Here we are, still doing this pandemic, so… I want to talk about identity because it can make us stronger in times like these. What do your recognize of your identity that makes you strong? Let’s go back to the core of you. Your most amazing wonderful self. Let’s go there and celebrate it.
The world is experiencing an unprecedented level of fear and uncertainty. Feeling fear and uncertainty in the face of the world is totally normal, even in regular times, but especially now. It is fine to acknowledge these feelings, recognize you have them, but let’s not stay there. These feelings can eventually feel dangerous to our sense of self.
We have strength in our identity, our imaginations, our creativity, our compassion, our love that can help us get through these harder times. Now can be a time to reflect, to remember, to build up a new you and to build up who you want to be in the world. To make room for new growth in self and in the world.
Let’s use this as an opportunity to peer into ourselves, to awaken to our strongest self, to create a new life for ourselves and build a better world.
1.Write first as if you were your self five years ago. Imagine you are introducing yourself to a group of people and you are saying the truth of who you are, what you have been through and what you hope for. What do you say? Write: “My name is _______________. I am _________ years old in 2015.” Where do you come from? Who are your people? Have they helped you or hurt you? Do they help you or hurt you now? What are your creative strengths? Who do you love? Who do you care about? Who do you have compassion for? How does your identity make you strong? What else do you say about you and your life?
This may be reaching into your spiritual self . What do you deeply need for yourself that you are only beginning to see? Write that. What do you want? Take at least ten minutes to write this if not 20 or more. Give yourself this time to write about you.
2.Second, write as you right now. Do the same thing but as you now. Imagine you are before that same group you spoke your truth about you to five years ago. Except now, of course, you are on Zoom or some other platform since we can’t meet physically in groups right now. You trust this group and care about them and they remember you and care about you. First, write what you would say about how you are different than five years ago. Not all the details about what has happened to get you to today (because that could be a really long exercise) but how you are different than you were. If you write something negative, counter it with a positive as well. But, in general, how are you new, how are you different?
What does the you right now love about your life in this situation? What is the you right now afraid of? What does the you right now feel? What is important to you? Who is important to you? What are you proud of you for (in general and in this current situation)? What does the you right now do well? What does your spirit need? Write this. What do you want right now in your life? What are the ways the you right now is strong? Write that.
3.Last, imagine in five years from now being again with this same group of people, people you trust, people you like even though you haven’t seen them in five years, people who cheer you on. First write how you are then (in five years), also reflecting back to now. What do you say to them about how you have changed as a person? What do you say now about your identity? What do you say about how you have grown stronger? In what ways?
After you have told them about yourself, write what they say to you (in five years) about who you are. Write at least five responses, if not more (all positive). They can begin: You are…
When the paths we follow affirm us and our strengths, when they promote hope, forgiveness, and purpose, our mental health benefits. Write for yourself, to make you stronger, to strengthen your identity, a positive identity, in this difficult time. Write to celebrate the evolving you, the you that is strong in this difficult time, to recognize how strong and amazing you are.
I encourage you to begin a daily writing practice, writing even a little bit every day. This can bring us a sense of greater understanding about ourselves and help us to regulate our emotions. If we work on this as a daily practice, we are more easily able to deal with the hard times when they come.
Stay safe. Be well.
Thank you for writing with us! See you next Tuesday.
P.S. If you are looking for more exercises on writing through anxiety and depression, go back to some of my previous blog entries and you will find additional exercises to write through some of these hard feelings.