My Handwriting and Me

I decided to change how my handwriting looked when I was around fifteen years old. I remember the moment vividly. One of my friends at school knew a guy who was into handwriting analysis and so she’d had her handwriting done for a laugh. I listened to the interpretation of her idiosyncratic scrawl during a morning break with great interest: a squiggle here meant this and a flourish of a certain length meant that.

My natural writing was quite long and flowing. I felt it was old fashioned and not à la mode; I preferred what I was hearing about what ‘boxy and bulbous’ meant, compared to the psychological profile that my natural scratching suggested.

The whole encounter got me thinking about what my handwriting said about me – and more importantly, whether I liked what a so-called expert, who had never met me, might say about me from looking at it. I therefore set about – quite determinedly – to create a new look for myself through my handwriting.

I practised for hours, perfecting something that I thought presented me in a more compelling fashion. I even asked my father which versions he thought more professional, thinking ahead to job applications and covering letters, in those days always written by hand, so people could assess you from your handwriting, as well as your content… sad, but true.What I came up with fitted the bill, looked good, on-trend, sophisticated, neat and in synch with the zeitgeist. So I just switched. Overnight. A conscious choice, requiring me to shift my hand position, quickly bringing with it a permanent callous I wore on my finger for years.

My natural writing had an angle to the right and it reflected the natural angle my hand lay in as it moved across the page. To make the shift was only a tiny degree or two away, but trying it now I can feel that my hand has to tense up to accommodate the position, my wrist locks and there’s a knock-on effect in my lower arm and right shoulder, such that my torso twists ever so slightly.

I felt nothing of this at fifteen years and continued writing this way for three decades, scribbling through university, through jobs, through meetings, courses and workshops – all in this adopted style. People liked my handwriting: it attracted praise and admiration. So I’d tell myself it had been a good decision. When computers came in and the amount of handwritten work declined considerably, the callous on my finger disappeared. Funny, that.

Soreness, though, became a regular feature. A niggle, but a feature. Writing for lengthy periods or at speed really put a strain on my arm and shoulder, but I totally disregarded it. That ever so slight angle change in my hand to accommodate the upright writing meant I was doing something that inherently altered my body’s natural flow and created related pressure in the front of my shoulder.

I developed a point of ongoing, intermittent soreness there, bad enough to be the subject of a couple of x-rays and specialist consultations over the years. But I never made the connection until now that perhaps the pain could have been introduced, enhanced or exacerbated by the continued daily ‘misuse’ of my natural bio-mechanical flow when writing.

I can’t possibly be sure, but what I do know is that whenever I would be taking notes in a fast-transcribe situation, the pain would come. Persistent, not too painful, so I would do a quick stretch and carry on. I would override it, in other words. It’s sad to think now that a momentary choice from a lack of confidence and appreciation of my own true essence as a teenager might have been the set-up for this future shoulder affliction.

Often when writing in this ‘rapid-transcribe mode’ and overriding the pain in an endeavour to capture every spoken morsel down on the page, my old natural sloping writing would kick back in at the point when the adopted form couldn’t keep up. An unconscious, automatic thing, but a default back to my original nonetheless, bringing more ease and flow, entirely legible afterwards, not looking like I’d just run the written marathon it had in fact been. I used to joke with myself that I had a split personality because it looked as if two entirely different people had been taking my notes.

The mere fact that I continued to use the adopted style, regardless of its limitations and disadvantages, was a reflection of just how much more important I held the outside assessment of my handwriting – and how people might judge me from it – and how I didn’t accept the natural, graceful flow that was my own exquisite representation of my true self.

I happened to be at a series of events over several days, scribbling away, and I clocked myself switching writing modes as usual whenever the pace picked up. But I also noticed a calmness come over my whole body. I felt totally aligned – ears and hand working in perfect harmony. It flowed, I caught what I wanted, it was legible, and at the end my hand, arm and shoulder did not feel abused or in any pain. Fascinated, I decided to continue using my natural, ‘original’ handwriting for the remaining days’ events. I found it easier on my arm and kinder to my body. My calmness continued, the flow remained and it began to dawn on me that I had missed a great trick here over the years.

