Getting out of the “he said, she said” loop

Getting out of the “he said, she said” loop

Expressive writing exercises are designed to help you work through trauma. Sometimes, it's helpful to begin by writing down your memories of what was said and done.

When it comes to verbal and written communications with others, some of us are experts in dissecting every message for hidden clues. We love to analyze, ask our friends, and conjure up obscure meanings. If you know what I’m talking about, apply that same diligence and fine-toothed comb to your own side of the story. I know, it's more fun to do it for the other person, but just for this exercise, let the focus be you.

Avoid the temptation to interpret or conjure up explantations for other people’s behaviors.
You know the saying, "assume" makes an ass out of u and me. Well, they’re adults, they’re supposed to communicate. If they aren’t communicating, figure out what you want to know, and ask them. Yes, that’s easier said than done, especially if the other person isn’t in your life anymore. If that’s the case, I'm sorry to say, you might never know what they really meant, and your part is still the only one you can work on.

If you acted in a way you’re not proud of, acknowledge it.
Regret means you feel like you could have done better, so next time you probably will.

Instead of getting stuck in the "he said, she said" descriptions, ask yourself why you reacted the way you did.
Dig deeper. Yes, you’re entitled to be hurt, angry, or disappointed - write that down. All your feelings are valid.

Expressive writing is not only about how you felt, but why.

  • Where have you felt like this before?

  • What did their words and actions trigger?

  • Where did that come from?

  • Why did that feel painful?

When you get to those deeper insights, you might realize your pain is not even about what the other person did or didn’t do. It might be remnants of your past experience, how you were raised, or a bruised ego. All these factors influence your thoughts about present reality, and the people in it. Using insights from expressive writing can help view the traumatic situation in a different light, so you can leave it in the past.

The Original Pennebaker Writing Prompt

The Original Pennebaker Writing Prompt