Recommendations on opening up given
Dear Annie: I understand what “Unable To Open Up” is saying. I was never able to communicate with my parents. It carried over into my marriage and caused problems.
My suggestion is for him to write down his thoughts and feelings before he meets with the counselor. I have found that I can put thoughts into words on paper better than I can communicate verbally with someone.
Then he can hand her what he has written and they can go from there. Hope this helps. — Been There, Done That
Dear Been There: A great many readers suggested that writing down his feelings would be helpful for “Unable to Open Up.” Here are two more letters with similar suggestions.
Dear Annie: This is regarding “Unable to Open Up,” the man has a difficult time opening up to his therapist about his feelings. It’s very hard for me to open up, too. I can always write about my thoughts and feelings a lot better than talking about them.
A suggestion would be that he write down his thoughts and feelings. He could do this in private, when he’s alone and not feeling put on the spot. Then either he or his therapist could read these notes during the following session. – Not Good on the Spot
Dear Annie: I’m responding to “Unable to Open Up,” who asked how to maximize the value of the help of a therapist if he couldn’t open up.
My suggestion is this: Try keeping a journal. Get a loose-leaf notebook that is specially dedicated to holding your thoughts and feelings related to your “buried anger” or any thoughts and feelings you have difficulty sharing. When you get a glimmer of one of those thoughts and feelings, write down as much as you can about it. Ask it questions. Get really calm and quiet and listen for answers.
Perhaps go for a walk and listen for answers on the walk. Then write down what you hear. Read what you have written. You may want to add an additional thought or reflection. Give your written piece a title and a date at the top of the page. Put it in your notebook.
Keep doing this over a period of time, say, a month. Then look over what you have written. See if there are any items you would like to shine more light on. Jot those on a list. Then keep your eyes open for answers to the questions you raise. When you get an answer, jot that down on a separate page. It might be a change in behavior or attitude. Write it down clearly and start practicing it.
Your psyche is like an onion. As you write about one layer and put that in the notebook, it will release energy for the next layer. Soon, you’ll have a collection of wisdom and guidance that will free you up to share, perhaps with your spouse, a friend or a therapist.
I have seen this work hundreds of times. Write down what scares you, and describe it as clearly as you can. Gradually, that gets it out of your psyche so you can begin to make friends with it, learn what it needs and give it that. I hope you try this and communicate the results to Annie. — Working on an Intensive Journal
Dear Working: You make many great suggestions for uncovering our feelings, slowly and powerfully. Thank you.
Editor’s note: “Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.