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Talking About Your Feelings Really Does Help

in inhibiting behaviour and processing emotions, but exactly what it contributes has not been known.

"What we're suggesting is when you start thinking in words about your emotions -labelling emotions - that might be part of what the right ventrolateral region is responsible for," Lieberman said.

If a friend or loved one is sad or angry, getting the person to talk or write may have benefits beyond whatever actual insights are gained. These effects are likely to be modest, however, Lieberman said.

Many people are not likely to realize why putting their feelings into words is helpful, Lieberman said.

"If you ask people who are really sad why they are writing in a journal, they are not likely to say it's because they think this is a way to make themselves feel better," Lieberman said.

"People don't do this to intentionally overcome their negative feelings; it just seems to have that effect. Popular psychology says when you're feeling down, just pick yourself up, but the world doesn't work that way. If you know you're trying to pick yourself up, it usually doesn't work - self-deception is difficult. Because labelling your feelings doesn't require you to want to feel better, it doesn't have this problem," he said.


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