Many things can deter us from telling our story, and so often, the driving force is fear. But you’re the only one who has your story — you’re the only one who can write it. You can be a messenger of hope and help, and what if writing your book actually helps you heal yourself?
Have you ever thought you’d die because you were in so much emotional pain you couldn’t imagine how things could change? I knew that feeling all too well years ago, before I became a nonfiction book coach. I had been married for twenty-two years and was devastated when I discovered that my husband had a hidden life that was incompatible with marriage. It was like everything I knew about the world and how life worked turned out to be a lie. I had been betrayed by the man I had been married to for over half my life. I literally thought I might die from the pain and grief.
Because the circumstances of our split were dark and personal and not the topic of polite conversation, I had nowhere to turn. There was no one to help or comfort me, no one who understood what I was going through. It wasn’t until I dared to share my story, my whole story, that I began to heal.
Heal yourself and others
I worked my way through that pain with the help of deep self-examination and intense therapy. It wasn’t until I met with a therapist and began to share all of the ugly details of my pain that I felt a dead weight lift off my heart. It was unfiltered and raw, but, oh, was it freeing! The sense of relief and peace I felt after sharing my story was indescribable. I had a long journey ahead, but I finally felt the mental fog begin to clear.
As that fog cleared, I realized I had discovered things that not only saved me, but that could aid other women facing similar situations — women whose worlds were flipped upside down by a deep, ugly secret and who, as they try to come to terms with their pain, have no one to help them. Women who feel hopeless, helpless, and all alone — just like I was.
You’re the only one who can tell your story
Many of my writing clients start by telling me they’re “just not ready at this time.” Most everyone’s concerns are centered around an emotion that plagues so many of us: FEAR. Fear is a thief. It robs us of everything if we allow it to control us. It robs us of relationships because we don’t want to get hurt, it robs us of opportunities because we’re too afraid to fail, and it robs us of our destiny because we’re afraid of change. Yes, it’s an emotion, and at times it’s a rational and natural response to a circumstance, but we get to choose whether or not it will dictate and limit our lives. Fear of rejection (“no one is going to read my book”), fear of failure (“will it be any good?”), and fear of the unknown (“I don’t think I can actually do this”) are all real fears that my writers have.
One of the things I learned on my journey is there are physical benefits to sharing, for yourself and others who are struggling through the same type of pain you’ve experienced. Doctor Lissa Rankin, author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself, writes in Psychology Today that: “Every time you tell your story, and someone else who cares bears witness to it, you turn off the body’s stress responses, flipping off toxic stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine and flipping on relaxation responses that release healing hormones like oxytocin, dopamine, nitric oxide, and endorphins. This turns on the body’s innate self-repair mechanisms and functions as preventative medicine — or treatment if you’re sick. It also relaxes your nervous system and helps heal your mind of depression, anxiety, fear, anger, and feelings of disconnection.” She goes on to say that, “In order to benefit fully from the healing medicine of telling your story, you must resist holding anything back. You must strip off your masks, be unapologetically you, ditch worrying about what ‘everybody’ is going to think, and let your glorious freak flag fly.”
Fear is only false evidence appearing real
Years ago someone shared an acronym with me that changed my perspective. Fear is:
How would your life change if you approached fear this way instead of allowing it to be the driving force in your life? Many things can deter us from telling our story, but so often, the driving force is fear. What will people think? What if they don’t like my book? What if they don’t like my writing? What if I’m ridiculed and criticized?
You don’t have to work imagine the “what ifs” — they attack you without effort. It’s risky to put yourself out there for all the world to see. But what if you turned those fearful “what ifs” into something positive? What if your pain is the path to another person’s healing? What if you could change, even save, someone’s life? What if you help someone who is without hope? What if writing your book actually helps to heal you?
You’re the only one who has your story. You’re the only one who can write it.
When I became a nonfiction book coach, I made a promise to be real, authentic, and in the words of Lissa Rankin, to let my freak flag fly! Maybe your story is like mine, or maybe it’s totally different. There are so many stories that can be inspirational — even lifesaving — for others. Share what you’ve faced. Share what you’ve learned. Share what you’ve discovered. You can be a messenger of hope and help.
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