“Writing is a path of profound self-awareness.” Mark Matousek
How can writing help us learn more about who we are, and release more creativity? One answer is writing can be a powerful tool for accessing our shadow self.
“Creativity always requires taking a chance on one’s self meeting one’s unconscious, or shadow…”
Psychologist Stephen Diamond in his review of The Courage to Create by Rollo May, quoted in my post Developing Creativity: Courage and Creating.
Stephen Fry once asked ‘Harry Potter’ author J.K. Rowling about “not holding back from the difficult and the frightening and the treacherous and the unjust and all the things that most exercise children’s minds.”
Rowling replied, “I feel very strongly that there is a move to sanitize literature because we’re trying to protect children not from, necessarily, from the grizzly facts of life, but from their own imaginations.”
Her books confront many difficult experiences in life, including dying, that may form part of our shadow self.
Rowling was deeply affected by the death of her mother in 1990 from multiple sclerosis.
“My mum died six months into writing (the books), and I think that set the central theme – this boy dealing with loss,” she says.
From my post Harry Potter and positive psychology.
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As a child, Andrea Ashworth and her sisters suffered emotional, physical, and sexual abuse from two stepfathers. Her memoir recounts her experiences.
She went on to become one of the youngest research Fellows at Oxford University, where she earned her doctorate.
In our interview, she talked about how writing her memoir “Once in a House on Fire” was “a real sanity-saving exercise” and a way to deal with her past, then move on to writing fiction.
From my post Traumatic Childhood, Creative Adult.
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Life coach, career expert and CEO Stacia Pierce writes about another artist who used journaling:
“In her interview with Oprah, Black Eyed Peas front woman Fergie shared some of the steps she took to overcome her addiction to crystal meth.
“She started journaling as a part of therapy and began to not only ‘figure herself out’ (her own words) but she tapped into the power of creatively visualizing her future and writing her truest desires in a journal.
“She wrote in her journal that she wanted to have a #1 song and to win a Grammy.
“Despite feelings of guilt or unworthiness after all she had been through, she silenced her inner critics, embraced her inner winner, and tuned into her truest desires.
“Fergie not only had a very successful solo-album, but she went on to win eight Grammys!”
12 Reasons to Keep a Journal by Stacia Pierce, The Huffington Post.
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Mark Matousek is “a bestselling author, teacher and speaker whose work focuses on personal awakening and creative excellence through self-inquiry and life writing.” (From a Shift Network bio.)
He affirms in a post on using transformational writing such as memoir, that the venture “is known to reduce stress, accelerate physical healing, decrease the need for therapy, increase happiness levels, and offer profound spiritual benefits to those who commit to its practice.”
He offers a number of suggestions to make writing a powerful exploration for both author and readers.
“Like all spiritual practices, writing is focused on self-liberation and answering the ancient question, ‘Who am I?’
“Until you penetrate your own shadow, and explore the gifts – as well as the shame – that you hide there, you cannot truly know yourself or access your deep creativity.”
Not denying our thoughts and feelings
“Desire is the lifeblood of creative and spiritual life. Though we practice non-clinging (and non-craving) — which only cause suffering, as we know from Buddhism — when we deny the energy of our desires, we sap life of its vitality and risk becoming ambivalent.”
He talks about using writing to strengthen “witness consciousness” – “By observing your own thoughts and feelings, you increase mindfulness.
“This cultivates Beginners Mind, the ability to meet each moment afresh and recognize what’s true and what isn’t.
“When you articulate your feelings, and develop ‘the language of emotion,’ you discover the nuances — and originality — of your inner world and its layers of richness.”
From post “7 Essential Steps to Freeing Your Soul Through Writing” by Mark Matousek, February 25, 2016, in the blog section of The Shift Network – “a global network of citizens committed to evolve ourselves and our world.”
Here is a video of Mark that gives a sense of his teaching.
Get a free recording of his June 2016 webinar on art and healing: Writing to Heal Your Shadow plus information about his in-depth course “Writing to Heal” starting July 7, 2016.