15th Mar 2018
Sharing your experiences is so important to your mental health, here’s why…
A few years ago I set out on an expedition to Australia with the intention of winning back an old flame. My hope and naivety completely overrode any sense of reality (clearly), because the expedition was a complete failure.
After 30 hours of travel I arrived in Melbourne, only for the guy to gently explain that he was not interested. So there I was, totally broken-hearted and left with another three weeks totally alone on the other side of the world, with nothing to do but wallow in self-pity over the crushing rejection.
Thankfully, I’m not a total loser, and was able to pick myself up and set off on a different kind of adventure. Instead of swooning the weeks away with my former flame, I flew over to explore New Zealand. Whilst a great experience, that was not even the best decision I made at that time. The best decision was deciding to lay the romantic blow out in the open, via the travel blog that I was writing at the time.
I remember the hesitation I felt at pressing “publish” that night, realising how vulnerable I was making myself via the public announcement of shame. Would people think me a psychotic stalker? An undesirable weirdo who hounds past boyfriends years after the relationship has ended (which wouldn’t be totally inaccurate, in fairness)? My index finger hovered above the enter key, blood was rushing to my cheeks.
F**k it. Click.
In the hours and days that followed the publication of that blog post, I was inundated with messages from friends, family, vague acquaintances and total strangers. Their messages turned my state of mind around in a way that I never could have hoped for. They were filled with words of support and encouragement; telling me that I was a “stong, independent woman” and reassuring me that I was not alone in my experience of rejection.
Putting pen to paper (in the digital sense, of course, #millennial) was better than any therapy I probably would have resorted to, had I carried my feelings of embarrassment and shame home as emotional luggage. Letting it out into the open took the sting out of the scenario; the story was no longer mine to bear alone. “A problem shared is a problem halved,” they say, and considering the number of people that I halved my story with, I was left with only a small fraction to deal with.
For anyone who’s ever gone through hard times or troubles, I can’t vouch enough for the benefits that come with sharing your story. We’re not human-robots, and the sooner we fess up to the fact that we all experience struggles, failures and rejections, the better.
If writing a blog is not your style, then talk to a friend. You’ll be surprised as to how many similar experiences they are (or have been) going through when you dare to open up. And if the idea of talking to a friend still seems too daunting, then grab a pen and paper and start scribbling out your thoughts in a journal.
According to Dr. James Pennebaker, author of Writing to Heal, “When we translate an experience into language we essentially make the experience graspable”. What he’s saying is that sharing your stories, worries and troubles will set you free from the traumas and will unravel your mental entanglement in them.
And what I’m saying is feel the fear and do it anyway, I promise you’ll be glad you did.
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