Issue #1 April 2009
Write Yourself a Better Life
Here is an easy method for you to make you feel better about life
How it all started
I started my short story website in 2008. For personal reasons (the death of a family member after a long illness) I was emotionally so drained I only managed to write a few pages to my site that year. I only really managed to do some diary writing. But then the new year came and I suddenly realized I was "back". I could write again!
I started writing down story ideas. It turned out I could write down over a hundred ideas at one sitting and new ones came every day. While I was walking, new ideas just popped into my mind. I tried to remember them long enough to write them down, mumbling keywords to myself - much to the amusement of the passers-by.
Then I started carrying a little notebook with me, jotting down my ideas as they came. When I came home, I wrote the ideas down on my computer.
My idea is to write short stories that would uplift the reader.
I do not know about you, but I feel the world these days is in such a hurry, dragging us with it, that we forget to pay attention to our own feelings. We work like robots - or search for a job frantically if the times have caused us to be unemployed.
Our attention span is a lot shorter than in the past. There is a constant feeling of hurry. No longer do we walk with a leisurely pace, looking around us. No - we lean forward and almost run. If we are still, our minds run anyway and our body reacts to this. Blood pressure, stomach problems, flus - we get many ailments that get worse with stress.
I have always been an avid reader. I usually read about three books at the same time. I have different books in different rooms so I am happy to know there is something to read waiting for me everywhere I go in our home. I love ancient Egypt, so most of my books seem to be history books of that era.
I love history novels but contemporary novels with modern themes are good also. I go to the book store when ever I go to town and always first search for the really thick books. I think anything under 1000 pages is a tiny book. I read very fast, so it can take me two-three days to finish such a novel.
Or used to take. One day I realized I had an unread novel on my bedside table. It had been there for three months instead of three days. I had become so busy I did not read fiction anymore. Me? The person who could walk home from a library with twenty books?
After the initial shock I realized I was not alone in this. Many of my friends had complained about the same lack of time - especially women with children. One said she could not wait for her toddler to become old enough to play alone in the yard so she could sit there and finally read a book again.
A good story takes you with it, giving you the gift of deep feelings that make you feel alive. So I figured I could write such stories, but short ones anyone would have the time to read. And so I started my site.
I was amazed at the power of words. I usually write very fast, the stories just pour out of me. While I write, I of course also read what I have written. And when I do, I listen to what the story feels like within me. The strength of these emotions can be surprising.
I also write a diary, on and off. And usually the need to write a few pages arise when I have felt strong emotions. Often those emotions are negative. I do have a vivid imagination so I suppose I am good at strengthening the original emotions. A little thing that made me feel good becomes a wonderful experience after I have been "milking it" in my mind for a while. And the negative experiences can also become the worst thing ever...
I took the time to read my journal and the emotions of many months ago came back just as strong as they were when I had written my diary. If I had felt bad then, I felt bad now like my subconscious was right there in the middle of the situation again. And of course it was. It knows no time. The only time for it is "now".
I started to wonder if this could be used to make me feel better. But how? The key to it all were words, I felt. I would need to work the words...
Using Diary Writing to Make You Feel Better About Your Life
And here is the method I came up with. It certainly is no official psychological method and is not recommended as such, but it sure worked for me! Try it if you feel it could lift your feelings to a more positive place too.
I use the computer, but the good old pen and journal work perfectly well too (there is something very satisfying in writing with a good pen on good paper).
With the computer I divide my page into two columns. On the left side I write my diary letting the words out just as they come. I let everything come out uncensored. I empty my mind, get it out and really feel the emotions.
And then comes the interesting part.
The idea of this exercise is to transform the negative emotions to more positive ones through the choice of words. So now I read what I have written, with thought and listen to my emotions. And I rewrite the whole thing on the right hand side of the page with words that make me feel better. Not the best ever, just slightly better.
Lets say I wrote "Ann really pissed me off today by being so cranky, she would not even answer me when I said something to her". Well you can imagine just how great I feel reading that! The more I read it, the crankier I feel, and the more I think Ann is not a nice person. This of course reflects in my behavior the next time I meet Ann. I can say whatever I like, but Ann subconsciously recognizes my body language that says loud and clear that I do not like her.
