Definition of Technique
Written processing is a method for leveraging the power of one’s feelings, expressed through words, for the purpose of working through complex challenges.
Usefulness of Technique
When regular internal processes for solving problems, such as thinking and intuitive reasoning, are ineffective at solving a particular problem, utilizing written processing can be a low-intensive approach that can be used to solve problems that are of a higher difficulty than what can be easily approached with methods such as thinking or intuitive reasoning.
Processing utilizes the information and perspectives picked up by feelings, because often these feelings can pick up on even the most minute details of certain problems, pointing out particulars that may be essential to solving a given problem.
Indeed, while concentrating on a given topic, one may be aware of feelings about the topic, which may shift around, as well as conflict with, and inform each other. One feeling may spark another. Bringing these feelings to the surface seems to me to be very much like allowing a discussion or debate to take place. That is basically what written processing is all about: putting feelings into words. By putting feelings into words, even conflicting ones, many challenges can be overcome, problems solved, and lessons learned.
Once disparate feelings come into agreement about how a problem should be approached, the feelings will generally become calm with respect to that topic, since whatever problems were there become, through processing, no longer a problem. Of course, solving one problem may bring to attention a different problem, or perhaps one might solve parts of a larger problem one at a time with this technique.
Written processing can also be applied to situations where one feels conflicted with respect to a certain issue, since by expressing the feelings of both sides in words, the conflict can be brought to the surface and worked through.
Another use of written processing is in investigating the reasons for particular feelings. By expressing solely, as best one can, from a particular feeling, and then responding to that expression (i.e. by asking questions of it), one can gain insight into a feeling and its reasons for being there.
How to do Written Processing
When feeling stuck on a particular issue, or when curious about particular feelings, or when you feel like processing could help you, here are the steps to actually do written processing:
- Open up a text editor or get out a piece of paper.
- Express whatever thoughts and feelings you can become aware of as words. It might be about any topic, even about the processing itself. Keep expressing until the momentum behind what you’re expressing starts to lessen. (It’s sort of like when one person, who is talking to another, finishes what they’re trying to say.)
- Now, on the next line, express a new thought or feeling – it might come from a completely different place inside of you (has a different feel to it).
- At this point, your original thoughts or feelings (from step 2) might return, or maybe a third perspective will pop up – just express whatever is there. To keep track, you might find it easier to label your perspectives according to how they feel or in general where you feel it’s coming from inside you – you can always change these labels as you understand these feelings better.
- Keep expressing your thoughts and feelings, from new or old perspectives / places inside you, until you feel that you’ve worked through whatever was there. You can always come back later. Even in short spurts you can make progress on a given issue (at least according to my experience).
Let’s say you’re feeling restless and unsure of what to do. How might that dialogue go?
What do I even want to do right now?
Well, what do you want to do?
I… don’t know. I can’t decide.
What are you trying to choose between?
Well, [insert list of activities], but nothing seems good for me to do right now. I’m not in the mood.
I wanna just, have fun… but not in a way that’s usual for me. That’d be boring. I want to do something new.
Well, what about [suggestion]?
Could be good, but really I want to take it easy, even if trying something new?
Well, what about [adjusted suggestion]?
Yeah… Yeah. I could go for that.
As you can see, your own responses help transform your sense of direction and the things you’re able to consider. In a way, it resembles journaling, but it makes journaling into more of a conversation between perspectives, rather than a one-perspective introspection.