Can I Get Unstuck From Old Thinking Patterns? With Allison Fallon [Episode 144]
GIVEAWAY ALERT: You can win the book The Power of Writing It Down by this week’s podcast guest. Keep reading to find out how!
What if you could practice a simple habit to help you curb anxiety and depression, get unstuck from patterns that hold you back, build contentment and clarity, expand your confidence, and let you experience a happier, healthier, and more balanced life?
In this 4:13 Podcast episode, author and writing coach Allison Fallon is with us, and she has incredible news for you. Everything you need for the freedom you want is literally at your fingertips. Writing it down can improve your physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
Allison is the author of The Power of Writing It Down, as well as Packing Light and Indestructible. She’s a speaker and the founder of Find Your Voice. She has lived all over the country in the past decade but now lives in Pasadena, California, with her husband and daughter.
You’ll get practical methods, along with the groundbreaking scientific research, that will give you the how and the why to get you started. Friend, this is so good!
Jennifer’s Highlights and Take-Aways
Why we often run out of steam and can’t seem to change even when we try. Allison points out that most people quit New Year’s resolutions by the third week in January. (I must be a high achiever because I quit in just three days!)
We often try self-help to meet our goals. Yet, Allison shares that the self-help attitude and mindset is often “buck up, chin up, be positive, and muscle up.” But, for most of us, it is not effective or not effective for long. There is so much outside of our control, and relying on the self-discipline of self-help is also not the most holistic approach.
Allison says, “Lack of progress has nothing to do with lack of effort.” She further explains, “There is no such thing as a person who is not disciplined enough. The reality is that people are often not motivated enough. When we tap into our motivation, discipline isn’t even needed because our motivation propels us forward.”
How writing can help us experience the change we are looking for. If we set off to create change with white knuckles and without caring what could happen in the process, we miss out on the good work God is inviting us to do because, as Allison shares, “we are so focused on the objective that we miss the journey.”
Writing pulls thoughts from our subconscious level to our conscious level to help us understand what motivates us. It’s not a quick fix, but over time, we gain insights about ourselves and our lives that help us understand and create the life we want.
Often we can feel that something is off. We can’t identify it easily, though. We can think, “I shouldn’t feel this way,” or “I should feel thankful.” Allison recommends we listen to that voice. She encourages us to use writing to ask: Why am I feeling that way? What is out of alignment?
Writing can help locate the puzzle piece that is missing. And, when we locate that piece, things fall back into place, and our response is gratefulness. As we write it out, feelings can dissipate, and then they may disappear. That uncomfortable feeling—that feeling that something is “off”—won’t disappear if we ignore it.
Allison gives the example of how she heard friends say during the pandemic, “I don’t want to go negative.” She suggests that we “don’t go negative” but that we do “go into the negative” feelings to figure out what is buried there. Writing helps us know what we think and how we feel. Writing it out is not just about ending behaviors but about transforming who you are in the process.
Writing helps us get out of ruts. Allison explains how writing helps us access a part of our brains (the limbic system) that we don’t access very much on a daily basis. We live most often out of our prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain in charge of our executive function or higher-level thinking. It’s the part of our brain that identifies goals, strategizes, and keeps us on track.
Yet, the part of our brain that drives our daily behavior is our limbic system, and writing helps us access the limbic system. Writing helps us unearth the beliefs and motivations that actually motivate us on a daily basis.
Allison explains how when we access that part of our brain through writing, we have a better chance of changing our behavior. Thoughts that drive our daily behavior live in the limbic system. Writing unearths them. “Until we understand our thoughts,” she shares, “we have no chance to shift our behavior.”
So, can you start writing? Allison shares that anyone can write. She wants us to realize that even professional authors feel insecure. We need to lower the barrier and remind ourselves that we do write daily in text messages, social media, and emails. Even scribbles of words on a page count as writing. On writing, Allison says, “It’s not about good grammar. It’s about good thinking.”
She also shares that data shows that writing as little as 20 minutes a day, four days in a row, can increase our confidence and even increase the function of our immune system. (Wow, that is like word vitamins!)
If you’re not used to writing, she suggests you start with five minutes or two minutes, or just recording one thought a day, if that is all you can do. The more time you give to it, the more benefit you will get.
