Purge Emotional Writing

“I’m feeling emotionally oversaturated.”

This morning, I sat on the couch with my laptop, and I drank my coffee. These words jumped off my screen. They resonated.

The words were only part of a sentence, part of a bigger thought from the goop article I was reading, an excerpt from Habib Sadeghi’s book The Clarity Cleanse. Dr. Sadeghi believes in the transformative power of writing to heal from the inside out. He says, “Words have tremendous power, and whether their effects are positive or negative depends on how we choose to use them. I can’t express how powerful a tool free-form writing is to expel negative energy from our minds and hearts. I used it daily during my recovery from cancer. I also return to it whenever I’m feeling emotionally oversaturated.”

I was feeling emotionally oversaturated, and so I read on. Dr. Sadeghi suggests an exercise called PEW 12 (Purge Emotional Writing), writing on paper for twelve minutes about whatever is disturbing my peace. At the end of twelve minutes, he says to take the page(s) to a secure, non-flammable area and burn it. “Fire is transformative and healing,” I read. “Your goal is to neutralize the negative energy, and the fire does that by transforming the chemical composition from paper to ash.”

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The doctor warns that re-reading my page would only re-infect me with negative energy. He says never to direct the negatively charged words toward myself. I know these things intuitively. Sometimes I need reminders.

And so I found a spiral and noted the time and wrote for twelve minutes. I dropped F-bombs along the way. Then I ripped out the page and found a lighter and walked through my front door. I lit the page, watched it burn, dropped it on the concrete driveway, and stomped on it. I swept the ashes into the grass.   

Dr. Sadeghi suggests doing this every day for five days before moving on to the next step. Except I don’t know what the next step is. His book is on my to-read list. I suppose I have four more days to find a copy.

47 thoughts on “Purge Emotional Writing

  1. This is the exact reason why I don’t keep my journals. I shred/recycle them to get all that negative gunk out of the home. Of course, not all of my free-journaling is negative. In fact, I have a lot of happy thoughts, but the bad days are full of anxious words or anger, blech, go away words, go away!


  2. Dr. Sadeghi has re-packaged a well known writing exercise called “Morning Pages”, put forward in a book called “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron. It was wildly popular about twenty years ago, and gave rise to some wonderful websites such as 750 words.


      1. 750words is wonderful – it used to be free, but eventually became a pay site. It asks you to write 750 words that will not be shared anywhere, and it then scores them against emotions in your writing. It’s really interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Just tried to sign up, but I’m unable to log in. I suppose I’ll try again another time. Either that or I’ll write and burn. I think I understand those emotions.


  3. As I began to read I thought yes, writing like journaling is good. But then retracing can reinfect us with those negative thoughts. I never thought about that. I have some rethinking to do about how I go about this.
    Thanks for sharing Crystal.


    1. I know I shouldn’t dwell on the negative thoughts, but I’m not sure I had thought about the connection between writing them and re-reading them until now. I might need to go clean up my blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is very interesting. I’ve heard similar things before, that burning is the cleanse we all need…writing puts it out there, fire takes it away


  5. I must admit that one of my first thoughts was what your neighbors were thinking if they saw you. LOL… But this is really an interesting idea. I could definitely see how this would help. I especially appreciate that he said not to re-read what you wrote. I agree that could reignite bitter feelings. Years ago I used to vent in my journals and it made me feel worse. I no longer do that. But perhaps I was missing some of the steps. I harbored my words and did not allow the bitterness to be burned away. Thank you for sharing this with us.


    1. Funny and ironically, my neighbors across the street were leaving their house when I set fire to my page. I don’t know if they saw me or not. 🤷‍♀️

      I understand writing and feeling worse or even having conversations and feeling worse. I think this is a way of acknowledging the feelings, letting them go, and seeing them transform.

      Thanks for your thoughts. Have a great week, Bridget!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Love this idea. I had a yoga teacher who suggested we write on a scrap of paper the name of energy vampires, burn the scrap of paper, then flush the ashes down the toilet! It was amazingly healing.


    1. Thank you, Mark! I finished #5 today, and I’m finishing the book. The doctor has other good ideas including diet (or a ten day cleanse). Anyway, I’m wrapping my brain around trying more of it. Why not?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing!!… I usually let my heart do the talking, rather than the mind, rarely go wrong.. life is part negative and part positive, part light and part darkness and all becomes part of a process known as “memories”… 🙂
    I can use those memories to avoid repeating something or to relive a moment of happiness… seeing as how they are all one, a part of me, I cannot destroy one without destroying the other… so I put the negative on the back burner and follow the advice of Mr. Bennett; “Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.” (Roy T. Bennett).. of course, it may not work for everyone… 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May your day be touched
    by a bit of Irish luck,
    Brightened by a song
    in your heart,
    And warmed by the smiles
    of people you love.
    (Irish Saying)


  8. This is interesting. I will look up the book. This sort of thing I’ve done on and off for many years, beginning in childhood, particularly after my mother died. I found it was the only sure way to get through most adversity in life as it’s unstructured, free thought and quite unlike going to see a professional to ‘talk’, because even when we do see counsellors, etc, thoughts tend to be structured as we are conscious of how we always present ourselves. With writing or purge writing, it’s you, your notepad/pen or laptop, and off one goes, without fear of scrutiny.


    1. Thanks for relating, Anastasia. My mother died six months ago, and I’ve been surprised with the roller coaster of emotions. I listened to The Clarity Cleanse on Audible, but I might want a copy for reference. I liked it a lot.


      1. I’m truly sorry for your loss. It is certainly a life changing event, the changes lie on a spectrum that isn’t linear. Everything from that change is a day by day or can feel like a day by day step, but it all falls in place in the end.


  9. I’m always telling my students their words have power to make positive change, so why not let that positive change be within us, too? I’ve not thought about physically burning my own words, but I have certainly felt a change within when I confine dark feelings into words on a page!


  10. Interesting discussion! While I haven’t done this, I frequently write something short in length after reading one of my morning devotions. It helps prepare my writing time which soon follows. Of course, having a cup of coffee nearby shouldn’t be overlooked (at least for me).


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