Toolbox – Journaling and Letters Without a Recipient

November 14, 2018 ,
Managing your own emotions and unpacking them in a healthy way is easier said than done. When you are in the grip of emotions, making sense of it all can be quite difficult. And often times we might end up saying things that we later regret. But keeping things to yourself if harmful for your wellbeing. Pouring them like hot water in the head of your partners can be damaging to the relationship. What to do – what to do?

I have always had a hard time just keeping my mouth shut. If I am upset about something, I will quickly give into the impulse of spilling it out. But this has sometimes been problematic, especially in hindsight. I would look back at things that had upset me in the moment and realise that they were really not that big of a deal. They only became a big deal magnified by the uncontrollable emotion of the moment. So I had to find a way to not fight my urge to spill the beans, but also not to hurt the people I loved by blurting out every single doubt that passed my neurons.

At first I started a journal. Like the ones I used to have in school. But I realized that, for me, the idea of keeping an entire journal of negative emotions was just making me sad. I did not want to keep the journal around me and I found it very off-putting. So, instead, what worked for me were letters without a recipient.

The way this worked was very simple: I would start writing an email to the person felt upset with. And I would write and write, for however long I felt I needed to. I would repeat myself a dozen times if I wanted to. I just kept writing until I felt exhausted writing the same thing over and over again. It was basically a unilateral fight I was having in my email account. When I had “said” my piece, I would save the email in drafts and move on with my day. And I would let three days pass. If I felt the emotions surging again, over the same subject, I would open the email and add everything I felt needed adding. Only after three days had passed without looking at that email, would I open it again. And I would read it. Every single time I have felt proud of not having sent it out. But I would not dismiss it entirely either. I looked to see if there are ideas and emotions that should be communicated to my partners.

If I found things that I really thought were a problem worth discussing, I would calmly rephrase them in a less angry manner, in a list. But often times, this system just gave me the opportunity to see myself in distress and analyse my own reactions. I noticed behaviors that were not healthy for me, ways in which I was being aggressive or passive-aggressive in my discourse and it helped me to improve a lot. In most of the emails I found nothing worthwhile to extract as actual complaint. So I was able to move on effortlessly and to start managing my own reactions better.

If you feel that keeping things inside is too much, maybe try this and see how it goes. It could be a useful tool. If you find that writing does not work for you, you could also try recording yourself, either in video or audio. That might be better suited to some. Drawing or keeping an actual diary might also be a solution. For me, not seeing an actual item that contains my anger has been the best.

I hope this helps you on your journey and provides some relief from blowouts. 😀

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