Sunday, 20 September 2020

What Your Hidden Heart Really Wants

While my writing certainly hasn't reached masterpiece level, it's evident I do have a history of writing my way through difficult periods of my life, beginning with teen angst then through my husband's cancer in 2006 to my mother's death in 2010. I'd assumed the reason I turned to journaling as I mourned my husband was because I was a writer. Weeks into my grief journey, however, I wondered how anyone could survive the experience without writing about it. In an attempt to understand my own, I began researching the topic of grief as though studying for a final exam: reading dozens of articles and articles about the grieving process. In doing so, I stumbled across repeated references to expressive writing as a healing tool. While diary-keeping is nothing new, the therapeutic potential of reflective writing came into vogue in the 1960s, when Dr Ira Progoff, a psychologist in New York, began offering intensive journaling workshops and classes. He'd been using a psychological notearticle method in his therapy clients for several years before that. THE INCREDIBLE POWER OF ONE One person, one voice, one vote and one action can make all the difference and even change the world. We live in a country in which, despite the horrendous price for freedom men and women paid before we were born, we hardly take full advantage of our liberties and exercise the greatest power that was ever to be bestowed upon us. I'm talking about the power to vote. But it goes way beyond just voting. It's the power of one. That's right, one person, one voice, once cause and one action that can change the world. Most people still live with the belief that what they do or what they say couldn't be that important. But they are wrong. Take a good look at what the power of one did to change the course of history: This child takes responsibility for the emotional well-being of the family, but in a very different way than the caretaker does. The mascot assumes the job of social director, constantly kidding and clowning around to divert the family's attention away from its prevailing pain and anger. She is the one the family counts on to lighten the mood and make them feel better.

It appears by her happy-go-lucky attitude that problems just roll off her back, but her resiliency is only a defense mechanism. The mascot deflects the reality of her tragic circumstances and expresses her pain through comic relief. Masquerading as the cut-up at home and class clown at school, she ambiguously expresses her feelings of powerlessness, sadness, anger, and resentment. She exemplifies herself as an object of ridicule through self-deprecating humor, ditsy behavior, or foolishness. Representing herself as a caricature of a human being, no one (including herself) takes her seriously. As adults, proficient at mitigating suffering through humor, many mascots become entertainers. Sadly, they will never enjoy the happiness they give others. It is only a matter of how consciously you do these ordinary things. LIVE YOUR INTENTIONS Of course, simply having intentions isn't enough. We have to take action to help those seeds grow. I don't believe in wishful manifesting, the idea that if you simply believe something will happen, it will. We can't sit around with true intentions expecting that what we want will fall into our laps. Nor can we expect someone to find us, discover how amazing we are, and hand us our place in the world. Nobody is going to create our lives for us. Martin Luther King Jr. When people come to me seeking guidance, I constantly hear, I wish. In the 1970s, he wrote several articles, including At a Journal Workshop, detailing his intensive journal process. Around the same time, Christina Baldwin released her article One to One: Self-Understanding through Journal Writing, based on the adult education journal classes she taught. But it is Dr James Pennebaker who is often lauded as the pioneer in studying expressive writing as a route to healing.

Pennebaker, Regents Centennial Chair of Psychology at the University of Texas in Austin, discusses his findings in his article Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressive Emotions, revealing how short-term, focused writing can have a beneficial effect for anyone dealing with stress or trauma. In his original study in the late 1980s, college students wrote for fifteen minutes total on four consecutive days about the most traumatic or upsetting experiences of their lives, while control subjects were instructed to write about superficial topics. Those in the experimental group showed marked improvement in immune system functioning and had fewer visits to the health center in the months following the study. Not only that, but despite an occasional initial increase in distress during the first session of writing, there was a marked improvement in their emotional health. In another one of Pennebaker's studies, fifty middle-aged professionals who were terminated from a large Dallas computer company were split into two groups. The first group wrote for thirty minutes a day, five days in a row, about their personal experience of being fired. The second group wrote for the same period of time on an unrelated topic. In 1645, one vote gave Oliver Cromwell control of England. In 1649, one vote caused Charles I of England to be executed. In 1776, one vote gave America the English language instead of German. In 1845, one vote brought Texas into the Union. In 1868, one vote saved President Andrew Johnson from impeachment. In 1876, one vote gave Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency of the United States. In 1923, one vote gave Adolf Hitler leadership of the Nazi Party. The point is, anyone can make a difference in changing the course of events in their lives and for those people around them. We think that we can't change laws in this country, yet, many powerful politicians say that isn't so. After a lifetime of repressing their own pain, they are likely to suffer from chronic depression. Never having developed an authentic self, they will always struggle with feelings of emptiness and loneliness. The Mastermind/Manipulator Child

Unlike the other three roles, the mastermind/manipulator has no positive virtues. She is sinister, selfish, and abusive. The mastermind controls the family. She is cunning in her survival skills. She copes, not through passivity or deflection, but through manipulation. The mastermind's manipulations are driven by haughty feelings of entitlement, quite like the narcissist himself. She is opportunistic, callous, and unrelenting when it comes to fulfilling her own needs, though shrewd enough to operate just below the radar. I wish my partner would be more attentive. I wish I could have the same job but make more money. I wish my relationship were more serious. We never say, I wish I could be more organized and focused and could do the hard work to get that. We don't vocalize what it would actually take to get what we want. I wish is code for I don't want to do anything differently. There's an apocryphal story about Picasso that perfectly illustrates how we fail to recognize the work and perseverance behind achievement. As the tale goes, a woman sees Picasso in a market. She goes up to him and says, Would you mind drawing something for me? Sure, he says, and thirty seconds later hands her a remarkably beautiful little sketch. Within three months, 27 percent of the expressive writers had landed jobs compared with less than 5 percent of the participants in the control group. Initially skeptical of Pennebaker's remarkable findings, Dr Edward J. Murray, a professor of psychology at the University of Miami, conducted his own investigations, eventually agreeing that writing seems to produce therapeutic benefits that include health, cognitive, self-esteem, and behavior changes.

Writing seems to produce as much therapeutic benefit as sessions with a psychotherapist, he concluded. Pennebaker's original expressive writing paradigm has been replicated in hundreds of studies, each measuring different potential effects of expressive writing. Not only has subsequent research confirmed his original findings regarding physical well-being, writing about emotionally charged topics has been shown to improve mental health, reducing symptoms of depression or anxiety. This has proven true in studies with those who have experienced loss, veterans experiencing PTSD, and HIV and cancer patients. Expressive writing now seems to be an accepted alternative holistic and non-medicinal form of therapy for emotional health. Pennebaker's research did reveal that the type of writing mattered; It was important to look for meaning in the experiences. So few people write or call them to express their views that the silence of the majority is taken by these politicians to mean that everyone is happy with the way things are going. No wonder these same politicians tend to listen more to those few who do call or write. Your voice, your ideas and your beliefs are just as important as those of anyone else, regardless of their money, power or prestige. Power is simply something we give somebody else because we choose to. Just as easily, you can take it away. It all begins with you, the power of one. JUST GET IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD The more I believe I will reach my goal, the less I need to know how. The more I think about having already arrived at my goal, the quicker I actually get there. So many times, people can't decide what they want to do with their lives, and it stops them from ever taking action or experiencing in the first place. Recognizing the dysfunction of her family, she uses it to her benefit. This child capitalizes on the weaknesses of her family members to get what she wants. In that pursuit, she will lie in wait, create conflict among family members, or pour on an insincere charm.

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