I’ve now reverted back full time to my natural way of writing, out of choice and out of respect for my body. I’ve also accepted it as the true reflection of my personality and essence and can now appreciate the flourish and flair it brings to the page and the softness and grace it carries. I marvel that it’s always been there for me, a dormant part of myself that I denied, just waiting in the wings in case I ever wanted to pick it back up. It feels good and true when I am writing now. Gliding and not tense, not holding myself to be in a certain way. And my shoulder is pretty quiet too.

Handwriting is one of the ways we naturally express our unique essence and I can now appreciate it was my lack of self-acceptance and self-confidence at fifteen that led me to change my handwriting, to negate and devalue what was so individual to me, the true essence of me. I denied my true expression all those years.

I overrode the pain it brought to the part of my body that bore the brunt of an unnatural way, adopting instead an external stereotype that I hoped would do it all for me, when in fact ‘it’ was there all the time. All because of not feeling good enough, not accepting my own true amazingness and the unique way in which I express.

I now know that appreciating me for who I really am means I am supporting the natural flow of my body, not just in the way I write, but in all forms of expression. And any decisions I make to override my natural flow and my natural essence might just have a long-term impact on my body and its wellbeing. That brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, ‘Go with the flow’ for me these days.

By Cathy Hackett

Further Reading:
Your Body Tells The Truth
I Found Observing My Body Is A Great Support

923 thoughts on “My Handwriting and Me

  1. I have noticed after an Esoteric Yoga session how my handwriting flows differently, in fact the way I approach everything from this inner stillness has a beautiful quality to it.

  2. Cathy you bring up a great point here, that we feel we need to write in a certain way to be more accepted in life, and go to great lengths to try and achieve it, when in truth all we are doing is trying to be something we are not, when we honour ourselves and write in our natural way it has its own rhythm and when we try to change it we are going against the natural flow of our body, so no surprise you ended up with a callous on your finger, and your body was already giving you a clue then.

  3. Our body keeps showing us what is natural to us in one way or the other and this can make us aware of what we have not surrenderd to, in your case, and I use your words, ‘how I didn’t accept the natural, graceful flow that was my own exquisite representation of my true self.’ so beautifully expressed Cathy.

  4. If we change things in our life, be it hand writing or how we walk because we have seen someone do it differently, or have been told to, or someone has said something hurtful we are not changing things from our body. Your blog Cathy shows the untold harm that can be caused if we don’t stop to feel what is true before we make changes.

  5. I can see how this story about your handwriting can be applied to all forms of our expression in life from how we speak to how we move our bodies – do we curtail and modify our expression to what the world wants or do we hold true to our own natural expression.

  6. Love the fact that underneath the imposed way you thought you had to be was the gorgeousness of you and your writing, untouched and still ready to bust out.

  7. Although nothing can beat what flows naturally out from the body, we may try to force ourselves becoming an image of ourselves like in many areas of our lives. This is an effort to try to become someone else that reflects lack of self-worth we are not willing to face.

  8. This really makes me wonder what decisions I have made to put my body in a state of tension so frequently. Like, what am I not accepting about me so that I have to put my body in a position or maneuvering that would cause discomfort? And what I realise is how I have accepted these little niggles here and there as normal.

  9. You have given me much to consider here Cathy about my handwriting, at times it is hard to understand what I have written as it is not very neat, I am inspired to look more deeply into this as there can be a drive in the way I write that gets in the way of the natural flow.

  10. To straighten up your writing you compromised the alignment of your body. It just goes to show how these simple choices that make sense at the time can be so dishonoring in the long term.

