Dear Diary: Writing Practices As A Way To Understand Yourself

A life 2022
Dear Diary: Writing Practices As A Way To Understand Yourself
Dear Diary: Writing Practices As A Way To Understand Yourself

Video: Dear Diary: Writing Practices As A Way To Understand Yourself

Video: How to Write \u0026 Hide A Diary 2022, December
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We all document our lives in one way or another. via social media, blogs, or even personal diaries. Many people have heard about the therapeutic effect of a diary and think they know how to keep it correctly in order to squeeze the maximum benefit from intuitive introspection. In fact, with written practices, everything is a little more complicated: not all records have a therapeutic effect, not all diary systems can be suitable for a specific person (some may even harm), well, their tasks are also different. To understand where to start keeping a useful diary, what is the difference between different methods and what rules to follow so as not to harm yourself, we have prepared a short note.

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Masha Vorslav

Who and why

invented to keep a diary

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Before a person had modern means of communication, writing was his main means of communication - not only with the outside world, but also with himself. Diaries were kept in different ways and about different things: the Japanese ladies-in-waiting recorded the inner kitchen of the imperial court, the Quakers - the feelings from their spiritual research, the passengers of the Mayflower - the hardships of the transatlantic voyage. Through a centuries-old abyss, all these writings are united by a psychological component: regardless of the content of the diary, its side property has always been a projection of the author's inner state. Depending on how disciplined, eloquent and honest the writer was, his more or less clear portrait emerged. The fact that it may not only be of interest to outside readers (in the case of memoirs or biographies), but also useful for deep introspection, was one of the first to think about the American social worker and psychotherapist Ira Progoff, who developed an accessible system of therapy and self-help (in the well-known limits).

In the 50s of the last century, that is, at the beginning of his career, Progoff decided to build on the ideas of depth psychology and studied the trajectories of its prominent adherents. Most of all he was interested in Jung's approach: he, unlike Sigmund Freud, Otto Rank and Alfred Adler, believed that any client has sufficient resources for self-knowledge and self-help. But Jung insisted on the need for expensive analytical therapy, which not everyone could afford, and the tangible participation of the psychotherapist (according to Progoff, the doctor's charisma only prevents a person from understanding his own unique system of symbols and reflexes, on the existence of which Jung insisted). Progoff's humanistic approach pushed him to seek a spiritual practice that would allow even a poor person to receive psychological help. In addition, it was important for him to hide the figure of the doctor as much as possible, so that in the course of therapy a person would rely on his own resources and be guided by his own assessments.

What is a method

Progoff and why is it needed

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Progoff did not find anything of the kind, so he had to invent his own system. Over the years of practice and teaching, he understood what personal diaries lack in order not only to smooth out momentary emotions, but also to become the core of therapy (predecessors considered the diary to be only an auxiliary tool). According to Progoff, a personal diary is often only a platform for recording what happened, and not a way of self-knowledge. “When a diary is associated only with a specific goal (finding a new job, for example), it loses its meaning after achieving it. With him, you can comfortably go through a specific period, but not explore your personality,”explained the therapist. The method of intensively keeping a structured diary helps to consider a person's life as a single story, to become aware of their past experiences and assess future prospects.In other words, sort out relationships and work problems, deal with stress, and figure out how to move on - after a traumatic situation and in general.

Progoff's method is to regularly keep a diary, thematically divided into four parts (by the way, the notebook should not be sewn, but on rings, so that at any time you can add pages where necessary). If you relax well before writing and not be distracted, you will be able to record not only rational reasoning, but also "twilight" observations - that is, those that come to mind of any person when he is engaged in monotonous activities like running or knitting. Progoff considered "twilight perception" a very important part of therapy to gain a more complete picture of the past and present. In its original form, the method required the participation of a qualified facilitator to regulate group writing practices. Facilitators are still being trained in diary therapy centers (The Center of Journal Therapy, Therapeutic Writing Institute, for example), but thanks to the fact that Progoff eventually published At a Journal Workshop, today anyone can keep a structured diary without resorting to to the center's help. True, in this case, you need to be especially vigilant and monitor your psychological state yourself: it is quite normal to feel sad for a couple of hours after writing, but if with each immersion in yourself it becomes worse, you should contact a psychotherapist (this rule is common for any written practice) …

