Stevie Martin | Staff Writer | Friday, 20 March 2015

New Study Says Writing About Your Emotions Could Make It Worse (FAO Bloggers)

New Study Says Writing About Your Emotions Could Make It Worse (FAO Bloggers)

The Debrief: Next time you go for a good ole blog-rant, make sure you're doing it right...

A problem shared is a problem halved, so blogging or ranting about it online is surely a problem tenthed (or, if you’re a shit hot blogger, tensofthousandthed), right? Apparently, not always as, according to new research reported by the British Psychological Society, brooding over your problems can make those problems worse if you don’t include a little something called ‘self compassion’. 

Without wishing to go all spiritual on your ass, Swinburne University of Technology in Australia found that ‘self-kindness, a sense of common humanity and mindfulness’ while offloading or describing a painful event can reduce negative emotions and replace them with positive ones – but a pure description of the event, or a bit of a moan, can do the absolute opposite.

In an experiment, half of the undergraduates tested got instructions on how to be self-compassionate in their writing, which included being objective and non-judgmental, considering how others have had similar experiences, and being kind to themselves. The other half didn’t get these instruction, and were encouraged to really focus on their thoughts and emotions around the event, resulting in them feeling a lot more negative than the first group. 

As well as this, they found that people who became distracted after considering a painful experience felt a similar drop in negativity as those who performed the self-compassion exercise – but they were less likely to replace their negative feelings with positive ones.

What can we learn from this? Firstly, that just writing in a flurry of anger might not necessarily be the best way to dispel high emotion, not unless you’re kind to yourself in your writing, and remain as objective as possible. Secondly, that it’s worth trying out other methods of venting – such as playing a really intense videogame, punching the crap out of something at the gym, or watching a film – if writing isn’t working.

As someone who immediately has to write their feelings down whenever that hot bubble of emoshe wells up in their throat, it’s interesting that there may be a right and a wrong way to go about it, and maybe sometimes trying out something different works too. 

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Follow Stevie on Twitter: @5tevieM

Picture: Ada Hamza 

Tags: Blogging