When I was in school, we were taught cursive writing. That is not an option anymore and students today barely write at all. Most can only print illegibly. They use devices like I Pads and computers and cell phones to communicate by typing. When was the last time you received a handwritten letter or thank you note? Even sympathy and Christmas cards come with pre-printed messages and the sender had only to sign his/her name.
As teenagers my friends and I kept diaries, which we kept hidden away and locked with little keys (as if the contents were a threat to National Security). Today many people keep personal journals, especially when traveling or undergoing particularly stressful times. But otherwise, write very little.
In Despicable Lies, Danielle, a devoted and caring physician, realizes the medical importance of putting one’s thoughts and fears on paper and organizes a program of expressive writing for cancer patients at The New York Hospital. She begins by simply talking and listening to the patients undergoing treatments, and then gives them spiral notebooks and pens while suggesting they write down what they are feeling and experiencing. In the book, her program becomes very successful as a self-help tool in the patient’s survival and recovery. As its benefits are acknowledged by the patients and medical personnel alike, it begins to spread throughout New York and eventually around the country. Danielle names the program Healing Words.
Expressive writing has been shown to be helpful in many different situations. Not only does it have medical and psychiatric value, but it offers clarity too. If I am upset about something and I take the time to write about it (or type about it on the computer), I feel better and more aware of what’s really bothering me…maybe it’s not about the argument itself, but the reasons behind it. Then, much as I like locking up a diary from prying eyes, I push the “delete button” and release my thoughts to float in the universe, I feel a sense of relief and usually calmer.
Maybe the next time you have an argument with your husband or child, your neighbor or your friend, take the time to write down all your angry thoughts, stare at them for a while and then tear up the paper or push delete, you will feel better. The situation may not change, but your reaction to it might. Isn’t it worth a try?
Until my next inspiration…ciao.