Written Processing

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:

  1. Open up a text editor or get out a piece of paper.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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).

Example:

Topic: Solving for x in the following problem: 2x2 + 4x − 4 = 0 (copied from the Wikipedia article on the Quadratic Equation without looking at the answer or the quadratic equation itself (did not remember it during this example))

Processing:

“Uhhh how do I solve that?”

“Isn’t it obvious? There’s a quadratic formula – just plug it all in – you don’t need to make this difficult for yourself.”

“But, well, I kinda want to solve it without that.”

“Don’t be absurd! This is only an example anyway! No need to have some sort of emotional hangups about it!”

“Aw come on, I’d enjoy the challenge.”

“Fine – go ahead – try to solve that WITHOUT using the quadratic formula.”

“Not bad. Yeah so in total it’s x=(-b±sqrt(b^2-4ac))/2a … holy crap – how would we even have thought of completing the square?”

“I don’t know! Well, I mean we were convinced that by square rooting that stuff we could solve it, we just couldn’t find a way to square root the general equation, just when we MADE IT into a perfect square. But yeah realistically we didn’t have to plug any numbers in.”

“Realistically we could’ve just looked up the quadratic equation from the get-go.”

“No no – this was a good experience.”

“Yeah, ‘good’…”

“Come on man, it was!”

“We spent almost an entire day trying to figure this out! It was just a simple completing the square thing!”

“Well now we know that by taking the square root of a quadratic we can not only reduce it to = 0 and find the answer that way, but also we can get rid of the square, simplifying it down to the variable itself. If we had known that we could square root both sides, this might’ve gone easier.”

“Yeah, well I suppose if we had realized that both sides of an equation are equal, we wouldn’t have had as much trouble with that. Well, is this enough of a demonstration?”

“It’s one hell of a demonstration, but ok.”

“I vote for making another, shorter one.”

“Fine fine, but it’s difficult to find something like this…”

“We’ll just pick a different math problem, like a word problem, and solve that using processing.”

“Or we could just include a short version of this processing, with a link to the long version.”

“Yes…We could do that…”

“Alrighty.”

“Now are we free to go about other matters?”

“Yep. Though not like I was imprisoning you or anything.”

“Yes yes, well, let’s end here, then.”

“Feelings keep going, though.”

“I know, but let’s end for now.”

“Ok. – Oh wait! We didn’t even solve the original formula!”

“Hah – indeed.”

“It was  2x^2 + 4x − 4 = 0. so in that case, I’d do (-4±sqrt(4^2-4*2*(-4)))/2*2, or (-4±sqrt(16+32))/4, or (-4±sqrt(48))/4, or (-4±sqrt(16*3))/4 =>(-1±sqrt(3)), which, if you calculate it out, would = either 0.7320508 or -2.7320508! See! And the circle is now complete.”

“Hah – well, then, that’s that.”

“Yes!”

“Not sure if this is exactly a victory, but, well, good enough…”

“Ah don’t spoil it now.”

“Just stating my feelings given the knowledge of the short cut. But perhaps this road was more beneficial… who can tell?”

“Oh well – exactly, we won’t really be able to tell for sure. It might’ve been beneficial, it might’ve not, or it might’ve been both.”

“Indeed. At the very least, this served as a demonstration of written processing.”

“A super LONG demonstration.”

“But, good enough.”

“Alright.”

(End of processing)

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