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By Brianna Wiest

Most people know that your subconscious mind holds most of your brain’s power. Your body remembers everything – even if it’s been filed away, clear from your present awareness.

You don’t need to remember everything that’s ever happened to you, but when you’re grappling with difficult questions, or pain you can’t quite place, it often helps to tap into the unseen corners of your psyche.

Below are a series of writing prompts that will help you understand what you don’t know you’re thinking. Follow the directions precisely, and then wait until the end to identify any patterns.

Remember: it’s less about what you say, and more about what you feel.

1. Open up a blank document on your computer, and just begin to type. Do not worry about what comes out. It can just be a series of random words, it can be the same word over and over again. If you keep going, you will begin to write sentences. See what they say.

2. Write a short story that involves three of your worst fears coming true, but make the protagonist someone who is not you. Piece together a storyline that makes them feel realistic. This will help you externalize, therefore emotionally detach, from your fears.

3. Write five poems. The only rule is that there can only be five words in each one, and each word has to evoke some kind of strong emotion in you. Finally, write a sentence beneath the poems that identifies what the pattern is in the words you feel most strongly about.

4. Write a narrative from the perspective of your fear. Write down every thought you can recall popping up when you’re afraid, in pain, or resistant. Next, write a narrative from the perspective of your true self. Write down every thought you can recall popping up when you’re inspired, hopeful, honest and genuine. Compare the language that each voice uses – this will help you to differentiate intuitive thoughts from intrusive ones.

5. Write down everything you dislike about other people. 

6. Write down everything you dislike about yourself.

7. Compare list 6 and 7.

8. Write down everything you love about other people.  

9. Write down everything you love about yourself.

10. Compare list 8 and 9.

11. Write down every single thing you thought you’d never get over. Every breakup, every friend feud, every difficult year of school, every month you were scraping by financially. Then write down how you did get through it.

12. Write down everything you assume people think about you: every praise, every criticism. How do they compare to the things that you hope and fear are true about yourself?

13. Make a list of what you fear, and then next to it make a list of what you want the most. Some of these may not be obvious on the surface (for an example, a desire for fame could actually be a desire for real connection which has been evading you). Identify the similarities between the things you fear and the things you want.

14. Open up a blank document and one (or many) of the following words. Then begin writing words that you associate with them.

Love

Home

Pain

Truth

Fear

Sex 

Freedom 

Future 

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