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  • Writer's pictureJaveria Fatima Zaidi

Reclaiming Motherhood: Unlocking Self-Regulation and Emotional Stability

Updated: Jul 29, 2023

As an expressive writing life coach*, I have the privilege of accompanying highly sensitive women on their journeys of self-discovery, helping them harness the transformative power of words. While it may be tempting to stereotype all HS into the same mould, it is important to remember that high sensitivity exists on a spectrum, so each HS is different from the next (but there could be some similarities).

(*Read more about my journey in this post - Expressive Writing: A Therapeutic Practice to Improve Your Life)

These women’s’ stories are as unique as they are, but a common thread weaves them together: the drive to use writing as a therapeutic outlet; to understand and express their emotions, and to reclaim a sense of self-control. Today, I share the journey of one such mother, a testament to the immense potential of expressive writing.

Let's call her 'Samantha'.

Samantha, a mother of three and an Early Years Practitioner, had always been in roles where she offered help to others. Her kind nature was both a gift and a challenge, but she began to feel that the scales were tipping too much towards the latter. With a challenging marital relationship, personal circumstances and the demands of motherhood, Samantha began feeling disconnected from her children and herself.

“I felt as if my motherhood was hijacked from me," she shared with me during one of our sessions. Her story was one of a ship adrift on stormy seas, without a compass or guiding star.

Seeking a lifeline, Samantha discovered the idea of therapeutic writing and was intrigued. When we began working together, she was introduced to expressive writing: a method focused on the deep and honest exploration of feelings, thoughts, and experiences. The objective was clear: to write candidly about her emotions, thus facilitating self-understanding and emotional processing.

Samantha’s journey of self-discovery through journal writing was a revelation for her. The blank pages of her notebook soon brimmed with her hopes, fears, joys, and challenges. As she wrote regularly, Samantha began to see positive changes in her life. She articulated, “I have become more aware and mindful of my interactions as a result of you being my life coach.”

Expressive writing allowed Samantha the freedom to examine her emotions and responses without judgement. Through writing, she learned the real reasons underlying her distress; she was able to connect with her inner child that was continually triggered by her current circumstances. By investing the time and resources into her self-awareness, she managed to de-escalate emotionally charged situations, reduce her stress, and approach her children with enhanced empathy. Her children mirrored this positive shift, seeming happier, more secure, and more expressive of their feelings. She even began healing her ruptured relationships with her parents.

The most striking transformation was seen in her eldest child, who had previously engaged in self-harming behaviours. Samantha recalled the urgency with which we redirected our focus onto her child, responding to this revelation. This attentive and devoted response allowed us to steer our coaching sessions towards a more family-focused approach. I called on my parent coaching and counselling background and was able to craft a detailed remedial plan for the child. Together, Samantha and I examined every aspect of her child’s life, analysing which needs were unmet, and how best to fulfil them without leaving Samantha burned out.

As a result, Samantha observed, "[My child] is more relaxed, more upbeat, more connected. I have seen immense improvement in them specifically."

Expressive writing, as Samantha discovered, isn't simply jotting down what happened during your day. It's a deeper journey into the heart of your experiences and emotions. For Samantha, it began with 'free writing', an exercise where she would write continuously for 20 minutes about a given prompt, without worrying about grammar, punctuation, or coherence.

The purpose? To bypass her internal editor and delve into her subconscious mind.

She also utilised specific prompts to ignite introspection, like 'What am I feeling right now and why?' or 'Write a letter to your past self/future self.' These exercises led her to startling realisations and profound emotional release. We spent a number of sessions discussing the childhood traumas that continued to affect Samantha’s current life.

Samantha’s story illustrates the ripple effect of emotional wellbeing on our loved ones, especially our children. By managing her emotions through writing, she created a healthier, more present environment for her children. She was able to reclaim a part of her motherhood, providing her children with ‘not just her time but also her presence’.

This client’s transformation is not unique. Indeed, numerous studies have echoed Samantha's experience, demonstrating the profound impact of expressive writing on emotional health. Research published in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, for instance, indicates that expressive writing can significantly decrease symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Another study in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that this practice also led to improved sleep, better immune system function, and enhanced mood.

If Samantha's journey inspires you, why not start your own expressive writing journey? Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Set aside at least 20 minutes a day for your writing. This could be first thing in the morning or just before bed.

2. Start with freewriting to bypass your internal editor. Write about anything that comes to mind, without worrying about grammar or punctuation.

3. Use writing prompts. Start with something simple like 'How am I feeling today?' or 'What's on my mind?' I regularly share writing prompts on my Instagram page, and share random thoughts on Threads, if that’s more your speed! ;)

4. Remember that your writing is for you alone. Don't worry about what anyone else might think.

Samantha’s transformative journey through expressive writing demonstrates how the simple act of putting pen to paper can bring about immense positive change. Her newfound understanding of herself, her improved emotional balance, and, most importantly, her reclaimed connection with her children show the healing power of words.

Samantha's journey isn't an isolated one. I have shared a few other success stories in the previous blog post, titled Holding Space for Self and Others.

The therapeutic power of expressive writing is open to all. If you're a highly sensitive woman struggling with emotional regulation or stress, consider the power of your pen. The journey may be challenging, but the rewards, as evidenced by Samantha's story, can be profoundly impactful.

(Please note that while Samantha is based on a real client, some details have been changed to protect the client's privacy. To view the client's testimonial in her own words, click here.)

Embrace your sensitivity. It's not a flaw; it’s a gift, a superpower. Channel it through expressive writing. Transform it into a tool for self-regulation and emotional stability. Reclaim your life, your identity, and discover serenity amidst the storm.

The path to self-understanding and emotional stability begins with the first word on a blank page.

Are you ready to write YOUR story?

Stay tuned to Pen&Heal for more insights, stories, and therapeutic writing tips to help you navigate your journey towards a more peaceful, empowered life.

If you’d like to read more of my personal writings and ramblings, take a look at my personal blog:

This is my outlet for personal writings, rants and book reviews.

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