How Writing Through Trauma Can Make You A Better Thinker
It’s about forming your own world view in a sea of everyone else’s opinion.
Many of us crave unique thoughts — from both ourselves and from those we look up to. Why? Because their ideas can help prompt the same within us. That being said, many of us hold a view of the world that is no different than the one provided to us through another person’s words.
“The young man reveres men of genius because to speak truly, they are more himself than he is.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
But if we are going to go down the rabbit hole of how to think optimally, we must first understand what qualifies a person to be a critical thinker. Technically speaking, the reason why many of us read is that most of us don’t write and even fewer of us do both, but there could be a detrimental consequence of choosing one over the other.
I will never forget the first TED Talk I watched that truly changed me. I felt so moved by the words of the speaker that it almost felt as if they had spent a bit of time inside of my mind prior to stepping foot on stage. I soon realized that it wasn’t our shared brain that caused the resonance, but the person’s ability to string words together in a way that put meaningful language to the thoughts that had only existed in my head up until that day. Evan Puschak describes this feeling as ‘He/She was more me than I was at that point.’
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It was at that point that I realized how important it is to practice writing just as we do anything else. After all, there is no thought without language. We learn by saying, not thinking, and saying is articulation. Otherwise, we are simply operating on memories and things we have read, but are yet to retain. When we can write down our thoughts explicitly, self-awareness becomes an inevitable byproduct.
Consider the last time you read a book or article that truly changed you. Perhaps it opened the door to higher-level thinking, cultivated a new thought within you, or shed light on something you thought you were experiencing alone. Now acknowledge what it was about that reading that made you enjoy is — why did you think it was good? Many of us will share that the reason why the words were so uniquely meaningful to our lives is that the author found a way to articulate a thought that already existed in one’s own mind. In other words, the reader resonates with the content, because of its alignment to what they have thought, yet struggled to put into words all along.
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This is the reason why many of us can recall a passage that prompted a ‘series of revelations’ in our lives. We adopt the initial world view of those who know how to articulate their thoughts.
This is why everyone should write — journal even.
The more one writes, the more they find the ability to think critically and ultimately, use this strategy to judge all incoming information. If we lack this way of thinking, we cannot cultivate a world view that is ours alone. Your perspective of the world is what dictates how you act and believe one should act in a given scenario. If you lack the ability to think critically about a situation, then the ground underneath you when you take your next step forward is uncertain.
As you begin to write, you will see the reason for emotions and the importance of trauma in your life. The moment trauma arises, the story we have told ourselves for so many years becomes less persuasive. Trauma seldom comes into our lives, but when it does, we should not turn a blind eye to it. Trauma presents you with a unique opportunity to reinvent the story you tell yourself, about yourself.
“Trauma is the moment where your old story breaks down and you can’t cling to it anymore.”
We live our entire lives through the lens created by the story we tell ourselves, about ourselves, and about the world around us. Progress requires introspection and oftentimes, this doesn’t happen until we are so ready to escape the reality of what we are doing or going through at that moment that the only place left to go is in.
When we provide ourselves with the gift of introspection, we are able to better see the ‘inevitable next steps’ in our journey. There is an ancient practice called consunji that mimics the creation of a mosaic. The beautiful step in this art’s creation is its focus on the cracks between the broken pieces.
“Life breaks everyone and some are stronger in the places that broke.” ~Ernest Hemingway
There is a gold adhesive that is used to create a beautiful work of art that is new and reinvented, yet most beautiful at the places it was once broken. We should look to this as an opportunity to find beauty in our trauma and see the other side as the chance to reorganize the components of our lives. You are not your trauma, but without a life philosophy, you cannot control its impact on your life.