The Power of Writing

I feel a bit vulnerable putting this post into your hands, so bear with me.

You see, the deeper I dig into myself to write this post, the more vivid the memories surface as to why I began writing for myself in the first place.

As beautiful as life is, we all know it can really fu*cking suck at times as well. I grew up in a supportive family – loved by a mother that made me believe I could accomplish anything in this world and a father who had made me feel a bit inadequate at times. The power of these two engines joined together is one that is uncompromising. Whatever stature/ accomplishments I have earned in life resulted in a fleeting moment of feeling accomplished followed by an internal pressure to prove to the world that I can be even better…especially to my father.

As you can appreciate, whenever you make strides to become better, you often end up meeting a wall, one that almost always pushes back. Sometimes we break through that wall, but it is often after many bumps and bruises. As the maxim, promoted by Adidas (or maybe it was Dwayne Wade?), goes: “I get knocked down 8 times and I get up 9.”

During those 8 times that I got knocked down, I was often angry and bitter, consumed by my own negative thoughts of failure. I give my mom all the credit in the world because she provided me with one of the simplest forms of therapy. When you feel angered, annoyed, even confused, grab a blank piece of printer paper and start writing. Put all of your energy into that paper. It may take a paragraph, it may take 10 pages. Do not think, JUST WRITE. If needed, write about something completely off the cuff like the weather and trust me you will eventually end up writing about the very thing you are currently consumed by.

Here’s a suggestion for you: Before finishing your writing, reach deep within and remind yourself of life’s beautiful journey and how far you have come. You see, as a conclusion to my rant, I always try to finish with a statement that reads “I am a legend and I cannot be defeated”. So, try that for your own writing. 

Now, onto what could be the most therapeutic part. Once you’ve penned those thoughts down and conclude with an epic line, rip this piece of paper into a million pieces and throw it out. Throw them out anywhere. Trust me, you don’t want to read what I just wrote and I sure as hell do not want you reading it.

So, here are my thoughts on conquering this divide…

The result is surprisingly uplifting. It is as if I stood in front of someone else and screamed at them about all of my problems until I ran out of things to say. What’s great about this “exercise” is that I now have a clear mind. I can begin to see other people’s perspectives, re-assess the situation and see where my fault lies. And, most importantly, come up with a solution to get my life back on track.

This is not a diary that you are writing. This letter has a clear purpose, and that is to be ripped up and thrown away. So say what needs to be said and do not hold back.

The question remains, how does this help me arrive at standing up for the 9th time to accomplish the obstacle that has beaten me 8 times before? The answer – This exercise allows you to be more level-headed and stabilize your emotions.

Recently, I had a fight with my girlfriend over my extra-curricular weekend activities. That morning, I sat down and wrote about our troubles and my frustration with her perspective on things. This allowed me to exhaust all of these damaging feelings running through my head.

Within an hour, I had thrown out the paper and found myself at work with a clear mind, ready to complete my responsibilities without all of that extra weight riding on my shoulders. I found that I could now properly communicate with my girlfriend throughout the day whilst working on a design project that had a fast approaching deadline. In general, my personal matters rarely impact my career and, on the flip side, my career rarely impacts my personal life. I’ve learned how to compartmentalize and separate my personal and professional life.

I am not a doctor, nor am I a psychologist or psychiatrist, and I am definitely not Tony Robbins. I am simply writing to you as a friend and sharing about what has worked for me. We have all felt pain in our lives but it is how we deal with this pain that will dictate how we grow.  Dealing with this pain correctly allows us to become a more experienced, better version of ourselves, and one step closer to becoming the person we aim to be.

I have an Uncle who has done an incredible job at leaving his mark on the tech industry. Years ago, he explained to me that it is our emotional intelligence that amounts to the person we become; each individual’s ability to choose between the theory of fight or flight when things are at disarray.

He also gave me this professional tidbit of advice that I want to share with all of you: Whenever you get an email that turns you from friendly to irate, draft out your response email. Now, it may happen once a quarter, once a month, or maybe even once a week pending on your employer or colleagues,  but the point is that you need to address it. So, open up a reply email and write exactly how you are feeling and what you want to say. Once the email has been written, you have very clear instructions NOT to hit the send button. Save it as a draft and re-read it 24 hours later once you have calmed down.

The next day, fix the many grammatical errors and decide if this is the manner in which you want to conduct yourself in your response. If not, start over with a clear head and write a more effective response that aligns with the outcome you are seeking. This simple process allows you to regain control of the situation. More importantly, it allows you to regain control of a decision that could very easily cripple your career.

In the end, I do not have all the answers to live a perfect life, but I do my best to control my emotions and not erupt at the first thing that sets me off. Trust me, I have made emotional mistakes that I have had to live with today – I owe a sincere apology to a friend in NYC and a friend in Canada. Do not let this be your mistake. Take control of the situation before you let your emotions control you.