Self-Care Challenge (Day 306): Writing Down My Soul

Book cover with owl

My 9th grade English teacher talked to ants.

Each time a student in class answered a question incorrectly, Mrs. Atkinson would walk over to the window and lean out, mumbling to the ants below while shaking her head in disgust. It was her way of showing us how frustrated she was that we “didn’t get” something she was trying to teach us. I’m certain she thought she was being humorous.

But, honestly, it just made us feel dumb.

Eventually, most of us became unwilling to answer her questions at all, and we absolutely dreaded the possibility of being called upon randomly. Which one of us would be next to be publicly shamed with the ants?

As much as I loved English, and had both enjoyed and excelled in every other English class I had taken to that point, I felt intimidated and inadequate in her class. And my grades showed it.

Each time I put words on paper, I second guessed myself. I edited, revised, and started over completely a number of times before I had the courage to finally turn in a final draft. I say draft because it would inevitably be returned to me with so much red ink that it looked more like a painting than a work of literature.

It’s amazing how those negative experiences stick with you over the years, stifling your creativity.

I’ve become more bold with my writing in recent years, reminding myself that Mrs. Atkinson and her ants are no longer critiquing my work. I know that my writing isn’t perfect–in style, format, or any other rule involving the use of words–but I’ve embraced my right to express myself, imperfections and all.

And when I stumbled upon the book Writing Down My Soul (Amazon Associate link) by Janet Conner, it opened up yet another window for me.

While this kind of writing isn’t meant to be read by others, it provides an opportunity to write freely, without judgement–from ourselves or others–as a means of uncovering thoughts and desires that we often bury deep within our soul. Writing down your soul is more like a conversation with your creator. Conner describes it this way: “Once you start engaging in rich, deep conversations with something higher, bigger, deeper, and wiser than yourself, you’ll find yourself contemplating ideas you’ve never considered, saying things you’ve never said, and asking questions you’ve never asked.”

This kind of writing makes it impossible to be anything but authentic, and the author believes that engaging in this writing for 30 days straight also creates new neural pathways–which can actually change the way we think.

If you enjoy the benefits of regular journaling already, then it might be an interesting experiment to read this book and see what happens over the next 30 days with your writing.

A word of caution though: don’t expect a series of a-ha moments. Conner describes the process as a “layered discovery that reveals itself page by page over time.”

I’d love to know what you discover!

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