Friday, August 21, 2020

Dealing with the Emotions of Writing Tough Memories

Several clients have emailed me lately, asking how to deal with the flood of emotions that comes with writing memoir.
"Memories bring back the feelings, especially traumatic ones, and I get stalled out with my writing," said one client recently. "Do you have any tips for handling these overwhelming emotions so I can keep writing?"

I'm very familiar with that internal flood. When I was writing How to Master Change in Your Life, a spirituality/self-help hybrid, I remember working on a chapter about business failure and bankruptcy. Reliving that terrible time was so difficult, I actually had to run to the bathroom and throw up. Other times I'd get so stuck, I couldn't write one word.

Two things were happening: I was processing what I hadn't finished. And, at the same time, I was trying to get enough of a perspective to tell the story for others.

This double duty affected me on so many levels, I sought help. Talking about the events with others, especially a therapist, helped the processing part. I moved through shame and sadness, anger and fear, to gradual acceptance.

I also got great help from resources like The Tapping Solution, my daily spiritual practice, and chanting. These helped dispel some of the intensity and lift me above the constant mental chewing over what had happened (here's a short video on a chant that helped me the most--and I still use every day, especially now).