  11. I had a recent similar experience about clothes. I was supported recently to look at my clothes and style and it was revealed how much I dress for others, for recognition, to be seen a certain way, etc… and how rarely I actually dress to what is truly me – my own unique natural expression. How many ways do we squish, force, re-arrange our selves to fit a picture, or fit into the world, to be seen a certain way? My guess is in quite a few ways…

  12. Love the fact that it is just a choice… a choice to honour your essence or not. And one that has been with you always even through the decades where you were unaware of what your handwriting was truly doing to you. Our essence is always there and so is the choice to always connect and live it.

  13. I love how our bodies reflect the truth of what is going on. When we appreciate who we naturally are, no longer are we governed by what the world wants us to be.

  14. It is interesting how we try to convince and conform ourselves from our head that we need to aspire to be a certain way yet our body communicates very clearly when we are pushing ourselves against our natural flow and expression.

  15. From connecting with children and teenagers I have found that this feeling is huge in our society, ‘All because of not feeling good enough, not accepting my own true amazingness and the unique way in which I express.’

  16. Wow. This is so very telling of how much we let ourselves be boxed in and conform to something we are not as opposed to being raised and nurtured in the acceptance of who we truly are. I tend to rush my hand-writing having been told in the past at a workplace that I need to speed up! Bam – the notion that I wasn’t good enough and that I better get things happening quicker. That rush is still probably in my body, and it’s in these details of life, such as writing and typing that we get to see all of our behaviours play out and the detrimental impact they have on our physical state. I’m going to look at my relationship with my handwriting all over again me feels.

  17. I wonder what other ways this lack of confidence and appreciation plays out in teenagers… appreciation of ourselves from day one is so important.

  18. The world is constantly communicating in many different ways that we are not doing things the right way, or that we can’t do it that way, or that no-one else does it this way…basically saying we are not worth appreciating and that there is something wrong with you if you do it your way. When we take this personally we then go about trying to fit in to a way that didn’t make sense to begin with and then have to live with the inevitable consequences of going against what we felt was true.

  19. I can so relate to this Cathy, it wasn’t until I left school that I discovered I had a beautiful flow to my hand writing. I spent many years trying to put my writing in a neat approved box. Never enjoying writing and forever critiquing myself. As with many things I have done in my life, I stepped outside of myself instead of accepting and honouring the beauty I already am.

  20. I keep a journal and I was looking back over some entries this morning. I could tell what kind of mood I was in with each one; when I was in a hurry, when I was not very attentive, when I was at ease with myself. Our handwriting definitely reveals a lot about us. No wonder they use handwriting experts in organisations like the police force.

  21. I changed my handwriting and my walk when I was in high school to fit in with what I thought was cool. But, it is not as innocent as that… by changing my movements I limited the ability to express myself and that causes damage, both physically and energetically.

  22. You have exposed here Cathy, just how lacking we are societally, in parenting our children and indeed each other – that they can know with certainty that who they are is ‘it’, and no outer measures need to be lived up to, nor given away to, whatsoever.

  23. How insidiously thoughts of doubt and lack of worth can enter us – perhaps seemingly ‘small’ at the time, but once given hold and indeed confirmation through our behaviours, we are entrapped and essentially slave to that which would have us ever-feeling we need to ‘measure up’ to it. That is, until we recognise that we were always ‘enough’ in the first place.

  24. I can remember having to copy the shapes of letters etc and having to get to a certain ‘acceptable’ standard before being allowed to use a pen. No wonder so many of us have issues with how our writing looks as we were not given the freedom to truly express in this way from our bodies. This does not go away even though for many of us we no longer write very much. Interesting to explore this and feel the impact that it has had on my body and the way I perceive myself.

  25. Thank you Cathy for sharing your evolving relationship with your body and your handwriting. For me the more I appreciate different aspects of myself the more my acceptance of who I am and what I bring grows and the judgemental voice in my head that for as long as I can remember has judged my handwriting as not good enough is quieted bringing a natural ease and flow to my body.

  26. We all have our own unique way of expressing ourselves and when we allow this to flow unhindered, there is an ease and a harmonious flow both within and around us.