So, set a goal to start. For example, you could set aside five minutes before bedtime. As you build confidence and a habit, you will begin to experience the benefits. When the benefits start, you won’t stop.
Our culture gets it wrong. We think discipline comes first, and then the habit will carry us forward. But, as Allison so clearly shares, it’s the delight that fuels the discipline. So, if we ask God for the grace to help us begin to write, it can bring such benefit and delight that will fuel the discipline.
And, remember, it is through Christ, who strengthens you. He gives you the grace to be who He calls you to be and do what He created you to do.
- You can win a copy of Allison’s new book, The Power of Writing It Down: A Simple Habit to Unlock Your Brain and Reimagine Your Life. Hurry, we’re picking a random winner on June 11! Enter on Instagram here.
Books & Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
- Me, Myself, & Lies: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself
- Me, Myself, & Lies for Young Women: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself
- Me, Myself, & Lies: A Thought Closet Makeover Bible Study
More from Allison Fallon
- Visit Allison’s website
- The Power of Writing It Down: A Simple Habit to Unlock Your Brain and Reimagine Your Life
- Follow Allison on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
Links Mentioned in This Episode
- Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to the 4:13 Podcast here.
- Were you encouraged by this podcast? Reviews help the 4:13 Podcast reach more women with the “I can” message. Click here to leave a review on iTunes.
4:13 Podcast: Can I Get Unstuck From Old Thinking Patterns? With Allison Fallon [Episode 144]
Jennifer Rothschild: What if there was a simple habit that you could practice that would help you curb anxiety and depression, get unstuck from patterns that hold you back, build contentment, clarity and confidence, and let you experience a happier, healthier and more balanced life? Oh, I say if there is, let's do it. Well, today, author and writing coach Allison Fallon has some incredible news for you. Everything you need for the freedom you want is literally at your fingertips. Writing it down can improve your physical, emotional and spiritual health. So today you're going to get practical methods along with a scientific research that is going to show you the how and the why to get you started. Okay? This is going to be so good, our people. So sharpen your pencils, K.C. , here we go.
K.C. Wright: Welcome to the 4:13 Podcast, where practical encouragement and biblical wisdom set you up to live what we call the "I Can" life, because you can truly do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Now, your host, a woman who still hasn't ran out of her supply --
Jennifer Rothschild: I know what you're going to say.
K.C. Wright: -- of pandemic toilet paper.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yes.
K.C. Wright: She's got enough for everyone.
Jennifer Rothschild: Everyone toilet paper.
K.C. Wright: You get a roll, you get a roll. Jennifer Rothschild, you crack me up.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, you know, like, I took it really seriously, evidently. And I just thought we may not have food, but we will have toilet paper. And we still do, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome. We're glad you're here. I'm Jennifer here to help you be and do more than you feel capable of as you live this "I Can" life. We're so glad you're with us. It always gets better, podcasts get so much better when you show up. So thanks for being a 4:13er. And by the way, if you have not yet subscribed to the podcast, please subscribe. That way you won't miss an episode. And we're just going to shamelessly ask if you've never left a review, please leave a review.
K.C. Wright: Please. A kind one. Nice.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. Well, yes.
K.C. Wright: Five stars.
Jennifer Rothschild: We really don't want to know otherwise. No, actually we do. We want to keep this real. But seriously, when y'all leave a review, it really does help spread this news of hope-filled encouragement, just like we're talking about today. It's going to be super good, you guys, because we're talking about the power of writing it out. So if you're dealing with stress -- you know, because we say around here, it's just two friends, one topic --
K.C. Wright: One topic and zero stress.
Jennifer Rothschild: Exactly. But if you're dealing with any, Allison says that in as little as 5 to 20 minutes a day, scientific research shows that this daily practice of writing can undo some of that stress. Some of the old thinking patterns, you know. It's going to create some new brain pathways to get you to places of healing. I'm telling you, it's going to be some good stuff, so you're going to need to stick around and learn about this power of writing it out. I thought it was fascinating. but I got to say, K.C. writing it out does do some things you don't intend. Okay?
K.C. Wright: I feel a story coming on.
Jennifer Rothschild: It is. And it's a story I've never told because I am so embarrassed.
K.C. Wright: No, don't be. We're family.
