The importance of writing down your thoughts and feelings

Recording your trauma enables you to step back from your pain so you can be more objective. It can be like an out-of-body experience that makes it possible for you to view the situation more objectively—to see the facts as they are without being tainted by your reactions.

Your writing need take only a few minutes, or you can make a more detailed description over several pages—what happened and how it has made you feel. Use a napkin or sheet of paper, dictate into your cell phone, or write on your computer—use whatever’s available. These questions are a good place to start:

  • What happened—someone’s words and actions?
  • Who was involved?
  • When did it happen?
  • Where did it happen?
  • What feelings and thoughts have kept recurring since the event?

Take note of your physical, mental, and emotional reactions and write about them:

My Physical Reactions: Note if you’ve recently gotten a rash, gastro-intestinal issues, stomach upsets, bodily aches, sleep problems, had no energy or motivation, or other physical symptoms.

My Mental Reactions: Jot down if you can’t stop rehearsing, over and over, your hurts. Mention if you can’t concentrate, focus, or remember as well as you normally do. Write about your other concerns and negative thoughts.

My Emotional Reactions: Describe the strong feelings you’re having: extreme loneliness, guilt, anger, resentment, ultra-confidence, paranoia, anxiety, or cravings for your addiction.

Action Step: Write a brief list of how writing this “emotional autopsy” has changed your outlook on the situation. Share your writing with a trusted friend.

This is an excerpt from my book, 9 Critical Steps to Take in a Mental Health Crisis. To find out more, please click here.


Hi, I'm Jim. I've been through the emotional wringer. I've been a successful pastor and leader and a loving father, but I've also been suicidally depressed. I'll teach you the techniques I used to heal myself, and give you the tools to reclaim your life and move forward!

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