You can’t un-send that text. You can’t un-say those words. You can’t un-punch that wall. Once it’s out there, it’s out there.
Sometimes emotional energy feels like it MUST BE expressed! Rage and resentment. Anxiety, fear, desperation. These feelings can be so intense they make your heart pound. They make your face twitch. This energy wants to be released from your body in a hurry and at full emotional volume. But is this really in your best interest? Will your bloody knuckles really teach that wall a valuable lesson? In the long run, will you ever get more satisfaction from your loved ones by making them feel worse?
Next time you feel the urge to yell at your spouse or curl up in a ball, try some dangerous journaling. What makes it dangerous? You hold nothing back. This isn’t the time to be polite. Really let that journal have it, pouring out your absolute worst thoughts and feelings. Scribble in red ink. Draw rude sketches. Express the “unacceptable.” In time, your journal may become so toxic you need a hazmat suit just to handle it. But that’s okay. It’s your journal, for your eyes only. And better that all those toxins end up spilled across those pages rather than swarming through your own bloodstream or catapulting at your closest companions.
Make communing with your journal a regular habit, and from time to time, take a trip down memory lane. Read your past journal entries. Review your best days, your worst days. You see that things come and go. Even your most intense, heart-wrenching feelings–they rise, they fall. Let them wash in and out of your nervous system and onto the pages of your journal.
24 Hour Rule
You can save yourself a lot of suffering and self-imposed setbacks by practicing the 24 hour rule. Next time you’re feeling something that demands to be expressed, go to your journal first. Take as long as you need to get it all out. Then make a deal with yourself: Agree to sit on these feelings for the time being. In 24 hours return to your journal and review. If you still feel like it’s in your best interest to express these thoughts and feelings to someone you love, then you still have that option. But by initially delaying your emotional outpouring you are giving yourself a chance to re-evaluate with a cooler head. Because how many times in life have you got in your own way by letting your worst impulses hijack your nervous system? You will rarely regret taking a moment to check yourself.