Recording one’s emotions on paper in response to an insult or injury, and subsequently discarding or disposing of the written record, may assist in mitigating the negative emotions resulting from the experience. This phenomenon was demonstrated in a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, conducted by researchers at Nagoya University in Japan. Led by Nobuyuki Kawai and Yuta Kanaya, the team examined an anger management technique to gauge its efficacy. Volunteers were asked to pen brief opinions on significant social issues, with the understanding that their compositions would be assessed. Experimenters then assigned universally low scores across various criteria, including intelligence, interest, friendliness, logic, and rationality, accompanied by disparaging comments such as “I am incredulous that an educated individual could harbor such thoughts.”

Following this, the researchers instructed volunteers to jot down their feelings on paper, emphasizing reflection on the triggers of their emotions. Some participants were instructed to retain their written reflections, while others were instructed to dispose of them. Subsequently, the scientists evaluated differences in anger levels both immediately after receiving the insult and following the disposal or retention of the feedback document. As expected, all participants reported heightened levels of anger after receiving offensive remarks. However, those who disposed of the paper reported a significantly improved mood, contrasting with those who retained a physical copy of the feedback, where only a marginal reduction in overall anger was observed.

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