The Woman Whose Hair Refused To Be Controlled — A Journaling Technique for Self-Discovery

Wearing a hat is a minimally effective tool for hair control

One of my favorite tools for self-acceptance and healing is my trusty journal.  I’ve used it for years. It’s how I figure out what’s going on when I’m depressed, anxious, lonely, or craving another hot fudge sundae. I gain insight, process emotion, and receive guidance. I’m going to share one technique with you here, including a sample entry from my journal from a few years ago. Thus the title of this post.

Here’s how it works: I write a story about me in the third person. I always title it The Woman Who…. based on what I’m grappling with at the time. I stay open to what might appear and I just start writing until I come to a conclusion that usually surprises me. I try to include humor and not take myself too seriously. Titles have included: The Woman Who Was a Mystery to Herself. The Woman Who Lived with a Bear. The Woman Who Couldn’t Stop Crying. The Woman Who was Afraid of a House.

You get the idea.

So, here’s an entry from around 2012. In the days before blogging, when my life was not as effervescent as it is now. (Please excuse the occasional expletive.)

The Woman Whose Hair Refused To Be Controlled

It was in her hair. The control. If she let her hair be free, all hell would break loose. If her hair was free, she couldn’t hide. She’d walk into a room and people would notice her. She’d walk into a room and people would see how unappealingly ethnic she looked. She’d walk into a room and people would be appalled at her bold, expressive, obnoxious, overexcitable hair. She’d walk into a room and people would ask her to be responsible for something.

And then what? Her safe, secure, smallish world might explode on her, shattering her melancholy somewhat uneventful life. And who knows what might emerge from there? Surely something large, loud, slimy and smelly. Which would be intolerable. At least her melancholy somewhat uneventful life was not large, loud, slimy and smelly. There was that.

And she liked control. She. Loved. It. Who doesn’t? Anyone who grows up in any sort of moderately to severely dysfunctional family craves the sweetness of control. Of being out from under the fuckedupedness. Into one’s own world. Creating one’s own path. Away from the neediness, the unspoken rage, the cold criticism. Even if one’s own path leads to fuckedupedness. It’s your very own fuckedupedness. And that was fine. She could live with that.

Almost. Except for the fact that her hair kept popping out of its containers. No matter the conditioners, the gels, the paraben-free shampoos. The clips. The braids. The hats. The avocado-banana-yogurt masks. Her hair could not be contained. It screeched LOOK AT ME at every turn. It cried I AM HERE. It yelped I’M A REBEL AND I’M PROUD.

Oh boy.

What to do? What to do?

Well, of course, there was the obvious. Cut it all off. I’m kidding. That was not an option. She could let it unravel and see what happened. It’s possible that she could still maintain a modicum of control even with her rude hair showing its true self. And, she had to admit that other people didn’t see it as obnoxious or overexcitable. They seemed to like it. They even wanted it for themselves.

Maybe it was time. She wasn’t getting any younger. What if she was seen? What if people noticed? What if she claimed that she was alive, rebellious and proud? What if her true self screeched, I AM HERE. Would that be so bad? What if she came to love her control AND her unruly hair. Maybe they could coexist.

Maybe she’d have MORE control if she let her hair go.  Would that be possible? Was she misguided all this time? Was there true control in no control? Was she getting a little too Buddhist here? Maybe saying YES to her hair, she was saying YES to life. Perhaps there was even room to expand, to grow, to evolve, from her melancholy somewhat uneventful life.

Perhaps her effervescent, expansive, evolving hair could lead the way.


To my bloggEEs: What do you think? If you try this technique for yourself, let us know how it goes. Do you keep a journal? What works for you? And, by the way, if I were to design an online class for us, what might you want included? Thank you as always for being here. Sending you much unruly love.

(Note: If you’re reading my book, ahem, I’d so appreciate a review on Amazon. It doesn’t have to be long or perfect. Thank you!)


Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

42 responses to “The Woman Whose Hair Refused To Be Controlled — A Journaling Technique for Self-Discovery”

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  1. Depressed? Anxious? Gifted? Get Yourself Some Intellectual And Creative Stimulation Pronto! | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] significant depression and anxiety influencers like hormones, food sensitivities, allergies, and bad hair days. (OK. That last one is very […]

  2. Kate Avatar

    “The Woman Who Was an Open Mic of One”
    This woman found herself as the only reader, with five poems to share, along with visuals, at the open mic evening, where she had hoped that by announcing her poetry project on Facebook ahead of time, people would be inspired to come to the open mic.
    But alas, only the open mic coordinator, an accomplished writer and academic herself, was there, and not even she wanted to read her own work.
    So The Woman Who Was an Open Mic of One read her work, but it didn’t make her feel connected; it didn’t make her feel accomplished; it didn’t make her feel closeness and intimacy; it didn’t make her feel understood and supported; and it didn’t make her feel happy.
    In fact, it made her feel alone.
    And all she had wanted to do was share, to spread the joy, happiness, deep satisfaction and fulfillment, even soul-growth and nurturing creativity and richness that she felt doing her poetry project, with others.
    But there were no ears to hear.
    Once again, there were no ears to hear.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I hear you, Kate. We hear you. <3

      1. Kate Avatar

        Thanks, Paula! Guess this post struck a nerve, and I was venting, lol! But this is a wonderful journaling technique. I have more than 50 journals, going back to age 16. I definitely will use this technique frequently!