Jennifer Rothschild: We are family. Okay. But I know this person. He's now a man. Lord, I hope nobody knows him. But --
K.C. Wright: Uh-oh. You better fess up.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, okay. But this was when we were in eighth grade.
K.C. Wright: Okay. Well...
Jennifer Rothschild: All right, so here's the scene, my people. In eighth grade, we were at the Christian camp -- it was a Baptist conference center at the time -- called Glorietta in New Mexico. Okay? And my dad used to, during the summers, teach at these Baptist conferences. Like it was training and equipping. He would do Ridgecrest, North Carolina. Well, this particular summer we did Glorietta, New Mexico. Some of you people who grew up in the Baptist Church, you know where I'm talking about. Okay. Well, that meant that other families, other dads, did the same thing, so there were a bunch of kids that I knew, every summer we would reconnect. Well, there was this one boy, and he was so cute. His name was Wesley. Wesley would have nothing to do with me. He was like three or four years older. Well, I was in eighth grade, and in New Mexico, you know, there were all these rocks everywhere. And so I found this really flat rock. I thought it was so cool. And I loved to draw and paint and do letters and all that stuff at the time. So I did the most beautiful representation of three words: "I Love Wesley." Okay, I did not know Wesley. I knew about him, but, you know, it was just a girlhood crush. Dumb. What was really dumb is what I did with that rock. Did I save it and put it in my dresser? No, I decorated it, I made it beautiful, and then I stood out on the balcony of these little apartments where we stayed that summer, where Wesley's family stayed, and I threw it. Well, somebody found it.
K.C. Wright: Uh-oh.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yes. Somebody found it and then I hear from somebody, "You're the only one that draws that well. Was that you? Did you do it? Wesley wants to know if you're" -- "No, no." I was so humiliated. So I get my little brother Lawson, I'm like, "Lawson, help me out." Okay, it clearly looks like a girl did this. Lawson's like in sixth grade. He's like, "I did it, I did it." He took one for the team. He's always rescued me, my sweet little brother, Lawson, who's also an amazing man. And so Wesley and I never connected. Our love was never blossomed. But K.C, it was like, that's -- so I'm just saying there is power in writing things out. You just got to be wise about what you write and to whom you send it. Okay? I'm just saying. So, Wesley, if you're out there, I do love you in the Lord, I'm sure. I have no idea who you are or what you're like, but, you know, God bless you, Wesley. So that's why we're talking about the importance of writing things out. But what Allison is going to teach us has nothing to do with my beautiful writing experience on a rock. So let's introduce Allison.
K.C. Wright: Well, one thing you've taught me, Jen, is I write a lot of emails back at people that I never send.
Jennifer Rothschild: And that's an important practice too.
K.C. Wright: Okay. Okay. So I do that a lot.
Jennifer Rothschild: Well, and you know what, you're going to hear from Allison that actually is important. That writing it out helps clarify what you think. But doesn't mean everybody needs to read it.
K.C. Wright: That's right. It was just for you. Allison Fallon is the author of "The Power of Writing It Down," as well as "Packing Light" and "Indestructible." She's a speaker and the founder of Find Your Voice. She has lived all over the country in the past decade, but now lives in Pasadena, California, with her husband and daughter.
Jennifer Rothschild: Well, Allison, I'm really excited that we're having this conversation because so many of us have read the books, you know, and downloaded all the apps and, you know, just done the self-help route. We've tried that. But for many people, it either hasn't helped or it hasn't helped for long, and so I'm so curious about your angle here, your premise. I would love for you to tell us how writing can actually lead to change.
Allison Fallon: Yes. Oh, man. Well, so much to say about that. I want to acknowledge really quickly what you said about self-help. Because one of the reasons I wrote this book is I have a big frustration with the self-help industry as a whole. And I do think that there's a lot of beneficial material that comes out of the industry, but one of my big frustrations with self-help in general is that the attitude, the mindset, tends to be a little bit like, you know, just kind of like buck up, keep your chin up and have a positive attitude, like, you know, muscle this thing into place in your life, it's time to get really serious and break that habit. And as you were mentioning, so many of us have learned that that approach is not effective, or it's not effective for very long. And if we didn't learn it before 2020, 2020 drilled that lesson into our heads that we don't have total control, that there are a lot of things that are outside of our control. And that approach to life, the sort of put your head down and make things happen isn't the most holistic approach that we can take to our lives. This book for me, what I really hope it is for people is an incredibly holistic, therapeutic process that anybody can use to bring more understanding and empathy and compassion to their own lives, so that in the end hopefully they can see some tangible changes. I have seen a ton of tangible changes in my own life, and a lot of the clients that we've worked with have seen really similar things. But if we set off to, you know, just create a change and that's the end objective and we don't care, you know, what else happens in the process, I think a lot of time we miss the really good spiritual, juicy work that God is inviting us to do because we're so focused on the objective that we miss, the journey.
