“The wound is the place where the light enters you.”-Rumi
Right now, I’m thinking about tending to our wounds-the invisible wounds-the clenching of stomach, the ache in our chest, the flush feeling on our faces.
It’s easy to tend to the physical wounds. For a rash, we lather on the ointment. For a fever or cough, we pray it isn’t COVID and then we treat the symptoms until the pain goes away.
But for big emotions, the invisible but very REAL pain will continue to surface unless we can figure out what these emotions are trying to teach us.
Right now, I’m thinking of very specific types of pain. The hidden suffering and quietness that comes with being a compassionate type. The compassionate type of person who loves sad movies, minor key music like Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, and rainy days. The suffering that visits us late at night when all is quiet. The flattened feeling as if everywhere we look is covered with topsoil, yet nothing seems to grow.
Then there’s the more general types of pain (and by general I mean all of us experience and can relate to these types of pain). The guilt, shame, remorse, judgment caused by our inner critic can be debilitating but the cause and treatment of the pain can be unclear.
According to Dick Schwartz, founder of Internal Family Systems (IFS), we have many parts. One part you may be familiar with is your inner critic. But did you know that we have protector parts and each protector part has its own thoughts and feelings like a family but inside your mind.
The inner protector parts put your weakness and misdeeds into perspective. Your inner protector highlights your good qualities, encourages you to get back on track when you’ve lost your way, and tells the inner critic to take a hike-in a friendly tone!
Writing allows us to look objectively at our pain-to talk about the facts without adding “old interpretations” to them such as outdated stories that don’t serve us anymore.
The one way we can look objectively at the pain is by dialoguing with these overwhelming emotions. It’s important to remember these three things when we start to dialogue:
A great way to start this would be with a brief meditation but since we’re not recording this, I’ll offer a few tips to help you become more grounded but first, grab a piece of 8.5 x 11 paper and a pen or colored marker.
And we are going to begin by closing your eyes trying to find the part you want to know better. Notice if there’s any thoughts there or any words that pop into your mind, or urges that come up.
When you’re ready, open your eyes and write down any words that popped into your mind or urges that came up. What information might you get from looking at these words, images etc…
The more you do this, the better you get to know your parts and learn what the pain is trying to tell you.
Maybe you are wondering, “ how do I get started especially when I’ve never written anything before?” That’s the great thing about writing-it’s incredibly accessible.
Merely pick up a pen and begin.
I believe the magic of expressive writing is to be able to share our stories in community. None of us will make it through this life without having experienced some form of suffering.
The beauty of a writing community is that it is a safe space where we can listen to and tell stories that are brave, unapologetic, and true. We are here to write our way through to our future selves.
If you are interested in learning more about the Writing Bravely Group, click here!
To learn more about getting started with expressive writing, check out the Writing Bravely podcast series, Episode 2: How to Tell When Your Pain is Protecting You: dialoguing with our overwhelming emotions.