The Power of Deep, Personal Writing

Everybody has secrets. Unfortunately, some of those secrets are tied to emotional pain at the deepest levels of consciousness, pain that stays trapped by the unwillingness to look at or talk about what happened. How can you release this difficult strong emotion?

An article in the psychological literature by James Pennebaker* indicates that people who write out their thoughts about deeply emotional experiences from their personal lives tend to feel better and perform more effectively. The mere act of putting down on paper (or keyboard) deep feelings and the stories behind them helps improve emotional health and a sense of well-being.

In the model of the human emotional system, stuck feelings are the ones whose emotional charge has never been allowed to discharge. Such feelings may have gotten bottled up for any number of reasons. What matters is that you find a way to break their grip.

The act of telling the story of your wounded emotional system is not easy and certainly not fun, even if you are telling nobody but yourself. It’s worth the effort. If you think you might have deep emotional pain stuck somewhere in your emotional system, you probably do. Set aside a few quiet hours to write it all down. If you can’t find enough privacy at home, go to a library where nobody will interrupt or bother you.

Deep, personal writing is a powerful way to clear out painful stuck emotion. You don’t have to tell anyone you’re going to do it or, afterward, what you discovered in the process. Just notice what a difference it makes. Plan the time, make the effort and reap the rewards of greater peace of mind.


*“Writing about Emotional Experiences as a Therapeutic Process”, Psychological Science, May, 1997

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