Jennifer Rothschild: Well, and your journey that you're describing involves writing.
Allison Fallon: Yes.
Jennifer Rothschild: And I'm curious how that nuance can actually kind of break this cycle or make a difference. How does that work?
Allison Fallon: The really short answer is what writing is doing is it's helping you access a part of your brain that we don't access very much on a daily basis. Most of us live most of our lives out of our prefrontal cortex. This is actually the part of the brain that's your higher level of thinking part of your brain, or in charge of executive functioning, so it's the part of your brain that does all the things that I was just talking about. You know, It can, like, identify a goal, come up with a strategy or a plan to achieve that goal, kind of keep you on track toward that goal. And it's like a critical thinking part of your brain, so it will also remind you if you, like, miss a deadline or if you don't do something that you promise yourself that you would do. So most of us, when we get to the beginning of a year and we're thinking about New Year's resolutions, we approach New Year's resolutions from that frontal cortex. The problem is, the major problem, is the part of your brain that drives your daily behavior, most of your daily behavior, is your limbic system, which is a much deeper and more primal part of your brain. And writing helps us access the limbic system. So what we find when we put the pen to the page is we find the ideas, beliefs, feelings, et cetera, that are buried in our limbic system, that are actually driving our daily behaviors, that are getting us these outcomes that we wish we could change, like having better boundaries in our relationships or losing the ten pounds or whatever it is that we want to do with -- or reading more often, or whatever we want to do at the beginning of the year. So when we can access those thoughts, ideas, feelings, et cetera, that are buried in our limbic system, we have a much better shot at changing our behavior than we ever would from white knuckling or muscling that behavior into place. So just like you mentioned, this can be effective, but just not for very long, so most people abandon their New Year's resolutions before February even gets here. Most of the time by the third week in January people are like, what were even my resolutions? I don't remember.
Jennifer Rothschild: I know.
Allison Fallon: And my guess is at the beginning of 2021, a lot of us were very skeptical of New Year's resolutions because of the experience we had collectively in 2020. So if that was you and you didn't set any resolutions for yourself, that's great. A little different approach you could take to a resolution is just thinking about maybe a question like how might I want to feel in 2021 and then you could use writing -- this is just one example of hundreds of ways that you could use writing. But one really tangible example is like let's just say that in 2021 I want to feel free or I want to feel empowered. You could actually write little scenes for yourself of ways in your life that you could feel empowered. So when I work with writers, I'll say, like, you know, imagine that you're sitting in a movie theater and you're watching this happen on the big screen. Who's there in the room? What's happening? What are the words that are coming out of those people's mouths? What are the expressions on their faces? You could sit down and write out the scene of what it would look like in your life for you to feel free or feel empowered. And, you know, this is not like a quick fix magic pill kind of a thing we're instilling in your life, you're going to feel freer and empowered. But what happens over time is you start to get insights about yourself and about your life that will help you to create an environment where you're more likely to feel empowered or free.
Jennifer Rothschild: That's brilliant. You know, I have said many times in conversations with my team that I work with, or with my husband when we're dealing with something, Just give me all the information, but I'm not going to know what I think until I write it down.
Allison Fallon: Yes.
Jennifer Rothschild: And that's really how I'm wired, and it makes sense when you describe that. I was curious. You also describe in your book a feeling that you call the hang up.
Allison Fallon: Yes.
Jennifer Rothschild: And so I'm curious what that is and why should we listen to it when we feel it? Why should we respond to it?