So I search for words and sentences that will open the angry energies and let them flow smoothly again. In this case (Ann is a coworker of mine, name has been changed, so this is a real example) I write:
"It seems Ann had a bad day. I can understand that, she did not get her holiday when she would have wanted and she had that client yell at her on the phone. Anyone would feel bad after that. She did not answer me when I talked to her, but maybe she just did not want to spread her bad feelings. Maybe she felt like crying - you don´t want to talk then, because you might start crying for real. And besides - she is not obliged to behave in a way I want her to so that I would feel better. No one is responsible for my emotions but me. And deep down Ann is a great person. Different, yes, but that is a richness in itself. Life would be boring if we all were similar and agreed on everything. With her behavior Ann made me realize how I would like to be treated - with respect. I am sure that is what everyone wants, so the next time I see Ann, I shall respect her emotions also."
After this I feel slightly better. And that is enough. A big jump from anger to total happiness is not possible. We need to take small emotional steps. One step at a time to a slightly better feeling place. Then another step. And then another.
When you write your diary this way, you notice the first sentences may be hard to transform. Don´t try too hard. It really is enough to write it only slightly better. Then go to the next issue. You may find with the next issue it is a bit easier to "write better". Do so. And continue until your day is finished.
You don´t need to write fluently, or use fancy words. Your grammar does not need to be perfect. You teacher is not going to see this. This is for your eyes - and mind - only.
Listen to how you feel after re-writing your journal. Probably better. You did not deny your negative emotions, instead you gave them full permission to exist by writing them honestly on your first diary version. And then you were honest to your own emotions and worked them just the way that felt best for you at the moment. You literally wrote yourself a better day in your life.
I think we want to go past our feelings of anger and frustration too quickly and so never really give them a chance to dissolve naturally. So if you feel really angry when you do this exercise and can´t think of anything good to write, even "I am so angry! I cannot deal with this now but I know I will calm down after a while and can return to this then" is perfect.
If you wrote nice sentences that contradict your strong emotions totally, the result would be an even worse feeling place. You cannot lie to yourself. That is also why so many affirmations don´t work - the words don´t change anything alone, it is the emotions that really create your reality.
This is why you should listen to your own emotions and only choose such words that make YOU feel better. You are not writing this to your mother. You are not going to show what you wrote to anyone else, it´s your diary after all. So choose the words that make you and no one else feel better and then move on. Be true to yourself.
If you haven´t done this before, it may feel difficult at first. But trust me - it gets easier every time you try it. Slowly you begin to respect your emotions as good, even if others would label them as "bad".
Do this exercise a few times each month. At first it may feel just like any other exercise - theory. Speaking of myself I realized a change after a few weeks. I noticed I had started "writing" the diary all through the day in my mind. If I got annoyed, I stated that in my mind. And then I immediately started thinking how could I say this in a way that would make me feel a bit better right there and then.
I did not wait for the evening to come and then write down all my bottled up negative issues. I worked with them all through the day and as a result felt much better at the end of the day. And when I in that mood started writing my diary, it came out more positive to start with. My subconscious had already learned to search for the good in every situation.
I call this method "Writing Myself a Better Life".
So what if you tried it too? Just to see how words affect your mind and emotions. Write yourself a better life!
This month I wrote romantic stories - like Kissing Bridge, and Short Love Story.
I wrote about an everyday angel - my husband´s aunt who was the most unselfish person I ever knew. Her story was about a dream that led her find a lonely severely handicapped child that had been abandoned in an institution.
I wrote a little story about work attitude too - procrastination and choosing the right person for the job.
And then I thought that maybe you would also like to tell a story and made it possible on the site (search for the "YOUR story" tab on the navbar on the left if you are interested in telling a story).
I also joined Twitter (you can follow my musing there, I am StoryStory).
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Leena Pekkalainen is a writer who specializes in inspirational short stories that uplift the reader. You will find her stories and positive attitude tips at http://www.inspirational-short-stories.com
This article of using diary writing to write yourself a better life was first published in Inspirational Short Stories newsletter.
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