Self-Authoring: Meeting myself
I recently started to follow the work of Jordan B. Peterson - a Canadian professor of psychology and clinical psychologist, a bit more intensely.
While doing some research about his work, I discovered that he is also one of the founders of a program called Self-Authoring. As I had not heard anything about it before, I needed to educate myself a little bit.
What is Self-Authoring?
The term Self-Authoring is chosen pretty straightforward as it is a writing program in which you are writing about yourself. More precisely: While writing, you are going on a journey to discover your past, present, and future to become happier, less anxious and depressed, and physically healthier.
The idea is that spending time writing about yourself helps you to achieve this.
OK, that sounds good - like really, really good.
What I learned so far is that there is undoubtedly enough to suffer and worry about for everyone, every day. There is no one that had not faced a tragedy, a loss, or a traumatic situation in their life. And if you think you have not - then surely it will come your way. Therefore, a bit of help to cope with one's life is welcome. And indeed, their claim about writing is based on research and proven findings.
Let's have a quick look at the people behind the program:
The Self-Authoring has been designed by a group of clinical and research psychologists from the University of Toronto and McGill University, namely Jordan B. Peterson, Ph.d., Daniel M. Higgins, Ph.d., and Robert O. Pihl, Ph.d.
They created a homepage for the Self-Authoring where you can find a lot of information about the program incl. a bit of research that is, among others, based on the findings of James Pennebaker back in 1986, who has linked written narrative to enhanced mental and physical health.
After checking the page and their backgrounds a bit, I think their claims seem to be far away from fluffy talk to sell a self-aid program.
I was diving further into the topic, and I concluded that those men know what they are talking about. Their assertions, such as people becoming more productive, persistent, and engaged in life by carefully writing about themselves, are based on scientific findings and have been proven with thousands.
I recommend watching with video to learn more:
And yes, I agree that writing has or can have catharsis effects. I mean the European meaning of catharsis as cleaning, not aggression or ranting. When you are trying to boil down a situation or an experience to a sentence, paragraph, or story, you are actively working on the feelings that are bound to it, and this can help you understand what happened and what happened to you.
Before opting into anything, I always need to do my due diligence and evaluate to avoid wasting time or money on something that has no value.
But after checking the page, some information and research they are referring to, and reading some reports from people who did the course, I opted in. The cost is relatively low when comparing it with what I was expecting. I think I won't lose too much as we are talking about less than 15€ for my spot in the program.
I was a bit excited.
Furthermore, I had no idea where this program would lead me personally. I was curious to meet myself.
Or whether I would be able to meet a part of me that I wasn't aware of, as sometimes, I am not too sure whether I know myself inside out. Far too often, I am way too surprised about myself.
As it was on top of the list (maybe just because it was alphabetically ordered) I started with the future authoring part: I read the tasks carefully and went through the first steps.
Luckily, those were easy to follow, and I had the feeling, even though entirely on my own, that the program guided me thoroughly.
When I started the first writing task I quickly had my first aha!-moment. The task was relatively easy: Write down what you have in mind for 10 minutes straight. Not worry about typos or grammar or look and feel. Just type type type and let the thoughts out.
When doing this for one minute, there is not much happening. I was in an "I don't know what I should write about"-situation, but I kept on writing, and in minute two, I still felt odd, but less odd because the words were coming and after writing more and more and longer and longer I was surprised what happens: The writing had opened a door, and things came out I was not expecting to come out at all. Or maybe I wasn't even expecting them to be inside me in the first place.
Wow - interesting!
So yeah, the program has a point. A good one actually.
And while I had some issues initially to figure out what I want I had a fascinating clear expectation of what I did not want in my future. So even though I could not paint a clear picture of my future, I was able to define what I wanted to avoid, like the plague and damn - that put some motivation on me. I will make sure that hell freezes over before this nightmare becomes true.
I am now smarter than a few days ago. Or maybe not smarter, but I have a clearer picture now. My awareness is higher, I am more thoughtful, and my goals are more defined.
Pretty impressive outcome after a bit of careful writing, right?
The journey continues
I am not done with the program yet, and I will not rush through it. Moreover, I plan to take my time to think through it to get the most out of it as I have the feeling that it is a beneficial tool.
One example of why I believe it is beneficial:
Within the present authoring suite, there was another mind-blowing realization waiting for me. Here, you are going deep into your virtues and your faults.
Interestingly to mention at first is: Defining those is doable and even more: It is not difficult. This alone was giving me a range of insights that I did not have before as clearly as I have now.
Today, I can firmly say that there are a couple of things I am good at. Can you do the same?
Furthermore, I know where I am lacking competence and skills. But - I also know how I can become better and compensate for my faults and work on myself so that these do not worsen my life. The program let me discover that.
Just this knowledge is worth more than the 15€ I paid. If I had only known all this ten or 15 years ago 😅
At this stage, I am pretty much convinced that what they said on their homepage is correct:
"Thinking about where you came from, who you are and where you are going helps to chart a simpler and more rewarding path through life."
Well - and if there's anything that helps make life simpler and navigate in the complex and unguided experience it is, I am all in.
Lastly, as far as I can tell, the access to the authoring program is unlimited in time. That means I could delete my writing and start over again next year and see what has changed. But I am not there yet. I am still working on my first look at my past, present, and future.