You’ve had a bad breakup. Or a job loss. Or a falling out with your best friend. How do you recover and put the sadness, guilt, regret and overall bad feelings to bed? Especially when negative emotions can so easily haunt you?
We’ve all heard about psychological “closure” — that sense that you’ve put a nagging conflict or loss behind you. It’s a relief when it happens because it means you can move on with your life. And scientists now believe that getting there could be easy as slipping the memory of that regrettable decision or unrequited love into an envelope. Weird, right? But true!
In a series of experiments, scientists from the University of Toronto, the National University of Singapore and the University of Hong Kong asked volunteers to write about something they feel remorseful or unfulfilled about. Then, some people were asked to seal this self disclosure in an envelope and turn it in to researchers, while others were simply asked for the disclosure. When queried later, those who had sealed away their misery felt better than those who hadn’t. So the self-help suggestion of say, putting all the photos, gifts or memorabilia of an ex into a box and sealing it forever is actually quite a helpful one, as it turns out.
In a similar experiment, volunteers were given a tragic news story to read about a baby’s death. Those who got to place the story into an envelope had an easier time forgetting it, and getting closure, than those who didn’t.
Image Credit: Sarabbit via Flickr