Allison Fallon: So the hang up is that feeling in your life that something's kind of off. And usually we feel that feeling when for all intents and purposes we look around our life and think like, I shouldn't be feeling this way because, you know, I have a great job, I've got a great partner in my life, I've got wonderful kids, they're all doing well, they're thriving. You know, like, I should feel thankful. I've got money for food and clothes and whatever else I like to spend my money on and I have so much more than other people have. And we sort of question ourselves, like, why am I feeling off? And I encourage people to listen to that voice. A lot of us will say -- and the self-help industry does this to us a little too -- where we say what we really need is gratitude. Right? We need to just, like, get grateful for the things that we already have in our lives. And what I encourage people to think about is what if that feeling is telling you something? What if it's telling you about something in your life that is a little bit out of alignment? And because it's a little bit out of alignment, you're going to feel that sense of discontent until you fix it, until you get that back into alignment. You'll know it's back in alignment. It's like the feeling like a puzzle piece clicking into place when that clicks into place. And you actually don't have to talk yourself into feeling grateful for the things in your life because you just do feel grateful. I'm not saying that gratitude practice is not an important practice. It is. I think I'm wanting to bring a little bit of another angle to what we're often told to do, where it's just like pick five things you're thankful for and write them down every day and then, you know, hope that your attitude gets better.
Jennifer Rothschild: Ignore everything else, yeah.
Allison Fallon: I mean, maybe there's some times when whatever, quote/unquote, bad attitude we have needs to be paid attention to. It needs to be listened to, it needs to be -- we need to be curious about it, we need to figure out what it's trying to tell us so that we can respond to it in a meaningful way. And when we do respond to it in a meaningful way through a practice like writing, we start to see that feeling dissipate and even disappear
Jennifer Rothschild: I like dissipate and disappear. But it's not going to disappear unless you deal with it. And I think that's a healthy way to approach it. It doesn't mean you have to fall deep in a pit and indulge in all the negative or difficult feelings, but they're not going to go away just because you don't acknowledge them.
Allison Fallon: Totally.
Jennifer Rothschild: So it's such a smart response. I've never heard it called the hang up or -- I like that. I like that a lot.
Allison Fallon: Yeah, you -- something you said -- I just want to say really quickly -- I said the other day that I heard a lot of people during pandemic -- like, the worst of quarantine times saying that they didn't want to get negative or they didn't want to -- yeah, they didn't want to go negative. And my response was maybe don't go negative, but go into the negative to figure out what it's trying to teach you. So that's a tiny little shift there. It's like you don't have to get negative, you don't have to give in to the negativity, but you can go into the negativity to try to figure out what it's trying to tell you.
Jennifer Rothschild: Well, yeah, you've got to acknowledge it, otherwise, you are not healthy, you're just repressing and transferring and any other psychological term we want to apply to it. But we all know that it leads to sleepless nights and just a level of discontent. So I think that is such a good word. Because lots of us feel stuck. I have felt stuck. I know a lot of our listeners have felt stuck before. you know, like we just can't seem to change those things in our lives that keep us on that repeat cycle. And often we'll blame ourselves for being lazy or undisciplined, or maybe we're just not committed enough, you know.
Allison Fallon: Yes.
Jennifer Rothschild: And you say that's not the case. In fact, I think your quote was something like, Our lack of progress has nothing to do with our lack of effort.
Allison Fallon: Yes.
Jennifer Rothschild: That's very freeing. So unpack that for us.
Allison Fallon: So I say this to writers all the time, because people will say to me, like, you know, I would love to write, but I'm not disciplined enough. And I just say there's no such thing as someone who's not disciplined enough. This is about tapping into a motivation. We've all had this feeling where you wake up in the morning and there's something you're excited about and so you feel motivated to get out of bed. You don't need discipline to get out of bed, and just feel motivated. You feel -- you know, you could call it a bunch of different things. But because -- I'll just say it's like the life of God flowing through you, it's the Holy Spirit flowing through you, that feeling like, I don't need to be disciplined, I don't need my alarm to go off, like, I'm so excited to do what I'm here to do today that I'm sort of bouncing out of bed. So the reason I say that is to put people in touch with the fact that you have felt this before, you know what it feels like ,it does exist in you, it's just a matter of tapping into it and finding it. And that's what I mean by alignment. So -- I think I got off track from answering your question.
