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Expressive Writing

 

Techniques Happiness > Expressive Writing

Description | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Spend a few minutes each day writing about your deepest thoughts and feelings, including about negative experiences, from problems at work to issues from your childhood.

Do this as a careful and regular discipline, perhaps when you get up or maybe before you go to bed (try both to see which works best). Write as a diary, in a single book. You can also type things out if this may be easier (but again, try physical writing and typing to see which is more effective for you).

Discussion

Studies have shown that this is a remarkably effective at reducing the impact of past trauma and noticeably increasing happiness.

If the subject is too difficult to express, then write it as a story that happens to someone else. You can even cast it into a fantasy setting such as 'Star Trek'. Think 'what is it like' and so write analogously.

Writing with a pen is a slower process than rapid typing. This can also have a therapeutic effect as you slow down the pleasurable process and enjoy its visceral nature.

A related method is based in art therapy, where the person paints or draws the thing that is troubling them.

What is happening here is that by writing things down you put things outside yourself, distancing yourself in some respect from your experiences and allowing you to cognitively treat the item as being a 'not you' object.

See also

Object Relations Theory

 

Lepore. S.J. and Smyth, J.M. (eds.) The Writing Cure: How Expressive Writing Promotes Health and Emotional Well-Being, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association

 

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