nevell Bovee

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Stop Crying!!

To a child or adult, the injunction to stop crying can be devastating. It reveals an absence of empathy and a condemnation of their emotional selves. Why do people try to stop others from crying?

We stop other people from crying because we cannot stand the sounds and movements of their bodies. It threatens our own rigidity. It induces similar feelings in ourselves which we dare not express and it evokes a resonance in our own bodies which we resist.”
Alexander Lowen, The Voice of the Body

Such dictates teach people to hide tears, to be ashamed of them, to be falsely ‘strong.’ In fact, it is not strong to withhold your tears, whatever one’s age or gender identity.

They are a way of expressing and communicating something very important. Crying in an empathic setting is especially healing:

“Tears are the noble language of eyes, and when true love of words is destitute. The eye by tears speak, while the tongue is mute.”
Robert Herrick

Crying often deepens a friendship; it shows trust and need.

However, sometimes people feel they are crying for too long or they are unable to stop crying. If this is a concern, they may need to see their GP, as it may be that they are suffering from depression.

Crocodile tears: Tears to manipulate.

Crocodiles, long ago, were believed to shed tears in order to lure their prey, or to weep for their victims after they had eaten them. Whilst they do have tear ducts, their tears have no emotional meaning behind them.

In Othello, Shakespeare showed the protagonist striking his wife, Desdemona. Othello saw her resulting tears as insincere, as he wrongly thought she was sleeping with Cassio:

“    Oh, devil, devil!
If that the earth could teem with woman’s tears,
Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile.
Out of my sight!”

William Shakespeare

Regarding women’s tears as manipulative is unfair and chauvinistic; similarly, women who cry may sometimes be regarded as weak, especially in a public or work setting. This unfairness holds true especially in male-dominated fields.

‘Corporate culture is one that’s still very much male-dominated, and many women, and men, believe that women need to act like men—and yet be more likeable than a man—in order to succeed. This includes not displaying signs of any “weakness,” or even “feminine emotions,” and not making other people uncomfortable. The act of crying can be perceived as all three.’

Peggy Drexler.

Tears may indeed be used disingenuously to manipulate others. But perhaps there is sometimes also a need behind the manipulation; the tears are still expressing the wish for understanding.

In a macabre aside, an extreme version of crocodile tears may be seen in the way that some hardened murderers have teardrops tattooed under the outer corner of their eye. These often represent the number of killings they have carried out.

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Freshly tattooed teardrops signifies the number of killings by a young member of the 18th Street Gang in Los Angeles.J. Ross Baughman

This is cruel, mocking the genuine tears of grief and loss. It is a perverse badge of honour.

What emotions may make us shed tears?

Some people cry when they are overwhelmed with happiness, or moved by something beautiful:

“Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.”
Edgar Allan Poe

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Washington Irving.

Do you have any thoughts to add? Please do make a comment below.

 

Why We Must Live For Today and The Best Ways to Achieve This.

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“Life is but a day;
A fragile dew-drop on its perilous way
From a tree’s summit.”
John Keats

“No permanence is ours; we are a wave
That flows to fit whatever form it finds”
Hermann Hesse

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“And so the spring buds burst, and so I gaze,
And so the blossoms fall, and so my days …”
Onitsura

 

 

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Life is short, transient, even for those who might live for a hundred years. That is still a drop in the ocean of time. The Buddhist concept of Impermanence tells us that nothing endures forever, everything passes.

This is reassuring when times are difficult. During good times, although we know that these will not last, we are also aware that at some point, they will probably return.

The ephemeral nature of life means that there are losses, as well as gains. It means that places and houses and holidays we have had are now just memories, that there are blank, empty spaces where some people and things should be.

Many are still there in our lives, but they have changed, they are in flux, the people and the places that surround us. They are part of the circle of life.

We may wish  that things would stay the same. We may desire a life of constancy and consistency, yet this is a fantasy, a dream that we will never attain. Accepting this is hard.

Twenty-first century society often offers us beguiling ways round the concept of change. A promise of youth recaptured. A turning back of the clock. We actually do not have to grow old! We can surgically alter our faces and bodies to fit in with some contemporary concept of what youth looks like.

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Dr. Braun performs Botox Injections on a client at Vancouver Laser & Skin Care. Wikimedia Commons.

Yet, even with botox, lasers, face lifts, creams, lotions and potions, we will still grow old and we will still die. That is the one unchanging certainty in our lives.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses,
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.
― Ernest Dowson

 

Seize the Day.

Living for now and in the present moment is an important aspect of Buddhist thought. Can we enjoy our lives, knowing that they will end?

Can we appreciate even the small things, the most fleeting of moments, whilst being aware that such moments do not return? They are lost in time, as one day we ourselves will be.

Can we really learn to appreciate what we have, to feel gratitude?

“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.”
Rabindranath Tagore

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Staying in the Now. Appreciating the Present Moment.

It is exactly because there is nothing permanent in our lives, including our life itself, that we really need to enjoy what we have.

While we do have life, finding joy in each day is, if this is at all possible, a powerful goal, a way to value our experience.  Perhaps we can practice deriving pleasure from small things. Can we find a moment to ‘stop and smell the roses?’  Can we pause and hear a medley of birdsong we normally might  miss, to taste and savour our food, to gaze at the face of  a sleeping child?

Equally, making the most of our own potential, developing our skills and continuing to learn at every opportunity, enable us to really benefit from what we’ve been given.

If we can grasp the idea that life is but a fleeting experience, then perhaps we will not delay or procrastinate as much.

Maybe there is less time than we think! This is not to be pessimistic, but to urge us to seize every opportunity, to live each day as if it were our last.

This is about truly experiencing the bounties that life has to offer, whenever and wherever possible:

Observe the wonders as they occur around you. Don’t claim them. Feel the artistry moving through and be silent. Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.

Rumi

I’m not sure about the instruction not to grieve; I feel that grieving is important. However, Rumi’s beliefs carry him through loss with the reassurance that there will be a compensatory return one day. What do you think?

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“‘All conditioned things are impermanent’ — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering.” – The Buddha

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