Jennifer Rothschild: Well --
Allison Fallon: Oh, yes, the --
Jennifer Rothschild: You're saying it's not our lack of effort.
Allison Fallon: So the difference in sort of, like, the mentality that, like, if you just -- you just have to put your head down and make this happen and don't ask questions and just get the job done. You could, of course, do that with any kind of habit or pattern in your life that you wanted to change. But like I mentioned at the beginning of this conversation, it wouldn't necessarily get you the outcome that you were looking for. Just because you are able to quit smoking, for example, that doesn't mean that your life has been completely taken over with the desire to smoke, the craving to smoke. You're thinking about it all the time, you're wishing you could smoke, you're sort of missing your life where you could smoke. What if there were a path that you could take where maybe it wouldn't be so cut and dry or so cold turkey, so black and white, but where you could actually transform as a human being and your desire to do the behavior you used to do could actually dissipate or disappear? This is the power of the writing process. The journey that you're going on is not just about ending the behavior, it's about actually transforming who you are as a person.
Jennifer Rothschild: Well, and I think what you're describing is how writing can help us get out of those ruts, you know --
Allison Fallon: Yes.
Jennifer Rothschild: -- and get out of those bad habits that we've carved for ourselves. So how does that happen? How does the writing do that for us?
Allison Fallon: So this -- I could talk for an hour about this, but I'll give you the short answer, is that writing, like I mentioned, helps you tap into that limbic part of your brain where your thoughts are -- the thoughts live that are driving your daily behavior. So the basic cognitive behavioral therapeutic model says that we have a thought which leads to a feeling, which leads to a response, which leads to a result. So you have thoughts buried in your limbic system that you don't even know are there, these are thoughts that are operating on a subconscious level. Those thoughts get activated by a certain something out there in the world, you know, like some driver honks at you, yells at you, flips you the bird, whatever, the thought gets activated and you feel a feeling, you feel a sensation in your body, it's like a rush through your body. And when you feel that rush through your body, you have a reaction or a response that is unique to you. There's a cocktail of emotions and then a response that's unique to specifically you. Some people, when they get honked at and flipped off, their response is to yell and get angry back. Other people is to sort of, like, cower away and be like, Hey, what did I do? And other people just sort of shrug it off and move on. The reason it's unique to you is because it has to do with the thoughts that are buried uniquely in your limbic system. So until we understand the thoughts that are in that part of our brain, we have no chance of shifting our behavior, understanding ourselves well enough that we can actually, you know, bring some change to that trained and learned behavior. And what writing does is it puts us in touch with those thoughts. So the thoughts that used to be operating at a subconscious level, what we want to do through the writing process is pull them up to your conscious level so that you can consciously think about them and decide, like, do I want to continue to act that way? And for most of us, it's like, no, I don't want to continue to act that way. Well, then we need to get curious and unpack where did that come from? What is that connected to from my life? What other stories could I tell where I felt this particular way? And as we unpack those things and untangle the knots, you'll find that your behavior just does change. You don't have to white knuckle it into place, it just does transform.
Jennifer Rothschild: It changes the pathway that you're traveling. It reminds me, too, that Scripture in -- I believe it's 2 Corinthians where we're told to hold every thought captive --
Allison Fallon: Yes.
Jennifer Rothschild: -- to the obedience of Christ. It's that reminder that you just need to dig down, see what those thoughts are, because that way you're not going to be on this unthinking autopilot, but you actually are holding those thoughts captive. And writing it down, I can see how it does that for you. One thing I'm curious about, though, Allison, I know there's some things in my life where I will start writing something and I'll get this sense of -- what is the best word -- awareness and insecurity, this combination of I don't know if I want to go there. I don't want to write something that's going to not be able to have a period at the end of it closure, that it's going to lead to a bigger ellipsis that's going to take me to other places. So my question would be, how does someone deal with that, and where does therapy or talking with a counselor need to come into that process for real healing to happen?
Allison Fallon: Well, first and foremost, I'm a huge, huge, huge advocate of therapy, so -- you know, writing is an amazing form of therapy. But if you can afford it and you feel that you might benefit from it, I say hire a therapist and use writing as an ancillary tool along with your therapy to speed up your healing process. I know there are plenty of people who don't have the insurance or can't afford the therapy, you know, but if you can afford it, if this is accessible for you, I don't think there's any person in the world who wouldn't benefit from entering into a therapeutic process. I'm a huge fan of therapists. If you feel that you need added support to process whatever you're processing on the page, again, if you have access to it, there's just no reason why you shouldn't do that. I think everyone stands to benefit from additional support.
