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Writing to Heal Your Life

This interview is from the Like Mind, Like Body podcast. You can listen to the full interview below, on iTunes or Google Podcasts.

John Evans knows first-hand how transformative a few writing sessions can be to someone’s physical and mental health. 13 years ago, he picked up Jamie Pennebaker’s hallmark book Writing to Heal and used it to navigate his life’s biggest challenges, including a struggle with PTSD and an advanced cancer diagnosis. Today, he’s devoted his life to helping others transform their lives the way he has. He runs a 6-week intensive writing program, and even ended up co-authoring a book with Jamie Pennebaker called “Expressive Writing: Words that Heal.” Join us as he explains the connection between our words and our health, and gives tips on how to use expressive writing effectively.

Here’s an excerpt from our interview with John:

So why does WRITING, specifically, help with healing… as opposed to just talking things out with a friend or your therapist?

Well, you know…. talk therapy is pretty ephemeral. It’s here and then it’s gone. Many times, people can’t even remember what they talked about when they leave their therapist’s office. And yet, in writing, you can actually make the abstract concrete. You make implicit processes explicit. You can then EDIT your story in a more lasting way, because you’ve written it down, and you have words that you can change. You can decide what impact that vocabulary has on you. We have this internal conversation going on all the time in our heads…. some people call it the interior monologue, other people have called it the stream of consciousness. What they’re talking about it something that mindfulness practitioners call "monkey mind.” We have this gibberish that’s going on in our heads all the time… and many times, the language that we use inside our heads is not all that compassionate or loving or kind. In fact, it can keep us trapped in a mindset of victimhood or pain. When we begin to realize that, we can change our language to something that is more positive and more uplifting.


So is it fair to say that writing is almost like bringing awareness to this story that’s already going on in your head? Yes, I think that’s very fair to say. That’s very true, it brings awareness to it. The great benefit of it is that with that awareness comes the possibility of editing our story, and making choices about what words we want to use to describe our story.

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[This was only an excerpt. Listen to the full podcast above]

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