It's been a while since I wrote a post for Life's Little Toolbox; mainly because I didn't know what else to say. Well, actually, I have plenty of conversations with myself but not many that make it out into the light of day to share with others. I tend to fall into a self-sabotaging trap within my own head. Inspired by a thought, I begin to write it out only to convince myself that it doesn't need to be said. Everyone already knows these things. Why do I need to write about them? On good days, the words flow anyway. On not so good days, my saboteur gains the upper hand and I remain outwardly silent while my inner thoughts continue to spin wildly.
But, recently, I made an agreement with a very good friend. We both desired to free ourselves from the inner critic that stops us from saying what needs to be spoken or written. This need, we discovered, wasn't for the direct benefit of others but, instead, for our own peace of mind.
It began with a feeling statement. My friend wanted to express something emotional but was concerned how it would be received. His inner critic analyzed a multitude of reactions that could happen and cautioned him to remain quiet. Despite his trepidation, he spoke his thoughts aloud and, to his surprise, he felt lighter. The risk of expression brought clarity, which then inspired another moment of speaking what he really meant. Being a witness to his new found voice, I started to question whether or not I could do the same with my writing.
Those of you who know me, know I love to talk and I don't usually shy from vulnerable conversations. But when it comes to writing, being open with others seems threatening. It's as if all my old English teachers hover over my shoulder while I type, "tsking" and shaking their heads whenever I make something too personal. I'm not exactly sure when these naysaying voices appeared but I know they've been around for decades. Whether I'm writing a piece of fiction, a blog, or even a personal journal entry, I can feel their resistance pulling me away, sometimes even successfully getting me to stop altogether. I make excuses for not finishing a piece with the rationalization that it didn't really need to be said anyway.
Yet, when I don't write, I feel flat; almost two dimensional; a kite without wind lying on the ground, hoping to rise high and experience the endless views that only written words can express. I'm starting to appreciate the need to write is truly for me. I do love hearing when my words resonate with others but, more often, I'm really understanding that writing gives me clarity; it provides a sense of perspective and peace. Writing is one of my creative expressions that put me in direct relationship to my vulnerability.
And it's my vulnerability that I'm finding interesting; not some perfectly punctuated and grammatically checked version of me. Like my friend who learned the freedom of speaking his emotions, I'm freeing up internal space when I write, which inspires me to express and shine more of my authentic self. So, my Life's Little Toolbox now contains daily, weekly, and monthly writing practices:
Daily: I use my journal. Sometimes it's to ask questions. Sometimes, it's to vent emotions. Every day is different, but I make sure I do it consistently.
Weekly: I write to someone. Emails don't count unless I'm using them to share something that's close to my heart. I'm practicing taking the risk of putting something valuable into words for someone else to read.
Monthly: I work on my larger projects. Blogs, my book, short stories, and newsletters all challenge me to open up. This practice is the scariest and yet most exciting. It's also the practice I have the most resistance towards. But, now I know that when I sense the internal brakes being applied, it usually means I'm about to uncover something pretty profound; a treasure-trove of memories, ideas, and thoughts that have been fearfully protected for too long.
Opening myself through writing feels like cleaning out a jammed-pack closet. I find items I didn't know were there. I make use of what is useful. I can discard what no longer serves me. And I make space for new thoughts to come forth. Writing helps me grow and develop my unique voice. It's my life-line in times of darkness; hope during stress-filled moments; joy and excitement when I'm exuberant; and always an act of love that my highest self expresses to the wholeness of me.
If you are inspired to write, speak, or create what's in your heart, what would it be? How would you express yourself? How would your life change if you did it regularly? The benefits may surprise you as they did for me. But, you'll only experience them when you start this practice. There's no better time than the present moment.
"Everyone has their own ways of expression. I believe we all have a lot to say, but finding ways to say it is more than half the battle." - Criss Jami Salome': In Every Inch In Every Mile