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Write your way through any storm

By • Feb 7th, 2008 • Category: Personal Development, Time Management

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This could be the year that you’ll sail on calm seas and reel in the best that life has to offer. For some of us though, turbulence maybe waiting just beyond today’s calm waters. For some of us, our worlds will explode and everything we hold dear will fall in fragments around us.  It’s easy then to let the emotional devastation overwhelm us and cause us to lose our sense of direction and sink into the dark, murky waters of despair.

Journaling is an easy and effective way to deal with the pounding waves and battering winds. It can help us to understand the storm’s true impact on our lives and to regain the will, power and strength to gather the shattered pieces, apply the appropriate glue to mend them and move on with the business of living.


Certain events can easily throw us overboard, disrupt our normal lives, shatter our emotions and leave us struggling and sinking out at sea. Periodically we surface just long enough to see that we have drifted far from the familiar shores of our lives and have instead settled into a strange treading pattern, breathless and disoriented. Parents often insist that they have to stay strong and survive for their children. But we have to survive for our own sakes as well.

Here are two things to keep in mind as you consider using a journal to stay afloat in the ocean of your crisis. 

Start early.

As early as possible after the storm hits, reach for your journal or any notebook and start writing. Forget eloquence, flawless prose, accurate sentence structure and precise grammar. Instead, focus on writing out your disappointment, your pain, your anger etc. But don’t let your preconceived ideas or my advice hem you into writing certain things and in a particular way. Write your way, whatever it may be; individual words, stream of thoughts like a prayer, a letter to the person who has hurt you, or to someone who might be going through the same torment.

Visualize land.

As in most instances in life, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled on the horizon — the life to which you hope to return or your dream destination. In the grand scheme of things, it might only be a hazy strip in the far distance but keep paddling by writing as often as possible. Journaling provides a way to ground yourself, at least for little snatches of time. It is a safe, private haven where you pour out your confusion and sorrow and still maintain the composure and grace to carry out your daily functions.

When our hearts are broken, seemingly beyond repair and the pain feels so real, we clutch whatever we can to keep ourselves afloat. Reaching for your journal is far better than launching an attack or “spilling the beans” inappropriately.

The record you keep now for your sanity can one day be the catalyst for initiating a positive turnaround for you or for someone else going through his or her own crisis. Library shelves and the Internet are loaded with stories written by survivors of some of life’s most devastating incidents and many of them started with journal entries as memory aids and therapy. And they provide a clear record of their struggles, hopes, deliverance and triumphs. 

Your circumstances are no less worthy of pen and paper. The account of your turmoil and how you survived will live on in your journal long after the event and serve as a reference for lighting the way for you in some other unfortunate situation or furnish you with just the right words to comfort and encourage someone else.

Keeping a journal helped me to brave the fear of my deepest feelings, bring them to the fore and engage with them to understand my reactions to the storms in my life. The practice also taught me how to gain a different perspective on life’s events based on my spiritual beliefs.

Only when I forced myself to reread my journals did I discover how a particular period of my life appeared to me. My written record read like the delirious mumblings of someone in the throes of an insane fever. The handwriting was almost illegible. But the pain, was so evident right there in black and white, sprawled across the pages. Naturally it evoked some red hot tears of remembrance. But between the lines, in the midst of the obvious anguish, it was evident that I was hopeful when despair and mental exhaustion diluted my emotions.

As a writer, I have found value in my journal not only for myself. But I hope, words of comfort, advice and encouragement that will help turn today’s victims into tomorrow’s survivors. Often I unearth something that strikes at the core of a topic I am researching or the pain I hear in someone’s voice or see in their eyes. That something, that experience, that truth, my truth inspires me to look at life, my life from a different perspective and provides me with globs of soothing balm to help ease someone else’s pain, clarify their confusion and revive their hope.

When you find yourself sinking in the current of an agonizing, confusing time of your life, take your journal and write your pain, grief, loss and prayers of hope in it. The practice will help you brave the storm and reach land once more.

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