You know that feeling when you’re so wired about a conversation with someone that you just can’t think straight?
When you’ve got so angry that your mind is just playing scenarios over and over again trying to make sense of things?
You’re longing to get to sleep and you just can’t stop the anger rising. You’re angry that you didn’t defend yourself, that you let this happen again and that you just can’t imagine a way you could get the other person to behave differently, the way you want them to…
There’s so many places to go with this one.
Let’s start here though, with our favourite go-to technique any time we simply can’t see straight.
It’s called the Shitty First Draft and it’s a gem.
(If you don’t do swearing, just call it an SFD).
We claim no credit for this, we’re simply teachers of it.
The concept comes from Anne Lamott (an exceptional writer and our favourite TED speaker at last year’s main conference). She kindly allowed Brene Brown (our favourite writer on courage and vulnerability and now leadership) to enhance it for the purpose of this particular scenario.
The idea is simple.
Get out a pen and paper (you can use an ipad or laptop if you want to and we find there’s something even better about using some good old fashioned implements) and start to write.
You’re not writing anything for anyone else to read (in fact, feel free to burn it afterwards, you may even feel that it’s completely necessary given what you’re about to write), you’re simply writing to get all of your current feelings and emotions down on paper.
Every single one of them.
You see, in our opinion, the most important element of the SFD is that you do no editing whatsoever. That you write every single thing that is going on in your brain of yours.
Why is that important?
We deny our emotions, even to ourselves.
It’s quite incredible really. Even when we’re writing on a piece of paper that nobody is ever going to read, it’s easy to find ourselves starting a sentence and then crossing it out saying in our minds, ‘Oh no, I can’t say that, that makes me look like a cry baby’ and so the emotion is never expressed.
The emotion needs to be released.
It needs to come out. So if there’s a five year old in you that just wants to stomp their feet and say, ‘it’s not fair’, then you crack on and get it down on paper. Write it all down, every last word of it. So that it gets chance to get out of your mind and out into the world in a safe place.
Write till you’ve got nothing left. Until you can’t think of a single additional word to say.
And then stop. No need to read it again or do a single thing with it (as we said, destroy it if you feel you need to). And breathe.
You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.
Does it fix everything? Sometimes yes. More likely, it gives you much needed space in your mind. A sense of perspective and clarity as you clear out what’s going on for you. And the safest place in the world to express it. On a piece of paper.
If that calm only lasts for an hour and you find yourself back in that swirly whirly mind game again, you know what to do…
Get out your pen and go again.
Really. That’s all it takes. There’s no limit to how many times you can do it. Not a rule in sight.
Oh and we know you. Even now you’re sighing and going, ‘this is journalling isn’t it? I can’t / don’t do journalling. This won’t work for me’.
And we’re looking at you and smiling and saying, ‘You’ll never know if you don’t try. And you’ve got nothing to lose’.
Be good to calm that mind down eh? So give it a go.
We predict magic.