Exploring the Meandering Threads in Our Lives
June 16, 2017
Something is very gently,
pulling at me – a thread
or net of threads
finer than cobweb ….
… not fear
but a stirring
of wonder makes me catch my breath when I feel
the tug of it when I thought
it had loosened itself and gone.
The Thread by Denise Levertov
All of us have inner threads pulling invisibly, silently within. They’re part DNA, part upbringing, part childhood experiences with family, friends and adversaries developed over the course of our lives.
Instead of blindly responding to these unknown forces, we can live more in line with our deepest sense of personal truth when we use personal writing and reflection to learn what drives us to act in certain ways – think as we do – make the same choices – and why we react to certain situations.
Here’s an exercise I shared recently that you may like to try. It takes a little time but is well worth it.
1. Identify as many of your own threads or themes as you can in a limited period of quite time. Set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes to allow your thoughts to meander over what has meant the most to you from your very first conscious encounters, throughout all the stages of life up to the present. These may include your values, wishes, hopes, expectations for self and others, as well as your fears, disappointments and more. Let your memories and emotions flow without dwelling in any one place long.
2. Immediately after reflecting quietly, write down what came up. Quickly jot your thoughts randomly on a single page. Make a list or cluster your thoughts or sketch an image on your page. Add all that you remember as your thoughts flowed.
3. From all you’ve written so far, select the three topics with the most energy.
4. Using three separate sheets of paper, write one of your three topics at the top of each page.
5. Using your own words at the top of the first page as a prompt, write whatever comes to mind for the next 5 to 10 minutes. Do not reread this, but go directly to the second topic and write another page-long reflection. Then repeat with the 3rd page topic.
6. Now read all three reflection pages at the same time noticing any themes that appear.
7. Write a one-word description or short phrase that sums up your thoughts on each appropriate page, like a title for that page.
8. Finally, write a short acrostic poem for each of your three themes using the word or phrase you chose. To write an acrostic poem, write the letters of the chosen word or phrase down the page vertically, one letter per line. Begin the first line of your poem with a word that starts with the letter on line one. Quickly write your thoughts as they come to you, noticing when a word begins with the letter on each subsequent line until you have completed your poem.
A member of our group, at home with her two small sons, missed this meeting but completed the exercise as well. Here’s Beth Chambas telling us about her process.
“I took an hour and a half to write this morning. I was going to spend about 30 minutes, but once I started, I couldn’t stop.
“I had to ‘write around’ a little while to figure out what ‘threads’ meant, and I decided that, to me at least, the threads were the things that ‘hold me stable, align me to the person I am. Without any threads, I wouldn’t be able to move, to act, to know my frame of reference for the world.”
Beth found her three important threads were Nurture, Intelligence, and Sincerity and described the first as: “Nurture – giving to others to meet their needs, comfort them, bring them happiness and fulfillment, ‘to make you feel my love.’”
Her acrostic poem further reveals her insight into Nurture and has a visceral quality that offers the reader a warm feeling.
No one should feel
Reach out your arms to me,
Turn to me and be cared for.
Under, over, around, and through, I care for you.
Rest, be feed, be caressed into a smile – I’ll
Enfold you in my warm embrace.
Try this yourself. Set aside some time for reflection, sit quietly before you begin and let your writing lead the way. I hope your own inner guidance will feel like a warm embrace too.
Susan Hendricks leads guided journal writing groups in Columbia as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Journal Therapist and Certified Dream Group Leader. To contact Susan and learn more, go to www.susanhendricks.com or www.wholistictherapyandcoaching.com