does writing a letter and burning it help

Does Writing a Letter and Burning it Help

Many people struggle with negative thoughts and emotions, especially during difficult times in their lives. One popular method for coping with these feelings is writing a letter and burning it. This practice is often associated with catharsis and symbolic release.

However, it’s important to understand the potential benefits and limitations of this practice. In this article, we’ll explore the question of whether writing a letter and burning it can help, and what science has to say about it.

The history of writing letters and burning them:

The practice of writing letters and burning them has deep historical roots. In ancient times, people would often write letters expressing their deepest thoughts, emotions, or grievances and then burn them as a symbolic act of release or purification.

This ritualistic practice was believed to provide a sense of closure, letting go of negative emotions, and offering a form of catharsis. Over time, it has evolved into a personal and introspective exercise.

The psychology of writing and burning a letter:

Writing and burning a letter can have psychological benefits. The act of putting pen to paper allows individuals to externalize their thoughts and emotions, providing a sense of clarity and self-expression. It serves as a form of therapeutic writing, enabling individuals to process their feelings, gain insights, and find closure.

Burning the letter can symbolize the release of negative emotions or the act of letting go, providing a sense of relief and closure.

Pros and cons of the practice:

Writing and burning a letter can offer several advantages. It allows individuals to express themselves freely, without fear of judgment or confrontation. It can provide a cathartic release of emotions and offer a sense of closure. However, it is essential to recognize the limitations of this practice.

While it can be personally beneficial, it may not address the underlying issues or facilitate communication with others. It is important to consider the intended outcome and whether additional steps, such as direct communication or seeking professional support, are necessary.

Alternatives to writing and burning a letter:

While writing and burning a letter can be a valuable practice, there are alternatives to consider. One alternative is writing a letter without burning it, allowing individuals to reflect on their emotions and thoughts without the symbolic act of release.

Alternatively, individuals can choose to write a letter and share it with a trusted confidant or therapist for support and guidance. Engaging in conversations or seeking mediation can also be effective methods of resolving conflicts or addressing emotional issues.

Tips for getting the most out of the practice:

To make the most of the practice, it is helpful to create a comfortable and private space for writing. Set aside dedicated time to reflect on your emotions and thoughts. Be honest and authentic in your writing, allowing yourself to express freely. Consider the purpose of the letter and what you hope to achieve.

After writing, take a moment to reflect on your words and the emotions they carry. If you choose to burn the letter, do so in a safe and controlled manner, focusing on the symbolic act of release. Finally, be open to the process and embrace any insights or emotions that arise.


While the practice of writing a letter and burning it may offer temporary relief for some individuals, it is important to remember that this is not a substitute for professional help when dealing with serious emotional or mental health issues. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental health challenges, seeking help from a licensed mental health professional is recommended.

Additionally, it’s important to approach the practice of writing and burning a letter with a healthy perspective and not rely solely on it as a coping mechanism. It may be helpful to combine this practice with other self-care strategies and techniques that have been shown to be effective in promoting emotional wellbeing.