One of my favorite forms of self care is called, “Typing Terrible Things.” I will tell you the rules, but you probably already have a preeeeeetty good head start. I sit down. I pull up my favorite writing utensils. And then I write the worst possible things I could write–every nasty thought I’ve had or might have had or could possibly have. I start by writing the first unpleasant thought that comes to my head, and then I write worse things, scarier things. I write all of the mean things anyone has said about me, or that I’m afraid they have said about me. I swear all the swears. I write terrible things I think about myself, I write mean things I think about people I love. I write the things I would never admit to anyone else, but most especially I try to write things I don’t want to say to myself in the privacy of my head. I write down in excruciating detail all the things that feel like they could rip the world apart. I write until a door opens somewhere, until I can’t think of new terrible things to say.
A photo someone took of me in the process.
Thoughts are tricky creatures. The same thoughts tend to run through our heads over and over again, most of the time without our awareness. By writing these thoughts down, a thought that may feel new and painful can be identified as an old thought. Plus, since you notice which thoughts are really the same thought, you magically reduce the number of negative thoughts! Magic!
Most negative thoughts are grounded in emotional truth, but ungrounded in outside reality. Our logical brains try to dismiss these horrible thoughts as soon as they come up, because the logical brain knows they are illogical and the emotional brain finds them too painful. Give those negative thoughts a physical form. Face them in all their concrete power. You will not be destroyed.
In horror movies, most of the scariest monsters are the ones you don’t get to look at for very long. In many ways, the darkness is far scarier than any beast you can invent. If you were to yell, to DEMAND, that all the scary monsters you’ve ever dealt with line themselves up like a bunch of deadbeat criminals, all of the sudden the mental darkness would be empty. You could see what negative thoughts were running through your head all at once. You might be surprised how many of the bad thoughts are permutations of the same thought. And maybe the thought wouldn’t go away, but at least the next time you think it, you can notice it and say, “hey, that’s that one thought I sometimes have.”
When you’re done, you’re still going to be the same person, in the same place, with the same people in your life. No thought, no matter how horrible, is so bad that simply to think it would destroy you on the spot. You might not be able to accept the content of the thoughts themselves, but you might be able to accept that you have those thoughts. It’s okay, it doesn’t define you. I am not what I think. I am what I choose to invest myself in.
Afterwards, go ahead, delete that sucker. You might want to give yourself a hug. Then, if you write manually, you can tear the paper into pieces, or burn it. Do it with flair, do it letter by letter, do it while swearing loudly. Perhaps you can watch a silly movie, or have a talk with a friend. Buy yourself a hot cocoa. But hopefully, wherever you go, you will feel lighter. You should. You just let go of the terrible weight of an undefined darkness.