In my post – Journaling-Part 1, I wrote:
… people report that they feel better, do better work, have more fulfilling friendships, etc after journaling. Specifically, people say that journaling is helpful in the following ways:b. [Journaling] is an outlet so that people do not “bottle” their emotions
How Journaling Works to Prevent the “Bottling” of Emotions
Last week I spoke about journaling as an act of clearing one’s head. In summary, the act of writing allows you to get your thoughts out of your head so that you can think more clearly about what was just circling in your head or to clear space to think about something else entirely.
The prevention of bottling emotions is similar to clearing one’s head, but people talk about it as a different thing either because they’re experiencing a bunch of emotions at one time or because they tend to experience the same set of emotions in a particular situation and, either way, there is no appropriate outlet to express those emotions.
Here’s how bottling works: When we experience a bunch of emotions at once or an emotionally charged situation occurs over and over again, we might choose to use our bodies and minds like a bottle and we stuff as many of those emotions into that bottle as we can. When the bottle is as full as can get it, we then cap that bottle. It is at this point that we all think we are safe. We’ve “put a lid” on the emotions and now we’re free to continue living in an “emotionally stress-free way”. However, what happens when we experience additional emotions or we’re back in that situation is that we don’t have any additional place to put those new emotions and the “old emotions” in the bottle start to stir and shake and move in the bottle. Essentially, we’re shaking the soda bottle. When enough pressure builds up in the bottle – the bottle explodes or we open in intentionally in an attempt to find a place to continue to store these emotions. What comes out in that explosion or how it comes out is not pretty. It is rarely kind, it is rarely intentional, and it is often uncontrollable.
Journaling prevents bottling because it provides an appropriate outlet to express emotions. When you journal, you do not have to worry about judgement or hurt. You can say whatever you want to whomever you want. The best thing – whomever you are focusing your anger and frustration will never know.
Journaling pours the emotions out of the bottle and onto the page. If one is journaling to prevent bottling – I often suggest a creative outlet. Painting or creating a collage or drawing or writing a story are all great options.
When the bottle is empty, you’ll have the internal space available to learn how to express your emotions appropriately in the situations where you tend to feel the need to bottle your emotions. You may still use the bottle in these situations, but the journaling will allow you to empty the bottle before it explodes.