Why do we watch movies, listen to audiobooks, and write poetry, songs, and stories?! What makes storytelling compelling to all of us regardless of our knowledge, social classes, and our wide variety of interests?

In Jen Sincero’s book, You Are A Badass (2013), she shares personal anecdotes reflecting on her journey to finding her “true self” or “higher self” by changing her perspectives of the world we live in (35). Sincero addresses internal battles we may all have with ourselves about feeling overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated, and feeling “not good enough.” Providing many brief and insightful “how-to” lists to tackle each one of the obstacles, the key point that Sincero continuously emphasizes—and does so twenty times—is to

“LOVE YOURSELF” 

But how?

Every post about “self-care” and “loving yourself” talks about splurging on a spa day, exercising on a regular basis, eating well, listening to music, sleeping, and watching a show or investing into any activity that would make you “happy.” Although all those tips are helpful, I believe the one habit you should try is to write in a journal

A journal gives us the space we all need to reflect on ourselves from how we react to events during the day to how we are progressing with achieving our personal goals. Taking the time to write in a journal every daywill enable yourself to feel reassured that there is a safe space for you to record and reflect on your feelings, thoughts, and events you experience. 

Before you start writing, I ask you to consider Sincero’s advice to “believe that we live in a world of limitless possibilities” (14). Changing how we view our world allows ourselves to remove the barriers that limit our imagination to think beyond our comfort zones. Sincero emphasizes that “[we] are responsible for what [we] say and do. [We] are not responsible for whether or not people [around us] freak out about it” (Sincero 55). 

Perceiving our actions from this lens helps us realize that any reaction, behaviour, or event that is inflicted on us is beyond our control. We can only control how we react to any ‘good’ or ‘bad’ situation we are in. Writing liberates us from feeling trapped in the cycle of anger and frustration. 

Handwriting or typing your thoughts onto a blank page puts the thoughts and emotions that overwhelm you into a visual form. You can cross it out, draw it out, or make a word map for yourself to visualize and realize that the tasks you need to complete have many ways to resolve the issues and concerns at hand. 

“Writing is acting, an experiment through the ‘cloud of unknowing.’”

(Inhanus 72)

Ihanus (2005) discusses the benefits of writing and storytelling as a form of therapy and personal development. He shares that “by writing, one can reflect on one’s own and others’ thoughts and feelings. [It is] a reflective writing process [that] enhances openness to experience and to change. The writer not only expresses, but explores areas of experience, initially communicating with him or herself, with the ‘internal supervisor’” (72). 

By placing ourselves as the ““internal supervisor,” the writing process can help in reflecting, evaluating and steering, through meta-emotional and metacognitive processes, one’s own and others’ needs, aspirations and goals” (Inhanus 71). Writing helps us put ourselves in a different perspective to consider the positive outcomes of the situations we are in. 

“When we write, we access different aspects of ourselves, different characters, different parts of our brains and hearts. And then, when they’ve each had their say, we mentally switch hats, step back from accessing our myriad selves, and take a more distanced and critical view of what we’ve done.”

– David Byrne, How Music Works (2012)

Writing gives us the tool to express our thoughts and how we feel into a story that can be communicated and related to others. Writing is the reason why there are thousands of dollars invested into storytelling for television, film, novels, books, YouTube videos, interactive storytelling in virtual realities (VR) and augmented realities (AR), and most commonly in advertisements. 

Everyone wants to share their story to connect with other people and groups who can relate to the experience. We see a similar situation take place in Sincero’s book when she provides numerous personal anecdotes about her journey to loving herself. As readers, we open our minds to learning about Sincero’s experiences and give ourselves the opportunity to analyze if we feel similar or have encountered a similar situation. 

During pivotal moments in our lives, such as graduating from school, changing jobs or careers, moving to a new town or city, or coping with any type of change in our lives, we need a support system that will offer us the freedom to express ourselves. Writing gives us the space to do so. 

Our “stories” are written by our actions, conversations, and reflections in notebooks, journals, mobile apps, and laptops are “’virtual’ spaces and playgrounds and working grounds to test our different dimensions in moving worlds” (75). We control how our story unfolds. By writing everything we feel and think, we can reflect on our actions, learn what we can change to make ourselves happier despite any step backs or further obstacles we may encounter. Most importantly, writing gives us the opportunity to connect with others, to know there are other people who experience similar obstacles, and to enjoy the journey of searching, understanding, and loving our “true selves.” 

Works Cited:

Byrne, David. How Music Works. McSweeney’s Publishing Company, 2012. 

Ihanus, Juhani. “Touching stories in biblio-poetry therapy and personal development,” Journal of Poetry Therapy, Volume 18, Issue 2, 2005, pp. 71-84, DOI: 10.1080/08893670500140598.

Sincero, Jen. You Are A Badass. Running Press Book Publishers, 2013.

Images: 

1. “Spider-Man leaning on concrete brick while trying to read” by roadtripwithraj via Unsplash; https://unsplash.com/photos/o4c2zoVhjSw.

2.“Stickers on a notebook” by Ian Schneider via Unsplash; https://unsplash.com/photos/8COAUK8ckv8

3.“Person writing in book” by mylifejournal via Unsplash; https://unsplash.com/photos/OnFW5djcAYc.

4.“Opened book photo” by mylifejournal via Unsplash; https://unsplash.com/photos/AYQG4SjWTy

5. “Begin” by Danielle MacInnes via Unsplash; https://unsplash.com/photos/IuLgi9PWETU