  27. Such a great awareness Cathy. I’ve noticed my handwriting is different on different days. I’m aware that the way the writing comes out is a reflection of the depth of my connection to myself, like how settled and still I am in my body – or rushed and under a little pressure. However from reading this blog what I’m now aware of is checking in with my posture, feeling how I am sitting, any tension already present etc. Some simple movements and adjustments here would support me to connect more deeply with my stillness as beautifully presented and supported by Esoteric Yoga. To expand on this Esoteric Connective Tissue Therapy supports a deepening awareness of our posture and how we can adjust and release tension with simple movements and awareness. Both Modalities offer such a great opportunity to bring more awareness to the quality of my movements.

  28. When we embrace our natural way of expressing it is very empowering and its natural flow and spaciousness is deeply felt as it expands throughout the whole of our body.

  29. It’s beautiful to observe how your honesty and will to come back to your essence, have transformed what was harming to you. It’s never too late to rectificate what we know is not loving for us.

  30. Your experience Cathy clearly reveals the huge impact that every choice we do has in our lives. No matter how small or unseen that it is, it always have an effect in our body and life.

  31. It so amazing how a simple change can have such an impact on our bodies and how if we’re really invested in the outcome we can ignore the impact, often trying to fix that impact rather than tracking it back to where it came from originally. And as I write this, I’m considering what things might I have changed because I thought they looked better or were judged better, and how has this affected my body? A great blog with much food for thought.

  32. Handwriting in the context of conforming to what we think is expected of us is a worthy topic to explore and your story sheds much light on it. It demonstrated that a seemingly small change can have a huge impact, physically and psychologically.

  33. I wonder how many of us have negated what the body was communicating to us so we could fit into a different picture we held about ourselves, I know when I did ballet as a child I would squeeze my foot into a Pointed shoes and endure quite a bit of pain because I wanted to be a ballerina and do Pointe work. Luckily my pain threshold was quite low so I gave up on that one pretty fast but I can relate to how when we don’t live in the appreciation and acceptance of ourselves we often search for something outside of us to complete us in someway or change the way we are doing something even if it means overriding what the body is feeling. What a beautiful awareness to come to Cathy and the steps you took to heal this so you can express more of you and your amazingness.

  34. If one deeply ponders on what is shared here, we will have to apply what Cathy is sharing about her choice to change her hand writing, to our selves as it is but one way that we “deform” our bodies to fit an idea we may have. Personally, hand writing is one of my adjustments, along with how I stand, walk, sit, talk, converse and many more, my personal list is quite extensive, so how much pressure has this placed on my body?

  35. Our hand writing is an outer reflection of our inner state. If we are feeling racy our hand writing will be challenging to read, on the other hand if we are feeling harmonious our writing will come from this quality and will be easy and pleasing to read.

  36. This is a great example of by trying to fit in with others, accomplish a certain look or pleasing others we actually forsake our own natural and unique expression. When we begin to bring more value to who we are and what our true qualities are, we will see no need in changing how we express for anyone or any outside influence.

  37. I remember just copying the way my father wrote and growing up I wanted to write like him. I’ve never really looked at my handwriting deeply. I know that in one job I wrote a lot and it got to the point where I found it very difficult to even read what I had written. Often I would be thinking faster then I was writing and when I read back over it parts were missing or mixed up. It was like my thoughts were trying to push me to write faster and in that rush you would jump ahead. I type more than I write now, but I have just started physically writing again and my style is all over the place and often hard to read. It’s possibly time to slow down my hand as the article is saying and look back at how I wrote and where my style came from. From what I can see now my style was made from what I saw and wanted rather then from a true choice from me.

  38. Amazing sharing Cathy that for me highlights how our bodies are always reflecting the truth of our choices to the point that when we forgo walking in appreciation of who we are, in connection to our essence and expressing freely what we feel, we are living a deformed version of who we are, literally. Our greatest freedom is found in living in connection to our essence within; being our true selves.

  39. Many of us think what others have is better than what we have got, and try and be someone/something else, anything but ourselves. It’s such a tragedy when I come to think of this possibility that others actually might be thinking what I have got is good enough for them, and this insatiable desire of ours not to claim who we are. We are just as amazing as each other.

