- Any Size
Students write a reflection to themselves on a problem where they need wisdom.
Submit your tip and we will review for some language about the process.
Ask the group members how they feel after doing this exercise. Did they tap into surprising wisdom? Did it feel good to write to a voice of wisdom (even if it’s admittedly just an imaginary exercise)?
You can share with the participants the scientific evidence behind this activity. (See theory below)
You can ask the students why they think that writing about the struggles and adversities is so therapeutic. They may give a number of answers. One of Pennebaker’s theories is that it gives the person distance. Reflecting on the event with distance, they are able to invest in with meaning and purpose. For example, some people who have suffered violence or abuse then go on to devote their lives to helping prevent this same sort of terrible treatment towards other people.
Wrap up the debrief by reminding participants that this is an activity that they can do at any time in their lives when they are struggling. Countless people have found it to be helpful to tap into this inner wisdom.
University of Texas professor James Pennebaker has discovered that writing can be powerfully cathartic. When people have struggled with traumas and terrible adversities, a single intervention of writing 20 minutes per day, for three consecutive days, can help them. Even though many people became quite emotional and even cried when writing about these difficult times, they ended up feeling like the process was healing for them. Indeed, months later, the students who had participated in this exercise were healthier than randomly selected students who had not done the exercise.
Transformative Action Institute, based on traditional writing exercises
Pennebaker, James W. (1997). "Writing about Emotional Experiences as a Therapeutic Process." Psychological Science. 8 (3): 162–166