When you feel like you’re not good enough, that you’ll never be good enough, get out your notebook or a scrap of paper, and write about it. When you’re angry because someone stepped and stomped all over you and you just stood there, like you often do, write about that, too.
When everyone on social media is smiling their faces off, wearing coordinating outfits, savoring their seasonal, cherry-picked fruit and artisanal cheese plates, in their decluttered, effortlessly put-together homes, and you can’t stop comparing yourself to these strangers, wondering why am I not like this? why does nothing come easily to me? and you feel like the loser of the century, write it down.
When you feel alone in the company of others, write it down.
When you’re drowning in regret over something that happened last week or last year, write it down.
When it’s midnight, and you’re Googling “how to be your best self,” write it down.
When you feel a lot of pressure to be someone you’re not, to look a certain way, to be a certain weight, to stay quiet, write it down.
When you have no clue what you’re doing, when you’re tired and weary and frustrated with the world, when your self-doubt is so heavy it feels like you’re wearing a weighted vest, write it down.
When you feel itchy in your own skin, as though you’d like to take it off, write it down.
When you feel like you’re the only one who’s always anxious, who feels sad about seemingly silly things, who cries too easily, who feels stupid, who’s struggling with a mental illness, write it down. (And, no, you’re absolutely not alone.)
When you feel empty or numb, write it down.
When you’re deeply, deeply disappointed in yourself because you didn’t do everything on your to-do list, because you didn’t meet a goal (or come anywhere close), because you snapped at a loved one, because you got a crappy grade, because you missed an important occasion, because you weren’t there for someone like you wanted to be, write it down.
Write down the dark thoughts, the confusing, overwhelming feelings, the shaky sensations snaking through your body. Write even when you can’t pinpoint what you’re feeling because it feels like a thousand different feelings. All at once.
Whatever it is, write it all down. Write it all down without holding any of it back. Describe it in detail. Get curious, as though you were a character in your favorite book. Be gentle and patient with yourself as you’re writing. Try not to criticize or judge. And if you are criticizing or judging yourself, jot that down, too. Write whatever comes to mind. Let it all be welcome on the page.
Maybe you’ll instantly feel better. Maybe you won’t. But you will have listened to yourself. You will have acknowledged, in the words of William Wordsworth, the breathings of your heart. And that’s the first step to healing.