Jennifer Rothschild: Well, yeah, I think -- I was a psychology major in college, so, of course, I'm a big advocate. I think everybody needs counseling. The ones who think they don't are the ones who need it most probably.
Allison Fallon: So true.
Jennifer Rothschild: But I did have a Christian counselor say to me many, many years ago, he said, "If the body of Christ did their job, I would lose mine."
Allison Fallon: Yeah.
Jennifer Rothschild: Now, granted, there are some traumas that we need a professional counselor for. But at the same time, there are many ordinary things that we deal with that just being honest with a friend and processing out loud invites honesty and healing into, you know, our situations. And then, of course, we can't discount the power of the Holy Spirit to kind of be the red light, the green light, and the yellow light in the process. But I know there's some people, too, who are listening and thinking, okay, this is new to me. And I like the idea, but I feel like writing, you know, it's just not for me, you know, it's for other people who are more articulate or more thoughtful, whatever. So can you explain to that intimidated person why writing is something that she can do or he can do?
Allison Fallon: So many of us don't think of ourselves as writers. I think one thing that's really helpful for, you know, like the average person who doesn't write on a daily basis, or doesn't think they write on a daily basis here, is that even the authors I've worked with who have published a dozen books of their own or who have sold millions of copies of those books or who are New York Times best-selling authors, even many of those authors will tell me, Well, I'm not really a writer, you know, I kind of stumbled into this accidentally. I'm not supposed to be here. So many of us feel that sense of being an imposter when it comes to writing. I think a lot of this comes from our cultural ideas about who is a writer and what does it really means to be a writer. A lot of these, I believe, are myths and misunderstandings. So I hope that helps for -- you know, just like the average person who's never published a book or never even thought about writing a book, I hope that helps to hear that all of us feel insecure about -- you know, I've written 13 books, three of my own, and then ten for other people, and I've worked with hundreds of writers to help them publish their books, and this is the work that I've done for the last 12 years of my life, and still sometimes I feel insecure about calling myself a writer. So you're in really good company, you're not alone. And then I would just say, like, as much as you can kind of, like, lower the barrier of entry, just remind yourself that you do write on a daily basis. You know, do you send at least two to three text messages, emails or other kinds of messages through social media every day? Yes, most of us. I mean, almost all of us -- it would be hard to survive in the modern world without, you know, writing, composing, sending messages every single day. So you do write. Every single day you write and you are a writer. You don't have to have perfect grammar to be a writer. I always say, you know, good grammar is not good writing, good thinking is good writing. And so, you know, you do not have to have perfect grammar to be a writer. And your sentence structure doesn't have to be perfect. In fact, some of the most healing, transformative writing sessions I've had have been either like bullet point lists or just like scribbles of words on the page that I feel like, you know, are being given to me through prayer and meditation. So just kind of capturing whatever it feels like is happening in your mind at the time is the goal, the objective here. The goal is not to come out with some perfectly polished, you know, like perfect grammar, beautiful piece of art that you could share with the world, although, you know, who knows? You never know. You might come out -- you might come up with something that you'd like to share with another person or more than one other person.
Jennifer Rothschild: Well, I think you just gave a lot of freedom there when you said it's not about good grammar, it's about good thinking. And I would include it's not about good spelling either, it's about good thinking.
Allison Fallon: I agree, yes, yes.
Jennifer Rothschild: So if someone is feeling a little more confident, like, okay, I might be able to try this. So let's get real practical. How much time a day does a person need to really be able to benefit from this? And what are some ways to make writing a habit?
Allison Fallon: I agree, yes. So the data shows that with as little as 20 minutes a day for four days in a row, you can see a measurable improvement in your mood and a bunch of other things. You see increased confidence, you see actually a better functioning of your immune system, all kinds of other really great benefits. Sometimes when I say 20 minutes a day four days in a row, people are like, Whoa, that is so much time. And other people are like, Oh, that's easy, just 20 minutes, no big deal. I think it really depends on your life circumstance. I have a five-month-old daughter and I went within a couple of years from being single, living on my own, to being married and having a five-month-old daughter, and I will say 20 minutes feels really different to me now than it did four years ago.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yes.