  40. It is extraordinary to learn that it is possible to detrimentally effect the body and its wellbeing through overriding our natural flow like you did here. I wonder how many of us are suffering unnecessarily from a choice to go against our essence… and that could be reversed through embracing our true expression?

  41. I love how our body communicates to bring us back to ourselves when we disconnect from our body’s natural flow and rhythm. The more we accept and appreciate ourselves the more we allow our natural expression to come out.

  42. I consider my handwriting to be a visible representation of my connection with myself. When my connection to my body is steady my writing is flowing and easy to read, whereas if I have lost my connection to my body and my mind is racy, my writing is messy and unreadable.

  43. It is amazing how often we can incorrectly change something that comes natural to us according to the opinions of an expert instead of honouring the wise and solid expert within ourselves.

  44. Isn’t it incredible how we can override decades of daily messages from our bodies because of some ideal we have given more importance to than caring for our physical body? This is because most of us are living in our heads and our mind couldn’t care less about our body, seeing it as a dispensable resource.

  45. It is so interesting reading this as I have 2 ways to write and they are markedly different. One is my natural way but I have no idea when I learnt it! The other takes me straight back to my childhood. I feel steady and my writing is clear and legible…quite a difference from my handwriting normally. It is nowhere near illegible but it is more rushed and at times lazy – hence illegible to others. I wonder if there is anything in those words that could give me an indication of how I express in other ways too? I don’t feel the answer for me is to go to my childhood writing but I am sensing there is something in its steadiness that I would do well to re-connect with!

  46. Like many I also experimented with ‘styles’ as a teen however always coming back to what is inherently my own, particularly when it comes to writing notes quickly. That always reveals to me where I am at with myself. Connected and flowing or not. I gave a teenager a card for his birthday recently and he asked me to read it to him. He couldn’t read the writing as he was not used to connected up words! I am getting old.

  47. When we write in our natural flow it has an ease and a fluidity that is expressed from within, it is when we go against our natural flow that we start to compromise our movement and it is no longer true, and as a result our body has to compensate and that is why our hand or shoulder hurts, because the body is trying to tell us we need to revert back to our natural flow.

  48. My handwriting seems to change every time I put pen to paper, I have always found this interesting. I have not so much thought about it since computers have been so dominating, as I rarely put pen to paper now. I still can’t escape that everything in life is there to show us something or reveal something to us. My changing writing exposes that fact that I do not want to know my own power yet, I would prefer to jump around taking on other people’s energy than feel the full consistency and strength of who I am. I have never really said that out loud or really even thought it, it just seemed to flow out after reading your beautiful little article, so thank you.

  49. I have found my handwriting to be a great reflection of whether I am connected and present with my body in its natural flow and rhythm or if it is scratchy and uneven looking when I have switched on to auto pilot and disconnected, pushing my body at an unnatural pace or because I am halfheartedly writing. When I read my writing back later I can feel exactly where I was at, at that time and in observing this realising the need to deepen my awareness and connection to myself in every moment.

  50. There is something truly glorious about being connected to oneself and to heaven, pen in hand, and my whole body acting as a scribe for love.

  51. Gosh, I wonder how many of have done the same as Cathy in deciding to change our handwriting? I know I did experiment with it but I reverted back to the uncaring scrawl that I used before when I discovered I needed to write faster. The faster scrawl isn’t my true hand though because there is always a tension there and this tension disappears when I write with love and I feel spacious when I opt for this expression. In comparison the scrawl has an uncomfortable feeling of rush and lovelessness associated with it.

  52. How often have we and do we make changes in our daily lives to accommodate a belief that instead of going with the flow actively goes against it?

  53. Your blog and all these comment has made me remember a friend’s story about handwriting. He was naturally left handed as a child, but when growing up it was considered wrong, so at school, any time he wrote with his left hand he would get a smack with a ruler. Eventually he trained himself to write with his right hand. I remember being shocked and saddened when I first heard this. We go against what feels natural to us to fit into societies idea of what normal is.

