Start a Best Possible Self Diary



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By Risa



As a bona fide grown-up, you might think that ending a relationship should be easier than it was in your pre-adult years. It isn’t. In fact, not only do you have to deal with the feelings of hurt, anger, sadness or guilt, you are expected to go to work, wash the dishes, and not have emotional break-downs over lunch. Your friends and family can provide an outlet for some of the frustration or grief that you may be feeling, but if you’re like me, you don’t want to overstay your welcome at the pity party.

Enter the rant diary.

In my post-college years, I started a rant diary to help me unload some of my more negative thoughts in order to save my friends’ ears from the same treatment. Every rant that would’ve poisoned a conversation with a co-worker, family member or friend went into my diary. This helped me deal with daily frustrations and emotional break-ups so I wouldn’t dwell on them or let them distract me from the things I wanted or needed to do.

But the rant diary was only a bandage for my problems. It didn’t stop me from feeling bad or upset; it didn’t help me move on faster; and it didn’t help me focus on the positive things in my life.

Nevertheless, there’s a lot of academic research, general discourse, and internet babble that confirm the measurable health benefits of writing about traumatic events. One of the many explanations for this healing power of the pen is that emotional expression leads to catharsis and insight. Recent studies have demonstrated that writing about non-traumatic events or positive experiences can produce the same physical health benefits as well as increase your subjective well-being.

So why not use your journaling skills to write life-affirming rather than life-draining entries?

Enter the BPS diary.

BPS stands for Best Possible Self. For instance, you can use your BPS diary to write about your personal goals, which is as healthful as writing about your unresolved feelings for your ex but also forces you to move forward and focus on improving your life. Not to mention, it’s significantly less upsetting than rehashing the trauma of your break-up.

Yes, it helps to work through your negative experiences and feelings, but thinking about the future and your success is more uplifting. If you are going through a bad break-up, writing is a great coping mechanism and can also be a way for you to get out of the slump and start working on your best possible self.

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Risa

Risa is a writer and amateur trumpeter. She wrote a satirical play about the repercussions of functional illiteracy on farm life called "Hay Fever" in sixth grade, which, incidentally, is also the last time she picked up a trumpet. This past summer, she and her dog Ein took a cross country road trip from Los Angeles to Philadelphia; they both concluded she needs a bigger car and better music.