Barbara: I was just directed to this really interesting study done by Ohio State University professor, Richard Petty. Maybe you saw a blurb about it too?
Basically, he and his team of researchers discovered that when people write down their thoughts—in this case intrusive, negative ones—and then threw the paper away, it made a HUGE difference to their attitude. But it only worked if the participants actually did the physical work of recording the thought and throwing it away.
We read so much stuff about “visualizing” that it was interesting to discover that people who just imagined writing down their problem and throwing it away had no change in attitude. But those who performed the action were actually able to wipe the slate clean (maybe not forever, but certainly for the time-being).
On the positive side: writing your constructive thoughts down and tucking them away someplace (a pocket/a drawer) did help to “safeguard” them. These thoughts were more likely to manifest in a positive outcome (either you feel better about a thing, or you feel empowered to do something)—I guess much like if you write down a resolution and keep that paper somewhere, it will stick more than if you make the resolution and think about sticking to it.
Petty is quoted as saying this: “At some level, it can sound silly. But we found that it really works -- by physically throwing away or protecting your thoughts, you influence how you end up using those thoughts. Merely imagining engaging in these actions has no effect.”
Please read the article for more info and to make your own assessments, but what I find fascinating is how much this resonates vis à vis our current trend here on the blog to write down our Five Crazy Things, or to decide in writing in the comments section or on the blog itself how we feel about a variety of things, what bothers us, what we love, what we hope for, what things we want to change. We do commit it to paper in a way (and yes, interestingly, the researchers found that “writing it down” did count on computers—and trashing something, or safeguarding it, did work if you threw your comments into the virtual trash, or filed them away in a special file)
So thanks, Richard Petty, for the unwitting pat on the back for all of us writers-down-of-problems. Let’s encourage each other to keep writing them down—but also to throw away the crap and protect the loveliness.
Deb: I love this, Barbara, and am going to employ it more and more. I started a few years ago when I felt hard done by, betrayed, or hurt to type a full-out exploding spewing diatribe that I could save ... read ... save ... and delete. That has worked so well for me. Although they do say that the written word resonates so much more with the soul than the typed word. But it sure worked for me. Less and less I need it though. That’s a good thing.