  54. I remember too that moment in my life when I started writing that I was considering how my handwriting should look. I remember wanting it to be unique, beautiful and spunky at the same time. Looking back it is interesting how we from such a young age can make it all about our appearance to even the point of handwriting. This indicates where the world is at with assessing people by their outer and what they put out instead of seeing the essence of that person first – that would change everything from job applications to writing notes.

  55. I know exactly where I’m at by my handwriting – whether it’s scrawly, messy, or rushed – clear indications that I am not present and not expressing truly – or whether it’s more focused and every letter has a purpose and clarity – that’s a great indicator I’m present and everything is going good 🙂

  56. Our handwriting is indeed very revealing as to how we live. I am now wondering what my true handwriting style for me is. As I also adapted many different styles from mimicking perfectly how I saw my peers writing. Eventually I stayed with one style of one particular friend as I liked all of her style and taste and how she lived even down to how her family home felt to me. I have mostly stayed with that style although depending on how I feel (or perhaps how I have been living) my writing can also vary greatly. I will be more closely observing this.

  57. I remember watching a student write on a document they were handing in when I was once training. They wrote so fast that I had to stop them and bring their attention to how fast they were writing. This opened a whole discussion about rushing. In his handwriting I got to feel how he was living and the state of his nervous system because of it.

  58. It was mentioned to me a number of years ago that when I was a child it looked like I would be left handed. In those days this was seen as a bit of an obstacle for people, so it was decided that I would be right handed. Every time I picked up a pencil in my left it was moved to my right. I went through school and learnt to write with my right hand but my left hand was never forgotten. I can in fact write well with both. I also used to play tennis with both hands (therefore never having a backhand!). It is interesting that I use my left hand for so many more things than my right. I have often wondered how life would be different for me if I had of been allowed to go with what felt true for me, but now at 40 I accept that I am right handed with a very active left hand! Funny though, my youngest daughter looks like she may be left handed and I had the thought of supporting her to be right handed, but after reading your blog and feeling how my body felt with that decision we will just see what she chooses. After all it is her body, not mine.

  59. As a child I was encouraged to write tidy and in primary school I would receive awards for my neat handwriting but as I reflect this has changed. I feel there is some need for recognition for how it looks but I am not so hung up about it like I used to be. I love the awareness Cathy has with her body and I am inspired to feel more into my body when I write. Thank you Cathy for sharing such a beautiful expressed article.

  60. You mention how you made a very conscious choice to change something about yourself to be seen in a different manner. I too made clear simple decisions to change my way of being to fit into an idea of what I wanted life to look like or be. What really fascinates me is we convince ourselves as adults we are unaware of many of the life changing decisions we make, or how our lives have turned out the way they have, yet we can still clearly remember the ones we made in our youth…. Who are we really fooling?

  61. I recently had an experience where I had to sign some papers in front of someone and they had their hand on the paper as I am writing ready to pull it away and give me the next paper to sign. I felt myself contract and this affected my signature. Then when I felt this I chose to let go in my body, stretched up and signed the next paper much more connected to me. With this, the person removed their hand and waited for me to sign, confirming that our movements and how we hold ourselves, affects everything.

  62. Handwriting is a super example of how different aspects of our body in this case the hand are expressions of our inner self, whether we block it and try to manipulate to be something else or whether we appreciate our unique expression…nothing we do from the body is not connected to the body, we can work in the flow and support of our body or work against it and basically hurt…Awesome sharing Cathy!

  63. Wow Cathy what a great blog – handwriting…you really brought home how writing is an expression of ourselves, and how we treat our handwriting is very connected to how we feel about ourselves…I’ve always loved my handwriting, it was easy to write like i did, and but i never appreciated it….but i also, like you did at times think it was old fashioned and not in vogue….

  64. Cathy I adore the way you have such a connection with your body to the degree that you have become acutely aware of how adjusting your handwriting has impacted your body. How many health problems occur as a result of the unnatural ways that we move?

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