As conscious (and honestly pretty remarkable) beings, we have some firmly held believes that are inaccurate.
- We all think we're "the shit." Assuming that we're correct in nearly everything we do and say.
- We believe we don't change our minds a lot, imagining we are the same person we have been for a long time.
- We think that our thoughts align with what we act like.
I want to dive deeper into those beliefs. To discuss how the simple yet powerful act of writing can help mitigate some of the faulty premises we have.
Are you ready for the power of writing things down?
Power to think clearly
Writing helps you to look at your thoughts more clearly. Instead of ideas echoing each other in your mind, you can look at them from another perspective.
You can look at them again, again and again. The words will stay where you put them.
This persistence of words means you can interact with them and think about your thoughts much better.
Your thoughts are not hindered by themselves; they don't get stuck in a weird feedback loop.
Writing (and then reading what you wrote) helps to separate the thoughts into different parts. You are easing the cognitive load of your mind. Thereby you are giving yourself time to look at each idea individually, written down in words.
Clear thoughts help you to make distinct, better, and more correct choices.
Power to understand yourself
A second benefit of writing your thoughts down is that you can look back later. Be it the next minute, day, week, month, or even year. Looking back then enables you to see what you were thinking precisely at that moment in time.
There won't be a doubt about what you were thinking.
This certainty is not the case with only your memory, which is very fluid (especially when it comes to identity).
Being able to see what you wrote down a while ago can help you look at the changes you went through. Primarily looking at yourself from a bird's eye view is compelling.
To see your journey is to see how your choices had an impact on you up till now. You can make an intentional choice of how to proceed into the future based on a clear history.
Writing things down over time makes you more able to see your identity, and thus make choices in line with oneself.
Power to act
Lastly, writing things down in public, thus sharing your thoughts with the world, enables outside feedback on your ideas.
Feedback from people with different experiences and worldviews is a powerful way to sharpen your ideas and viewpoints.
But seemingly an even better reason to share your thoughts with the world is that you can estimate if your actions align with what you think.
You see, if you place your ideas in public, but not act in line with those opinions, you will notice. Most likely by people calling you out on it.
Writing in public gives you immediate feedback on your actions and beliefs.
This form of social feedback hones your actions. It makes your thoughts and actions align like the sun, moon, and earth during a solar eclipse.
Bonus power - Understanding others
It takes effort for people to understand each other. You need to communicate, listen, ask questions, etc.
What often happens, though, is that you think you understand each other, but in truth, you're not in agreement.
Or it's the other way around, you mean the same thing, but you say it differently and get stuck in semantics.
Chris Do said this aptly in one of his "After Hours" conversations. I'm paraphrasing here, but it was something along the lines of:
"...because what you say comes out all jelly."
This 'jelly-ness' is because your mind is an echo chamber; you don't understand each other because:
- One, your mind is echoing its own thoughts.
- Two, you're not speaking the same "language."
Writing things down helps here. Through writing, you can first agree on the terms you use. Then you can leave your ideas on (digital) paper so as not to have it echo in your mind.
After writing down your thoughts and reading those (and of others), you are better able to understand each other's ideas.
For me, writing has been an extremely effective way to clear my head. In some cases, it even works therapeutically!
The funny thing is, at one point during high school, I got into roleplaying, you know, writing stories with others online and stuff.
Suddenly I found it extremely important to be a better writer. This adolescent "urge to save face" made me challenge myself day in and day out to become better at writing—something I hated doing in school. You see, I really, and I mean REALLY, sucked at language in school.
I was so bad that I had to work through lunch break on many occasions (when all the other kids were happily playing outside). Oh, how I hated language classes.
But now I've actually finished a challenge of writing every two pages day for 70 days! It is something I never thought I'd be able to do.
I still have a lot to learn (I'm Dutch, and thus English is my second language), but the only way to learn is by writing more!
What do you write about?
I'm interested in your stories and experience with writing.
Do you journal? Do you write down notes? How often do you write?
Please do share! 😊