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Venting here is just fine, Kate. Yes. I probably have about 50 journals, too. Back to age 19, although I think I had one of those diaries with a key when I was 12…

          1. Kate Avatar

            Yes, I had one of those diaries at age 12, too. My mother easily broke into it and read it, so that was that … until at age 16 I could no longer not write … 🙂

  3. Karen Avatar

    I love this idea! I started journalling again last year, following the Morning Pages idea, and it’s been fascinating seeing what has resulted. The idea of being more of an observer feels like a really good one, I’m definitely going to try it!
    And I’d also love some form of online class/forum/discussion group. I absolutely loved your book – and would love to talk and untangle ideas and concepts from it with other rainforest minds!! Also, maybe a group for parents of challenging rainforest minds?

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I hope you enjoy the process, Karen. I’ve found it to be pretty powerful! Thanks for your ideas on the class. A book group could be fun. I’ve heard of some already going. Of course, they don’t need me for that! I’m still playing around with ideas. I probably won’t go with a group for parents. Do you know about the FB groups for parents? There are at least a few of them.

      1. Karen Avatar

        No, I didn’t know about any of these groups – either the book groups or the groups for parents. I’d love to find out more – where and how would I look for them? On Facebook, through your website?

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Oh, the book groups aren’t online but I just know of a couple of folks around the country who are running local groups. But for parenting, you can look for Parenting Gifted Children and Hoagies Gifted Discussion Group. There are also groups for parents if your child is 2e or twice exceptional. Look for 2e Network International and others. And, Karen, you could start your own FB group based on my book… or a local book group.

          1. Karen Avatar

            Thanks – I’ll take a look at these resources, and have a think about starting my own group – erk!

  4. bethplanetbethcom Avatar

    I think this is an excellent idea. Wow I have so many potential stories that would basically write themselves. My problem is that, I am not patient enough for writing. I am a 360 degree thinker so what could be fun for me is to pretend that I’m a cinematographer or a photojournalist! I could find a bunch of old magazines at work, and could draw stuff, too, really the sky is the limit. I can feel myself getting excited about this. Thanks Paula for the creative idea!!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Wow! That sounds very cool, Beth.

  5. medleymisty Avatar

    I’ve kept personal blogs for years. Not sure how well doing my journaling in public has worked out for me, in some respects. 😉 In other respects though it’s really helped other people, so, you know. Like everything it has its good bits and its bad bits.

    I love your entry here! 🙂 It’s well-written and creative and interesting and good.

    One thing that my blogs have taught me is that I am not a linear self. There is a pattern there that I think can be identified as Me, and it seems to be on a slow spiral upwards on a developmental slope, but yeah, there’s no direct path from me at one point in time to me at another later point in time. I forget things, I rediscover epiphanies I had years ago, I say things at one point that horrify me at another point, I repeat myself without realizing it, I declare issues solved only for them to pop back up later, sometimes worse, etc. In other words, I’m human. 😉

    I always notice your hair in your pic, and I like it a lot. 🙂

    Thinking about the online class….

    I don’t know if this applies to the majority of people with rainforest minds or if it’s just a personal thing, but I know that I could really use some more understanding of people with other sorts of minds, and tips on better ways to communicate with them. I think that’s tied into some of the more negative reactions to my habit of journaling in public – vast misunderstandings that neither side knows how to mend. We’ve all always only had our brains, you know, and it can be so hard to really understand how a person whose brain is significantly different from yours perceives reality.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Maybe I’ll write a post on communicating with other types of minds. Thanks for the suggestion. And I think others will find your nonlinear description applicable, medleymisty. As always, thank you for being here. By the way, of course the photos of me are when my hair is on its best behavior….no photos are allowed on those overexcitable occasions.

  6. Sarah Avatar

    Happiness comes not from having what you want but from wanting what you have.

    I loved this post and couldn’t help but think of the quote above whilst reading your story.

    You have amazing hair. I went to a museum yesterday and there was a sculpture of a queen with tight waves/loose curls to her hair which reminded me both of a picture of an angel on a decorative box that I’d seen and your hair.

    I have binary hair. Ponytail or not a ponytail. That’s all it can seem to manage (or all I can manage) to do without coming undone.

    I think the grass will always seem greener on the other side unless we examine it closely and learn to appreciate our unique shade.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Is life simpler with binary hair, Sarah? Thank you for your wisdom.

      1. Sarah Avatar

        Probably. It hasn’t really created problems. It has to be kept at a certain magical, happy length is all. Too short and ponytail is not possible. Way too short and my face looks fat. In between and it flies in my face and I have no recourse.

        I don’t really think about my hair very much. It doesn’t make me.

