I just read a fantastic article in the New York Times, Writing Your Way to Happiness, and I absolutely agree that writing is tremendously healing and can provide one with insights that are rich with the potential for personal growth and change.
I've been journaling since I was kid, and in many ways I'm certain that this habit helped to keep me sane and in-tune with my feelings. At the very least, it provided me the opportunity to tell myself my story as I experienced it, and, as I would often go back and re-read the entries a few days later, it gave me the time to digest those feelings and choose a course of action based on reflective thought.
The act of writing has given me a sense of self-awareness that I am very grateful to possess, and has helped shape the story that I tell myself, which is that I am a survivor and always will be, no matter the stakes. It's a very different story than feeling like a victim — whether that be a victim of circumstance or a victim of others — I have never felt that way.
One of the most impactful learnings from my Psychology studies that I still carry with me is the idea of locus of control — whether or not one believes that outcomes are a product of our actions or a product of things outside of our control. Those with an internal locus of control are more likely to take responsibility for their actions and to feel confident in the face of challenges, versus those with an external locus of control feeling helpless and not believing that they can change their circumstances through their own efforts.
Obviously a child is a victim of his or her circumstance, as was I; however, as soon as I was able, I got the heck out of dodge to start my own life as free from the craziness as I could get, constantly trying to shake off the shackles of my upbringing. It definitely wasn't easy, and I stumbled along the way. In many ways, I'm still stumbling. But I learn from each step I take.
This current writing journey that I'm undertaking is opening my eyes to so many things that I just wasn't able to see as a young adult. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to take this time to pour the words out, sit with them, and not only create a (hopefully) beautiful manuscript, but also incorporate them into my life moving forward. I believe everyone has the opportunity to reflect upon and revise their personal story at some (and often many) points in their lives.
Here I am, almost forty years old, making peace with my past, building healthy relationships, and rebuilding broken ones — and I couldn't be happier to do so.
Anyone reading this blog should definitely take a few minutes to read the NYT article. Just a few moments of your day could impact the way you view your story and alter the course of the rest of your life...