Since the pandemic, a lot of people have been feeling anxious, depressed, or are just not thriving. I recently came out of a rough time myself. When I tried to identify the biggest reason I feel so much happier and more optimistic now, the main thing I can point to is this practice called journalspeaking. It’s an efficient way to process emotional pain.
The term was coined by therapist Nicole Sachs, pictured above. Nicole hosts a popular podcast, The Cure for Chronic Pain. Every episode of the podcast is gold, no matter you have the specific symptoms discussed in it or not.
The cause of chronic pain is the same for everyone: the sympathetic nervous system has been triggered into fight-or-flight-or-freeze mode often enough, by stress or fear, that the brain gets confused and begins sending pain signals to the body even when there’s no danger present.
Both the podcast and Nicole’s short book, The Meaning of Truth, give example stories of people who’ve healed a wide variety of terrible-sounding and sometimes life-threatening physical symptoms using her practice of journalspeaking.
Journalspeaking is when you write about your darkest feelings–like, the worst, most unspeakable things that come up from your subconscious, most importantly, anger.
Weirdly, I had no idea I had repressed anger. One reason we repress dark feelings and are unaware we have them is because we deem them socially unacceptable. Especially if we think of ourselves as a “good person.”
This part is key: After you get out your anger, grief, insecurity, jealousy, etc., you should delete the document or tear it up and put it in the trash. Knowing you’re going to hit “delete” frees you up to say what you really feel.
For me, typing is better than writing longhand. There’s something automatic that occurs, in which my subconscious mind seems to take over, when I’m typing on a keyboard.
Nicole says that whether or not you believe you have an inner child, she is certain we all do. And she says, “Until you give your inner child a voice, they’re running the show.”
Journalspeaking allows your inner child (or bitchy teen!) to rant and get out the worst. I don’t want to scare you off of it, but I’m just going to be honest here. If you’re really dredging up your anger, grief, loss, etc., you will likely cry. Be glad. Crying just gets the toxic stuff out of you faster. Give yourself extra credit points for every time you cry!
After each journalspeaking session, you’ll be stunned at how much more lighterhearted you feel. I can bawl my eyes out while typing breathtakingly painful fears, thoughts and memories, then 10 minutes later, I feel like a new person. It’s surreal, and incredible.
Another surprising thing is that you’ll have a lot more love, compassion and patience for the very people you rail against in your journalspeaking after you vent about them.
Nicole points out that once you speak your ‘truth,’ your truth will change. For example, when journalspeaking, it’s okay to say you “hate” your kids/mother/father/sibling/best friend. Those feelings will likely morph once you’ve let them come up.
Also, what I have found is that eventually, you will work your way down to anger at yourself. (Which is kind of a surprise. I thought it was just all these a-holes I’ve had to deal with that were making me so unhappy! Turns out, it’s my own codependence and other self-rejecting actions that have, in part, made me so miserable.) (I know–this is probably starting to sound like a lot of self-help jargon! But I hope those of you who are in pain will get it.)
So, Nicole recommends doing a 10-minute self-love and self-compassion meditation after each journalspeaking session. (Yeah, yeah. I ignore this advice, too. But maybe that’s the very thing we both need! More self-compassion and forgiveness!)
If you journalspeak for 20 minutes 2x a day for 30 days, I promise you will see a major reduction in your physical symptoms and YOU WILL FEEL A TON HAPPIER. It changed my life and I can’t recommend it enough.
Nicole’s book, The Meaning of Truth, on Amazon
Nicole’s website (she often hosts in-person retreats, which sound cool)