Writing Down Your Angry Feelings Is Only The First Step to Calming Your Rage

Researchers from Nagoya University in Japan ran two experiments involving a total of 98 participants. They found that the act of writing down feelings of anger – and then, crucially, throwing the paper away or shredding it – caused the anger to subside. This emotional shift didn’t happen when the volunteers held on to the paper.

“We expected that our method would suppress anger to some extent,” says cognitive scientist Nobuyuki Kawai.

“However, we were amazed that anger was eliminated almost entirely.”

The study participants weren’t told the purpose of the research, but were given excessively critical and insulting feedback on an essay they’d been asked to write, irrespective of the actual quality of their submission.

After the volunteers were given the critiques, they were asked to write down their thoughts on how they were feeling and how their emotions had been triggered. ​​All of the participants reported an increase in their subjective anger level.

At that point, the individuals were asked to reread the critique. Some were then instructed to place their notes into a clear slip and leave their critiqued submission on the desk, while others were invited to dispose of it by scrunching the pages up or placing the paper into a shredder.

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