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Makes sense, Sarah. It’s the curly effervescent hair that forces a person to think about it. 🙂

  7. the glimmering girl Avatar
    the glimmering girl

    YAAAAASSSS!! I love your hair and this post is perfection.

  8. Gail Post, Ph.D. Avatar
    Gail Post, Ph.D.

    Paula, This is great! Such a great technique for journaling and self-expression. I will pass this along. And I am glad you are starting to appreciate your hair. I also have hair with a mind of its own. I never understood people whose hair sits calmly on their heads – in place, lol.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I always wanted calm hair, Gail. 🙂 But no more!

  9. Cheri Avatar

    Love the beginning “The woman who”. Going to use it today. Namaste, Paul’s.

  10. Sonia Avatar

    Dear Paula, sometimes is really curious to see how related is our hair with our self acceptance. I remember that when I got divorced the first thing tha I did was going to the hairdresser and ask him to dye my hair. Around 10 years after I returned to my natural color. Just at the same time that I was accepting the failure of my marriage as something that simply happens. Is not the end of the world. Thank you for the story. Always so interesting and helpful.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, Sonia. I bet others have stories about changing their hair during/after important events in their lives. Definitely connected to self-acceptance.

    2. Carina Avatar

      Calm hair, lol. My hair was always as unruly as yours, Paula, though it’s wavy, not curly. Its waves get tangled with each other and I need to use tons of conditioner. Bad hair days are terrible. 😉 It begs for trimming at least one every two months, or else… Lots of people have commented on how untidy it looks. Whatever. And now, to top it all, I’m losing lots of it due to post-pregnancy. 🙁

      Journaling is great. I kept a “dear diary” with a padlock, you know!, between age 7 and around 20. Later I would use a common notebook. Who’d care to read my private stuff anyway, lol? I’ve also occassionally written my thoughts on Facebook and on a personal blog. It’s a very good, therapeutic habit. I will try the technique of the woman who…

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        We unruly folks need to stick together! I’m glad you will try the technique. Let us know how it goes, Carina.

  11. Jen Merrill Avatar
    Jen Merrill

    PAULA!!! I love this!! 😊♥️♥️
    I journal daily, only missing a day if I’m too wiped too think. I rarely know what I think until I start writing, so it’s been a great addition to my life. But this? Is brilliant. I’ll be adding this to my journaling.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, Jen. I hope you enjoy the process. It could be interesting, with your sense of humor, to see what you produce!

  12. hksounds Avatar

    I love it. It’s a wonderful idea. It might take a wee bit of time, though, to get up the gumption to face oneself or myself and take that step but I like what you did and thank you for sharing. Not everything here resonates with me but this does.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, hksounds.

  13. cathytea Avatar

    Yes! I’d love to be included in an online class ! (Oops. I see I misread your question . .. it’s WHAT would you like to see included , not would you want to be included . .. well , what I’d like to see included would be me ! And all your other blogees and our ideas and questions and enthusiasms. And tea and coffee and a forum where we could talk with you and each other in response to readings and your guiding prompts. Lots of exploration . Unbounded acceptance. Room to risk. Safety to be what we might think is not-right. Lots of unbounded love . And tons of encouragement . Freedom to disagree .

    1. cathytea Avatar

      Oops again . Posted before I was done ! Here’s the dangling end parenthesis : )

      Also I love your journal entry! What an explosion of growth, freedom , and self-expression and love from you in six very short years !

      I’ve been using the stories on my blog as my self-discovery venue. It’s been liberating .

    2. medleymisty Avatar

      As per usual, I agree with my awesome friend person here. 🙂

    3. Allison Avatar

      I love these ideas!

    4. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for your feedback about a class, cathytea. It’s getting me thinking and planning!

      1. Every Crayon in the Box Avatar
        Every Crayon in the Box

        Paula, I am in virtual / FB groups who hold space for like minded women all over the world. They have spiritual leanings and women in the groups have become more empowered and hold FB lives to show up, not just the leaders or admins of the group. It has been an incredible experience over the past 1 1/2 years and have met many women in person. The FB format may be perfect for you. Please consider it! We’d love to hear more from you.

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Thank you. I’ve thought of a FB group and have participated in some but they look like a huge job to administer just to monitor comments. I’m wondering if an occasional class/gathering via a platform like Zoom might be fun.

          1. EwaB Avatar

            ever heard of Stage it. normally it is for music but sure it can also be a class. you in front of a camera and the viewers can write in the chat next to it.

            1. Paula Prober Avatar
              Paula Prober

              Thank you, EwaB. I’ll look into it.

  14. Allison Avatar

    I have not been keeping a journal because I felt like what I wrote sounded stupid or crazy. Your journaling technique seems so much better. It will allow me another creative outlet. And, who knows? One of my offspring may benefit from reading it one day I’m gonna do it!

    I’ve ordered your book.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Journals are great because you can sound as stupid or crazy as you like! It’s all about the process not the product. Glad you’re going to do it, Allison. And thanks for buying my book. 🙂

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