I’m a big fan of writing to heal and telling our story. I’ve been consistently engaging in this healing-type of writing for the past three years, studying the field for the past year and a half and helping women to lean into the discomfort of penning their stories for almost a year.
I don’t ever want to make it seem that by simply putting things on paper, our lives will magically transform. It can transform over time, especially when we engage in the right type of writing and we do so from a place of openness, authenticity and truth. You see, telling our stories can be hard, even if we are telling them to ourselves.
It’s he or she who’s willing to be the most uncomfortable can rise strong – Brené Brown.
I’m a huge fan of researcher, author, social worker and storyteller, Brene Brown. I have all her books and have listened to all her talks I’ve found online. Her work has changed the way I look at myself and my life. I recommend all my clients check out her work. Brene in her book Rising Strong, talks about leaning into the discomfort, the topic of my post today.
To experience the benefit of this type of writing, we have to be vulnerable and we have to be open to discomfort. Touching on difficult topics can trigger emotions as we re-live them through words. Have you ever told someone ‘I don’t want to talk about it’, when a painful subject was brought up? We do this because we don’t want to relive the experience by retelling it and we do the same thing when we don’t write our stories. But here’s the thing –
When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; instead, they own us, they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends. ― Brené Brown,
So we lean into the discomfort and tell our stories. We may not be able to share them with a friend but we can always put them on paper. We wade in the discomfort, lean into it, re-live the tough emotions because we understand that many times, they best way through something is to go through it, fully engaged. No short cuts. No quick fixes, but going through, fully immersed and engaged. When my abusive marriage ended, I did just that. I understood that in some ways, I just got my life back and I wanted to make this second phase better. But things needed to change.
You will always get what you’ve always got when you do the same things you’ve always done. I couldn’t afford therapy, but I had my pen, journal and willingness to be open, real and vulnerable with myself, if only on paper. So I wrote. And I filled journals upon journals. I leaned into the discomfort and wrote about what it felt like to be abused, how the abuse changed me. I also looked at the tough topics – why was I complicit in the abuse, why did I stay? It was hard. I cried. I wanted to stop, but I realized that I had to go through this process if I were to live my best life, the life I have and love today.
It’s so easy to anesthetize our pain. We hop from relationship to relationship because we don’t want to touch the things we feel will hurt us and look for comfort in a partner. It is easier to get a new man than look at our unhealthy relationship patterns. Or we numb with drugs, alcohol, recreation and other forms of distraction, all because we refuse to lean into the discomfort that can really bring about meaningful and lasting change in our lives. Perhaps it’s time to take a different approach? Maybe we should desire discomfort over numbing and quick fixes?
People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses. ― Brené Brown,
Carlana Charles is the visionary and editor-in-chief of FemmePowered. She is a womanist, writer, speaker, story midwife and facilitator of meaningful and engaging conversations. When she is not working in or on FemmePowered, she can be found resting, baking, reading or scribbling furiously in her journal whilst sipping wine or coffee, sometimes both at the same time. She is currently working on her first book and hopes to release it in September 2017.