National Eating Disorders Association

Writing Can’t Help Me Make Decisions (But it Could Give You Clear Perspectives)

Carolyn Jennings

I can waiver back and forth endlessly and aimlessly on a decision. In thought or on paper, my mind can justify Choice A or Choice B (or Choices C and D!).  I'll list out pro's and con's in side-by-side columns, but that doesn't necessarily clarify either.  I can sink into frustration and feel inept and stuck.

What gives me better guidance is writing from future Perspectives.  In Journal to the Self: Twenty-Two Paths to Personal Growth, Kathleen Adams, founder and director of The Center for Journal Therapy, describes Perspectives writes as a way to “fast-forward yourself in time and space and write from the point of view of having already made the choice.”  The first write is “I've made choice A and my life is_________.”  The next write is “I've made choice B and my life is ____________.”


Several years ago I was deciding whether to self-publish or try the traditional route to getting a poetry collection published by submitting the manuscript to contests as many of my friends were doing.  I wrote from the Perspectives of one year later.

In the Perspectives write of the traditional route, I find myself competing against an enormous number of poets with talent and credentials, jumping through the hoops of contest rules and shelling out entry fees.  I collect a lot of rejections.  This is all I have to show for my time, money and effort.  Worst of all, I'm doing what I have traditionally done—looking for some “authority” to decide my work is “good enough.”  I'm giving my power away, waiting subserviently like a “good girl.”

From the Perspectives write of self-publishing, one year later “I am holding Hunger Speaks in my hands.  It is beautiful.  It feels good.  I am fulfilled and engaged—not from the ego but from the heart.  I am finding my way like a fish wiggling through water.”

So let's see...competing, jumping through hoops and shelling out fees subserviently vs. fulfilled and engaged and like a fish wiggling through water!  The Perspectives journaling uncovered how unhappy I would be waiting for someone else to approve and accept my work.  Succeed or fail, it was crystal clear that I needed to create a book on my terms.  I did self-publish.  I remain ecstatic about the decision.

Adams writes that a Perspectives entry is “an excellent vehicle to give your subconscious mind a voice as to what it is holding as an expectation...And since our subconscious expectations exert a not-so-subtle influence on our conscious perceptions, life becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”


What decision is your mind juggling?  Job change?  Geographic move?  Turning point in a relationship?  Are you contemplating a new food plan or therapist or therapy?  Are you wanting to take a risk but unsure?  I was scared of the time, money and responsibility of self-publishing.  The certainty that evolved from writing my Perspectives moved me past the fear.

Write each of your Perspectives in the present tense: you've already made the change—or are living with the decision not to change.  Date each write on the same future date—whatever date makes the most sense to you.  It could be one year from today, two months after the move or three weeks living on the new food plan.

Write your Perspectives.  Read them.  How does each alternative feel?  What else do you notice?  Jot those feeling and observations after the Perspectives entries.

Which future best nourishes you?

Why do Perspectives often bring insight not otherwise available?  Adams explains, “We often block ourselves from really knowing what we want because we think we can't have it or we shouldn't want it.  But we hold in our awareness, even if it is on the unconscious level, an inherent wisdom that wants to guide us in the direction of our fullest development.  The Perspectives technique can give this wisdom a voice.”

"If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise."

- Robert Fritz

By Carolyn Jennings, author of HUNGER SPEAKS a memoir told in poetry and Journal to the Self® Certified Instructor