How the Mindfulness of Expressive Writing Can Help You Develop Self-empowerment
“Superficial to understand the journal as just a receptacle for one’s private, secret thoughts—like a confidante who is deaf, dumb, and illiterate. In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could do to any person; I create myself. The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood. It represents me as emotionally and spiritually independent. Therefore (alas) it does not simply record my actual, daily life but rather — in many cases — offers an alternative to it.”
— Susan Sontag
The Strength of Words
When we read, we can come across a line or a passage that moves us. The effect may be so great as to make us pause and take a moment for reflection, or slowly savor the images conjured up in our minds’ eye. We are taken outside of ourselves, beyond the here and now, and our perspectives shift. Even with such a minute redirection and only for an instant, we are not who we were before.
In times like these the pen is truly mightier than the sword, for even though the sword may smite the body quite fiercely, it is the pen that can strike at the soul so deeply that it is transformed, more fully alive. Imagine then if your own words can be wielded so, not to diminish yourself, but to rebuild and strengthen.
Empowerment and Awareness
By strict definition, empowerment means the granting of or having the capability to perform various duties or actions. Taken further, it refers to an intentional process whereby individuals, groups, or whole communities take control of their lives. This involves methods of identifying their circumstances and utilizing their own potential to achieve their chosen goals. Through this process they are able to help themselves and others to improve the quality of their lives.
Women would significantly benefit from the resilience and strength developed through self-empowerment. Due to the predilections dictated by our biology and existing dissimilarities in socioeconomic conditions, we need to reclaim ourselves to fulfill our potential.
On a more personal note, it involves developing confidence in your own ability to make and act on your decisions. It entails making better choices for yourself, as well as working towards realizing these goals. Understanding yourself, with all your strengths and weaknesses, and having the motivation to learn how to take control of your life are part and parcel of self-empowerment.
What sets you on this path of self-determination is self-awareness. Getting to know yourself better is a groundbreaking step in this journey, and is vital in helping you chart your best course for further growth. Being self-aware means making a realistic assessment of who you are right now, all those positive and negative aspects of yourself, and your limits.
Self-Awareness Through Writing
Keeping a journal and writing for yourself is given another perspective, beautifully encapsulated within the quote above. Aside from enabling you to unravel those tangled thoughts and clarify chaotic emotions, expressive writing assists in realizing who you truly are and what you want to become.
These deceptively simple tools: pen, paper, and ink, become indispensable when used effectively for critical reflection. Collectively they become a sounding board, allowing you a safe, personal place to concretize and organize the life that you are living. It likewise documents your transformation throughout the journey of self-discovery. With a journal and pen, anyone can have an easily accessible, self-therapeutic method for introspection. (We have also discussed a related topic in a previous article - Writing with the Heart in Mind.)
Writing As A Conscious Act
The simple, physical act of writing by hand, especially with a fountain pen, is in itself an exercise in making coherent connections. It is a sensate and grounding reminder of how human we still are in the midst of advances in technology. The intentional marks that we make on paper are unique to each of us. They are the footprints of our innermost self, not easily erased by the tapping of keys nor the touch of a fingertip. Even the mistakes and the crossing-out of words on paper portray the evolution of our perceptions. From our minds those ideas flow and ebb, sometimes colored heavily by emotion. Then with the hand, we seek to shape the noise into a story that we can follow and come back to again and again.
It is no wonder that we tend to choose our tools of creation carefully. Fountain pens are one of the best instruments for mindful, introspective writing (a bit more on this topic in Draw The Line).
Writing Towards Self-Empowerment
Writing is a gift you continually offer to yourself. It is a dynamic testament to your growth as an individual, helping you reevaluate each milestone on the chosen path towards self-empowerment. To elaborate, here are a few guide posts to consider on your own journey with pen, ink, and paper as your trusty companions:
What has been happening in your life that results from your own behaviors, or from external factors outside your influence? What can you control? Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Take note of how you would respond to certain situations. This helps you harness your positive qualities and modify the negative ones that hinder you. Take into account your personal values, beliefs, and opinions. Recognize your commitments. Then reflect on whether or not they are still valid.
Identify Your Goals.
What parts of your life are you unhappy with? Which of these can you change? Be truthful. Use what you have identified to set your direction. Focus your energy on those intentions that are important to you and which support your values. Make these goals achievable yet challenging.
What are the resources available to help you attain your goals? What are the skills or abilities that you already have to put these plans into action? What are the other aspects in your life that need to be nurtured in order to thrive? Which ones weigh you down that need to be changed or let go? Learn to recognize that help is available if you need it. Never stop learning. Self-empowerment is a continuous and dynamic process.
Did your efforts make a positive impact on your life? Which course of action took you closer to achieving your goal? And which ones need some modification? Assess yourself. Acknowledge your successes, even the seemingly smallest ones. This way, you feed your self-empowerment by tracking the constructive changes that result from your concentrated endeavors. Even failures or errors are viable sources of information to help fine-tune your focus. Self-esteem is a key motivator (and limiter) in your path towards being more resilient and stronger.
This journey, and the many paths you choose to reach your destination, can be transcribed in your journal (or several). Having a physical record aids in enhancing the experience of recalling your thoughts and emotions during a particular point in your life. More often than not, the visual and tactile reminders gleaned from your own handwriting can help you recall the moment more clearly - note how well-spaced the words are, pointing to a certain calmness, or feel how the letters seem etched onto the paper, revealing the depth of emotion at the time of writing.
Remember, self-empowerment is in your own hands. It would be supportive to have something you can hold as a witness to your transformation.
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Written by Lekz Umali
Check out her art on Instagram!