What is the difference

writing practices

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Most of the writing practices are not aimed at analyzing the whole life, but at solving pressing problems. In other words, if disciplined self-discovery is not part of your plans, but you need to understand emotions or understand why an old trauma aggravates the soul, the Progoff method will not work, but you can turn to the ideas of other psychotherapists.

Near-therapeutic services deserve special attention, offering to write from 280 characters to 750 words per day. In fact, they are no different from a regular personal diary, except for a slightly more complex motivation system. But 750 words is three pages of text and is large enough for the writer to dive too deeply into their own experiences. Therapists warn that unstructured, timeless and thematic writing is dangerous for the most traumatized people: they usually cannot recognize the moment when it is worth stopping and no longer immersed in a painful topic. Psychotherapist Caitlin Adams noticed this and offered some of her clients a simple scheme: as a written practice, they only had to complete a sentence like “Right now I want to…”, “My biggest fear is…”, “Today I feel…”. If the writers had a desire to reveal the idea, Caitlin would measure out 5 minutes - just enough, in her opinion, enough for the notes to have a therapeutic effect without endangering the psyche. This rule can be adopted by anyone who wants to acquire the habit of keeping a diary, but fears its depressive effect. A diary is not a place to squeeze out more and “better,” and even short, regular notes will be useful for character analysis.

Does it replace

diary psychotherapy

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The diary can be both a central and an auxiliary element of psychotherapy. The usefulness of presenting thoughts on paper (or in a text editor) is unlikely to be denied by at least one psychotherapist, but not everyone will build all their work around him. In any case, for those who really need the help of a specialist, even the most structured diary will not be enough (but, perhaps, it will be he who will show that something is wrong and will push to make an appointment with a doctor).Ideally, any person should turn to psychologists and psychotherapists from time to time, at least to make sure that everything is fine, but if this is not possible, you can try to study yourself on your own - subject to all the necessary safety precautions.

How to choose a technique

and how not to harm yourself

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As we have already said, there are a lot of diary methods, you can try at least everything. It is most reasonable to look for techniques in the books of psychotherapists: "A Journal To Self" or "The Healing Power of Writing" for example. If you are not sure that the diary is yours at all, you can try with simple techniques like huge lists (“100 things that I appreciate”, “100 ways I help others”) - sounds very naive and at the same time grandiose. but it is precisely due to the scale that it is possible to include not only logic, but also circumconscious mechanisms. You can write letters to the table; it helps to cope with oppressive strong emotions that you, for various reasons, do not want to splash out on a particular person. The familiar mind mapping can also be used for a diary (in situations where you need a cool solution or an unclouded look, such cards are just what you need). When searching on your own, it is worth approaching with caution only those sources that recommend free writing: the absence of any instructions on the topic or time may be unsafe in those cases when the author of the diary is trying to work through a traumatic situation or is in a depressed state …

The guidelines for journaling are more or less the same everywhere. It is important to remember that the journal is only needed to make you better - that is, any long-term deterioration in mood will be sufficient reason to stop writing (at least temporarily) or choose another technique. You need to write in a calm state, in a place where you will not be disturbed, and at a time when you will not worry about unfinished business. One of the most important requirements of any diary technique is honesty with yourself, so it is useful to make sure that no one ever finds your diary. Another important thing follows from the requirement of honesty: a personal text should not be ideal from a stylistic point of view, it may contain errors, missing punctuation marks and foreign words, the main thing is that it should convey what you would like to capture as accurately as possible.

Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4 via Shutterstock, Wiki Art

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