A HEALTHY PHYSICAL PROCESS means that we take in food and water from our environment, process it for nutrients, then expel the wastes. In the same way, a healthy emotional process means that we take in our life experiences, process them for nutrients, find what we need to grow and survive, and then expel the garbage. But many of us simply hold onto our emotions, storing them away in our bodies, and we become emotionally constipated, unable to let go of that which isn’t helping us in any way. Eventually, when our system gets too backed up, we get sick. We can no longer function as we should. We become sluggish, unresponsive, depressed.
Keeping the flow of our experiences processed helps to keep us emotionally healthy. Writing regularly is one way of accomplishing this. For example, I once wrote a three-page angry diatribe to my ex-husband telling him everything I hated about him. I really told him off! I was able to say everything I needed and wanted to say, no matter how ugly, cruel, or unfair, because I knew it would stay in my journal. I didn’t have to censor myself in any way. Afterwards, I felt calm, relieved, and able to think about him with a more balanced perspective.
Writing about past events works the same way. The process of exploring emotions associated with events and people in our past can be like cleansing and disinfecting a wound that refuses to heal. Yes, it can be a little painful, but afterwards the wound is clean; the clogged emotional state that kept the wound active has been bathed and soothed and has a better chance of healing properly.
It’s important, whenever you’re writing for emotional healing, to write as honestly as possible. Writing honestly and vulnerably connects you to yourself, like looking in a mirror helps you to understand your own facial expressions, or listening to a recording of your voice helps you understand how your vocal inflections might be heard by others. Writing about difficult or hurtful experiences — describing the events, recreating the conversations, the pain, the emotion, and acknowledging the emotion that still exists in you while you’re writing — can help you to heal. Writing about these events, whether they occurred years ago or this morning, allows you to move through, process, keep what you need to grow, and release unhelpful thoughts and feelings.
Something to write about: Think about something that happened in the past that still brings a surge of emotion when you remember it—anger, joy, excitement, fear, whatever. Write about your feelings and what you would do, if anything, to change that event. If you want to, rewrite the event as if it actually happened differently. Now, how do you feel?