The question I posed yesterday is this: Why does writing about negative things make me feel worse, while writing about positive things make me feel better.
Perhaps the best source on all this is James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D., who, for more than two decades, has been a key researcher on the topic of writing to heal. In his book, Writing to Heal: A Guided Journal for Recovering from Trauma and Emotional Upheaval, Pennebaker differentiates between writing about negative things or traumas for a few days--until you understand what happened, and writing about it every day.
While writing about traumatic events so that we can understand them and can move on is beneficial, dwelling on negative experiences isn't. "I’m not convinced that having people write every day is a good idea," Pennebaker says. "I’m not even convinced that people should write about a horrible event for more than a couple of weeks. You risk getting into a sort of navel gazing or cycle of self-pity."
On the other hand, writing to figure something out or problem solve is beneficial. And using positive words and expressing optimism truly does make you feel better.