By Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. via The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma and published in NYMAG
Feature Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Join Bessel at Hollyhock for Trauma, Body, and the Brain: Restoring the Capacity for Rhythm and Play on August 14-19, 2016.
Most of us have poured out our hearts in angry, accusatory, plaintive, or sad letters after people have betrayed or abandoned us. Doing so almost always makes us feel better, even if we never send them. When you write to yourself, you don’t have to worry about other people’s judgment — you just listen to your own thoughts and let their flow take over. Later, when you reread what you wrote, you often discover surprising truths.
As functioning members of society, we’re supposed to be “cool” in our day-to-day interactions and subordinate our feelings to the task at hand. When we talk with someone with whom we don’t feel completely safe, our social editor jumps in on full alert and our guard is up. Writing is different. If you ask your editor to leave you alone for a while, things will come out that you had no idea were there. You are free to go into a sort of a trance state in which your pen (or keyboard) seems to channel whatever bubbles up from inside. You can connect those self-observing and narrative parts of your brain without worrying about the reception you’ll get. Continue reading Why You Should Write a Letter to Yourself Tonight