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The Uncensored Unsent Letter

“Anger turns everything from what is best and most righteous to the opposite. It causes whoever has come into its clutches to forget his duty.” Seneca

There are many suggestions on how to manage anger effectively. One of these many suggestions is the focus of this post, the uncensored unsent angry letter.

Letter writing is no longer a prominent means of interpersonal communication. So, how does writing an uncensored unsent letter make sense? Let me explain; yes, we can communicate instantly or in real-time via text, email, social media, or video chat. Indeed, your blood is boiling, and you want to respond immediately to let the person who wronged you know precisely how you feel. However, the uncensored unsent letter does not have a send button. Further, in the heat of the moment, you may not save the instant message; you may send it. Think of the consequences of sending such a message.

Seneca offers an insightful assessment when he states, “Some wise men have said that anger is a brief madness.” Seneca’s statement implies a loss of control in a moment of anger. This loss of control may not be ideal for communicating your feelings to another person. The uncensored unsent letter is not meant to be sent. Instead, it usually contains the language and thoughts you were cautioned against when attending Sunday school.

When your automatic thoughts have you pacing back and forth, your face is contorted with rage, your heart is pounding, you feel disrespected, your self-talk is becoming more hostile, and you are ready to exact revenge. You often need a cooling-off period to respond rationally and assess the anger-provoking situation. This is the ideal time to write an uncensored unsent angry letter.

The benefit of the uncensored unsent letter:

  • You can do a brain dump of the thoughts and feelings associated with the anger.

  • You can unleash your uncensored thoughts and feelings on paper instead of the person.

  • The anger does not escalate into an explosive situation.

  • You can admit you are angry without disclosing it to someone else.

  • It offers a private opportunity to explore your angry thoughts and feelings.

  • Your emotional reactivity is contained on paper.

  • It can serve as a timeout and an opportunity to journal your frustrations, combining two anger management strategies (timeout and journaling).

  • You are less likely to feel remorseful after writing the letter because you did not inappropriately discharge your anger.

  • The letter is harmless to the other person.

  • The unsent letter is free therapy.

  • It is a constructive way to track your destructive angry hot thoughts.

  • Once settled, you can regain your focus to gain a new perspective.

Composing the uncensored unsent letter does not mean that once you are calm, all is forgotten. However, it means you did not address the situation when your anger was likely most destructive.

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