One of the measures Susan Cain uses in her Quiet quiz to determine whether a person is an Introvert or an Extrovert, is the statement: ‘I often prefer to express myself in writing’. It’s probably not a surprise to you that this statement rings true for me and what this month’s 30-day blogging challenge has shown me is just how powerful a tool writing is in my life.

There are several ways writing helps me to understand how I feel about what is going on in my life and to process those feelings. One of the first things I noticed when I started writing this blog was how taking a subject and writing about it would often reveal things to me about the subject that I hadn’t even felt aware of before I started to write.

It has also become clear to me that when I have unresolved feelings about a topic, if try to write a blog post about it I won’t be able to get my thoughts out articulately. Usually this indicates to me that I still have some thinking or learning to do on the subject and I’m, therefore, not ready to share my thoughts on it just yet.

For years I’ve read and been told how effective journaling can be for processing thoughts and feelings and gaining clarity and perspective on things that come up for us in life. I’m terrible at keeping up with my journal and I always have been, but my 30-day challenge has got me into the habit of checking in with what I’ve learnt or experienced each day and making sense of it by writing about it and I think that perhaps I finally get what all the journaling fuss has been about.

There is something about holding a pen above crisp white paper or fingers poised above the keys of my laptop that allows me to tap into my thoughts and feelings in a way that simply thinking or talking about them cannot. It’s as if by writing, I get to the layer beneath what my conscious mind is aware of.

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling really low but I wasn’t sure why. I had some obvious complaints about my current situation but I wasn’t ready to admit to myself just how much my situation was affecting me. A good indication that I’m trying to deny something to myself is when I withdraw from contact with my closest friend. There is something about our friendship that means when she asks me how I am, I’m unable to respond with anything but the whole truth and on feeling resistant to talk to her, I knew that I was in denial about something so rather than call her, I decided to write to myself.

I opened a new document and I typed the words: Confessions to myself and I then proceeded to write out exactly how I felt about everything that was going on for me at that point. I was surprised by some of the things that I wrote but when I finished, I felt lighter and the solution to my problems seemed crystal clear. Having admitted to myself what was wrong, I was also then able to send my page of confessions to my best friend and have a good long conversation about it with her.

I’ve been writing a blog for over a year now and it has only just dawned on me how therapeutic writing is for me so I wanted to share this recent discovery with you in the hopes that if you don’t write already, that you might be inspired to use it as a tool to get in touch with how you really feel about things. It doesn’t have to be writing in a journal everyday, which for me has always felt too much like hard work, but just as and when you are feeling stuck. Perhaps you’re struggling with a decision or you feel really low but don’t really know why, if so just pick up a pen or open your laptop and see what comes, you might be surprised by what it reveals.