Below you will find the third of our six holistic wellness personal development blogs written by facilitators of The Novalis Ubuntu Institute’s Personal Development Programme 2017.
Amy Kaye from Write On South Africa will facilitate two workshops in the 2017 Personal Development Programme – ‘Writing as Therapy – Address, Heal, Create, Process’ and ‘A Letter Writing Workshop’.
Watch this space for more on what is on offer in March, April and May’s 2017 Personal Development Programme at The Novalis Ubuntu Institute.
Writing as therapy: Using writing as a creative tool for healing
We all want to connect but we’re frightened of what other people will think of us if we are truly honest. We have been taught from a young age not to be vulnerable as it is seen as a weakness. Yet, when we are authentic, honest and real, instead of being judged, the opposite happens – we connect. It makes us human and our stories become relatable. The process of writing your story is a powerful tool for transformation, self-discovery and creative expression.
Everyone has a unique story to tell but why should you tell yours? What makes you so special, different and interesting? Why would anyone care what you have to say or write?
Using writing as a therapeutic tool will empower you, help you build confidence in your ability to express yourself more clearly and not only will you figure out what you want to say but you will find the value of your story and how it can have a positive effect on others.
But why would anyone care about what you have to say? Because there is only one you in the world. Your experiences are as unique as you are and no one has or ever will again see what you’ve seen, done what you’ve done or experienced life from your perspective.
By telling your story, you will help someone else feel less alone. By telling your story, you will help heal or bring someone else back to life.
Writing is the cheapest therapy there is. It works on everything from anxiety to depression to stress. It has helped groups as diverse as unemployed South African youth looking to find their place in the world, sex workers and refugees to deal with personal trauma. There are no side-effects and it is available to anyone of any age that has access to a pen and paper.
The cost of pen and paper is cheaper than any medicine and the miracle treatment is as simple as putting words down based on your thoughts and feelings about who you are, where you have come from and where you are going.
The patient or writer is always in control in that you can always rewrite or reread the words you put down onto paper. Nothing is permanent and anything that is documented can be kept safe or destroyed. In talking therapies, this is not always true and there may be issues of trust or judgment. The paper never judges and can safely hold all your deepest darkest secrets.
Writing lets you choose your words, so it works well with people who are less able to verbalise their feelings or who are sceptical about talk therapy. It’s more concrete than just talking, and you can do it on your own, anywhere – there is no time limit.
In trauma survivors, parts of the brain which have evolved to monitor for danger have become over-activated and therefore can become triggered very easily. This can result in intense unpleasant emotions and overwhelming sensations causing the survivor to shut down emotionally to remain ‘safe’. Such post-traumatic reactions make it difficult for survivors to connect with other people, since that connection or closeness often triggers the sense of danger. However, the very thing we need in order to heal is close contact with other people – we need to be heard, to be acknowledged and feel safe around other people in order to move forward. Social support is not the same as merely being around other people. In order for us to grow, heal and on a physiological level calm down, we need to feel safe. Safe connections with other people is fundamental to mental health and living a meaningful life.
No doctor can write a prescription for supportive relationships but these are not concepts limited to trauma survivors. Trauma can turn the whole world into enemies and at the best of times, anyone can find it hard to connect. Once you own your story, you can begin to see the beauty of your own life and find the friendship, self care and love within that you may have been seeking externally.
Everyone needs confidence, support and to be acknowledged when telling our stories. We need to know that others will still care about us if we tell them who we really are and what we really think and feel. We think that if we are honest and vulnerable, we will be shunned but time and time again, the opposite happens. It takes courage and bravery to stand in the truth of your story and so we are amazed when people do.
As long as we feel safe and protected by those who love us (including believing in ourselves), we will swim across oceans, fight dragons and achieve the impossible. There can be no growth in society without a sense of childlike curiosity. We must question ourselves, the world around us and explore through trial and error who we are and what matters to us.
Not only do stories help you to connect with other people but through writing your story, you will connect with yourself and the importance of your part in history.
Words by Amy Kaye
Amy Kaye has been involved professionally in the creative arts since she was a child in theatre, radio and film and is a published writer and poet. She is the founder of Write On! which specialises in helping people unblock themselves creatively, get past psychological fears, tell their story and find their voice through writing.
With her background in documentary making, she also works as a producer for CapeTalk and for DKR films. Getting the opportunity to talk to thousands of callers affirmed to her that there was a great need for people to have their story heard. Having done various creative writing courses over the
years, she found that the emphasis was always on fiction and as a documentary maker found this frustrating. Write On! was then founded in order to create a safe and creative space for people to discover and empower themselves through writing.
Amy Kaye – Artistic Director & Founder
Write On – Because Everyone Has A Story To Tell