The write answer. What can I do with a difficult experience? January 29, 2018 News When something difficult happens to us, we often relive the experience over and over in our heads, re-hashing the pain…and the blame. We ruminate…an endless spinning of our cognitive wheels, which doesn’t move us toward healing and growth. What can? It’s here that expressive writing can help. This isn’t about creating a masterpiece; it’s just getting something down on paper about the incident or experience. It’s not a diary of superficial events; but free exploration into something that upset us. Just write about it, for twenty minutes, write! Write everything that upset and hurt you – the people, the events. Studies show that in such writing, as we get things out, we’re forced to confront feelings and ideas, and give them structure, which may lead to new perspectives appearing. (These don’t appear in rumination, which is just one endless repeat of the narrative inside our head.) In writing down what happened and how we feel, we’re getting the story out of ourselves and gaining both perspective and a sense of control. And maybe hope. Once we’ve explored the difficult aspects of the experience, we might notice some of its upsides, the hidden silver linings. We could perhaps try to list some positive things about it. For example, I lost my job in an unhappy manner, yes; but while I now earn less, I save over an hour a day on travel. And I’ve made a couple of friends at my new job. Oh, and the sky hasn’t fallen in. Writing freely about our difficulties helps heal them, release them; and transforms them into wisdom. It can also dissolve pessimism. A 2014 study showed this sort of writing is particularly beneficial for staunch pessimists, prone to depression. Write freely…and you may become free.