Allison Fallon: So 20 minutes, I can see -- you know, it can feel like a lot of time. If it feels like a lot of time with you, don't -- or if it feels like a lot of time for you, don't start with twenty minutes, start with five or start with two or start with just recording one thought that you have each day. Because even though the data, you know, has demonstrated the incredible benefits that you can receive from 20 minutes a day, that doesn't mean that five minutes a day isn't going to help you. It is going to help you. It's just that, you know, just like anything, the more time that you give to it, the more benefit that you're going to get. So if you can build a really strong foundation for your writing life by setting a goal for yourself that actually is attainable, so just saying like every day I'm going to write down one thought that comes to my mind, it's the first thing I'm going to do every morning, or saying, like, I'm going to set aside five minutes before I go to bed, just record something that happened that day that felt important to me, then, you know, you can start to build your confidence for yourself as a writer, and you can also start to, you know, build that habit into your life, start to see some of the benefits leak in. And then just like I talked about, as soon as that starts to happen and you start to see the benefits from it, you won't need to white knuckle this into place, you won't need to find the discipline to do it, You have the energy and the life to do it because it's going to be giving back to you tenfold what you gave to it.
Jennifer Rothschild: You know, I do agree, I think our culture gets it wrong because we think discipline comes first and then the habit's going to carry us forward, you know. But actually it is the delight that fuels the discipline. So that's why we ask God for the grace to help us begin to write it out. And when we do, it can bring that delight, that benefit, so that's going to then help fuel the discipline. So, you know, remember the point of this podcast, our people, it is through Christ. He will strengthen you, He will give you grace to be who he calls you to be and do what He's called you to do and created you to do. So that means we can do this. We can do this. Twenty minutes, four days in a row. Or if that's too daunting for you, like Allison said, you start where you are, you know, one sentence, one thought, even one word. See if it makes a difference. I believe it will.
K.C. Wright: I'm going to do this myself, even if it's just on the notes app on my phone, because I love how practical this is.
Jennifer Rothschild: I know. Me, too. And it's just going to be doable for all of us. But if you want to learn more, you can hopefully win her book on my Instagram. So you guys who have been 4:13'ers for a while, you know how to do that. You just go to my profile on Instagram @JenRothschild, or you can go to the show notes at 413podcast.com/144, and we'll get you connected there. And you'll also get connected on the show notes to my takeaways and my highlights, because I took notes from our conversation, so those may be helpful to you also.
K.C. Wright: If you aren't on Audible, you can get her audiobook for free with a free no-obligation 30-day trial. I love all things free. I even love junk mail. But go to 413podcast.com/audible to get this for -- did I mention free?
Jennifer Rothschild: Free.
K.C. Wright: So we are winding down today's podcast and I'm going to write down how I feel about it. Remember, no matter what you face or how you feel right now, you can do all things through Christ who gives you supernatural dunamis strength? I can.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, I can.
K.C. Wright: And you can.
Jennifer Rothschild: You can. Good stuff, K.C. Wright.
K.C. Wright: So good.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. So I'm wondering, when you were that age, like eighth grade, did you pass notes to your friends, like love notes and all that?
K.C. Wright: Oh yeah. I mean, that's how we communicate. No social media for us.
Jennifer Rothschild: No texting.
K.C. Wright: Yeah. It was the little notes. And you put them in a triangle and you flipped them across the class.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yes. We did that too.
K.C. Wright: Yeah.
Jennifer Rothschild: I know.
K.C. Wright: Oh, absolutely.
Jennifer Rothschild: Wouldn't it be fun to read those now?
K.C. Wright: Well, I've got some of those notes saved somewhere in the garage.
Jennifer Rothschild: Do you really?
K.C. Wright: Oh yeah.
Jennifer Rothschild: Okay, that's --
K.C. Wright: I am impressed with your memory from eighth grade, though. I think through counseling, all of my memories from my elementary days have finally disappeared. A lot of money went into that. But I'm impressed that you have a memory from eighth grade.
Jennifer Rothschild: Trauma never forgets. Trauma never forgets.
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