Although I've written before about James W. Pennebaker's book, Writing to Heal: A Guided Journal for Recovering from Trauma and Emotional Upheaval, I've been rereading it because of a new book I'm working on.
And, once again I am struck by how much I agree with Dr. Pennebaker concerning writing about trauma or emotional upheaval in a positive way rather than continuing to dwell on the negative.
Here's what Dr. Pennebaker has to say about this important facet of healing: "Traumatic experiences have the potential to touch every part of our lives in good and bad ways. After a tragedy, for example, people often report that they come away with a stronger sense of social connections, and a rediscovered sense of meaning in their lives. Analysis of various writing samples consistently finds that those people who can express positive emotions while writing about tragic events tend to benefit more from expressive writing."
He continues, "After you've experienced a trauma, people often want you to be happy because your pain is difficult for them to deal with. If you could put on a cheerful upbeat face, they would be more comfortable. But, clearly, such false happiness is not true positive emotion. In this chapter, you will find a number of exercises that may be helpful in encouraging you to draw on some of your deeper reservoir of love, meaning, and contentment. No false grins or cheerfulness is expected (or wanted).
(to be continued)
FYI...Scientific Blogging has an interesting article on the importance of writing things down.
P.S. The graphic is of a woman writing a letter, but I liked it so well that I'm using it anyway.