Journalling Through a Time of Corona 5

As we continue in the lockdown and its dramatic interruption of what was once normal (remember when you could just pop out for a coffee with friends, mooch round the shops or go to the cinema?) we may notice some shifts in perspective around our once familiar life.  When things are take away that we might not have chosen let go of, including those we wanted to but never quite got round to, it can leave a dynamic space. You could explore this in your journal by making a list of the things that life in lockdown has changed for you. Against each of them, write down how you imagined that change would impact you, and then add how it has in reality. The similarities and differences between those two responses may make interesting reading and reflection. Note down what is significant to you in your findings. It may prove useful later as and when life moves back towards normal. 

Changing circumstances may nudge us towards a shift of perspective, but we can also choose to use writing as a perspective shifter.  If you journal regularly, you will already be aware of how externalising what is in your head or on your heart by writing it down in itself shifts your relationship to the material. But we can be even more intentional about achieving this. 

Changing Point of View

Think of an unresolved issue you have with another person. Write about it for five minutes. What is the issue? How do you see it? How do you feel about it?

Now change your position. As best you can, ‘become’ the other person and write as convincingly as you are able for five minutes covering the same questions. How does this look through the other’s eyes? What do you notice and how do you come over to them?  Read what you have written. Pen  a sentence or two on what you notice and anything else that the writing suggests to you about a way forward. 

Writing in the Third Person 

Writing in the Third Person (i.e. he/she) rather than the First (I/me) can also act as a perspective shifter.  Take an incident or an issue that you want to explore and write about it as if it was a story you were recounting about someone else. Try to observe how you behave, what you do, what you look like from the outside. 

This technique can enable some objective distance on a personal issue. It widens the lens so we can see it from the outside. It can be a way of approaching an issue that feels too difficult to tackle directly.  Read what you have written, reflecting on what new angles or insights emerge for you.

Writing in the Second Person 

Writing in the Second Person (as you rather than as I) enables you to work how you talk to yourself. So often I hear people say that they find it much easier to be compassionate, constructive and truthfully fair with those they love than with themselves. They say things like, ‘If this was someone else’s situation I wouldn’t talk to them the way I talk to myself.’ We can often be a support to others but a harsh critic of ourselves. We need to locate that understanding voice and learn to re-direct it.

Write a letter as if to confiding in a good friend about an issue that’s currently disturbing or distressing you, especially where this involves some self-criticism. Next, shift perspective and pen a reply as if you were the letter-writer’s best friend. It might help to picture this friend and imagine yourself as them. You could also do this by sending yourself an e-mail (carefully addressed!) and replying to it, as you write to you. Afterwards, read this correspondence and note what insights emerge. What aspects of this attitude towards yourself do you want to cultivate? How do you feel when you read your reply to you?

Tuning into your feelings on re-reading your material rather than simply looking at the content can be another way of working with it.

Finally, another way to shift perspective is simply physically going to write in a different space. I know people who go down to the beach or off to a coffee shop to write. Our options, of course, are somewhat limited at the moment, but there may be different rooms or spaces in your immediate outside surroundings that could ring a change of writing venue. It could be worth a try.

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  • About Julia

    Julia

    From writing stories for my younger brother, to penning poems for the School Magazine and filling a growing pile of personal journals, the written word has always been part of my life’s journey.

    I started out as an English Teacher and subsequently retrained as a Counsellor. I have counselled in a GP Surgery and worked with various Employee Assistance Schemes and Charitable Trusts alongside seeing private clients.

    Although I have done some freelance journalism and written four non-fiction books, creative writing has become my main focus in recent years.

    My poems have appeared online on sites including Amaryllis, Silver Birch Press, Clear Poetry, Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis, Riggwelter and Ink,Sweat and Tears. I have been published in Curlew and Bucks Mill Magazine, and anthologised in Our Hearts Still Sing. My first poetry collection, Chester City Walls, came out in 2015.

    Read more about Julia
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