“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them they should’ve behaved better.”
Anne Lamott

Want to write about your experiences and use your stories to help others but afraid they might offend or disappoint? Who’s to say you shouldn’t? In fact, writing about what’s happened to you could be the very thing that’ll start the healing. Whether others are triggered or not by what you write isn’t the point. You’re not out to hurt anyone, just to Feng Shui your soul by moving those stories and energy out of you.

Your truth is your truth. Nobody can tell you what happened to you or how you feel about it. There’s no right or wrong about your story. It’s yours. End of story. Share it if you have the desire. In fact who are you not to tell your story? Think of the countless others who might benefit or need someone else to be brave so they can do the same?

This one idea changed my writing game. Keeping my stories to myself started to feel selfish. I’m in this to help people heal after all, so if telling one of my personal stories helps someone relate, resonate or be brave, I’ve done my job and that’s success to me.

A few years back I joined NaNoWriMo, an online motivational group who’s goal is to help you write a thirty thousand word book in thirty days. I had a book or two in me at the time, and thought this would be the way to get my story into the world. Little did I know it would become a sixty five thousand word book and be the thing I needed to do to heal wounds from my childhood.

On Christmas Eve that year, after purging my soul of every last painful memory, I hit send on an email, which included that book, to my family. I didn’t just need to write it, I needed them to have an understanding of what the last couple decades of healing had been like for me. I needed them to read my story.

My sister, a skilled psychotherapist, asked for a conference call that week for us and my parents. “You can’t publish that!” my dad said. I felt scolded for telling the truth. I wasn’t even planning on publishing the story. Moving those stories out of me helped me clear a space inside for the real book to come through. I didn’t know it at the time though.

By the way, I still talk to my family. They moved through this event with grace and instead of shutting it and me down, they welcomed conversation. That was the real healing. I’m acutely aware It could have easily gone the other way and what I was risking. But for me, the build up of pain and resentment I held inside all those years became a physical deal breaker and I was willing to risk their rejection if it meant healing.

Many more words, blogs, poems and another full-length book came through me after that experience. People reacted to the story of what I did with awe – they had stories they wanted to send too, only they were afraid to share them. I realized telling the story about telling my story was inspiring people.

Write and share your stories. When you move the energy by doing the actual writing you’ll create a shift and unlock your flow. If you don’t know how to start remember it doesn’t even really matter what you write about at first, or even whether or not you share it right away. 
Sit down, grab a notebook and pen or your laptop and set a timer for 5 minutes. Begin doing some writing that doesn’t matter. It’s taking the action that’ll start the process of healing. If you’re afraid someone will read what you wrote, and you’re not ready for others to know what’s inside, remember you can burn it afterwards. The process of writing’s what matters; getting the thoughts, memories, ideas and pain out onto the paper.

Here are 10 tips for getting started with some therapeutic writing:

  1. It doesn’t matter what you write. No rules. Just move your pen over the paper and start the process. It’s the act of writing that’ll begin to break the dam.
  2. Set a timer at first. When you give yourself a finite amount of time the task doesn’t seem so daunting. Set a timer for 5 minutes and begin with I feel_______. Just write without stopping until the timer goes off.
  3. Get out of your head and into your body before you start writing. Do a little meditation to connect with your body first. When you practice body awareness and feeling, the writing will come from your soul and you’ll be less apt to censor yourself. Trust that place and the words coming from there.
  4. Don’t over-think things. Even when you practice body awareness, you’ll have a tendency to over think. The inner critic is fierce and will try to sabotage your writing and your flow. When you hear the voices telling you not to write, connect with the breath and continue to let it flow.
  5. Afraid someone will read it? Write in a notebook and burn it afterward. (Somewhere safe please). It’s the process of moving the energy we’re after here.
  6. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar or even finishing sentences. Therapeutic writing needs to flow and not be blocked up by rules. Notice how difficult it is not to stop and correct your mistakes. Don’t resist. Just notice and keep writing.
  7. Write every day. If you’ve resisted this and had trouble getting into a good habit of writing, I promise you, your discipline will pay off. Even if it’s the 5 minute exercise, do it every day and build a practice that’ll serve your healing. Override the excuse voices and do this. You won’t regret it.
  8. If you write for others to read, do some writing without a goal of publishing. When you’re always thinking your writing will be read by others you’ll stop yourself up again. Instead, connect with your feeling place and write from there, emotions included, without worrying about it being read, or being perfect enough for publication. The biggest treasures in my writing have come from not caring what others think and writing for myself.
  9. Find a journaling group to get you started. Sometimes being in a group of people all being brave together is the thing that’ll help you do this.
  10. Write the thing you’re afraid to write. Don’t censor yourself. Put your secrets down. Move the pain out of you. Tell the story you haven’t been able to tell. This’s your life and these are your stories. Own them. Claim your truth and stop getting in the way of your own healing. Time to be brave.

I love to write guys – I’ve seen the positive and transformational effects of combining writing with your healing process and I’ve developed an amazing workshop, Writing as a Path to Healing to help you. Find more information about the online course HERE! And in the meantime, tell me more about your writing or journaling practice in the comments – what’s worked for you?