Out of sight, out of mind

Getting rid of physical remnants of painful experiences helps people heal: study

That first love note. A piece of jewelry. A photograph. Whatever physical remnants of a painful experience—a failed relationship, say—are haunting you, gather them up and put them out of sight. A series of four experiments by researchers at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management shows that the act of boxing up items related to unpleasant events helps people get over their negative feelings. This exercise doesn’t just apply to relationship troubles, but any difficulty including work or financial matters. In their study, the researchers say that rather than packing up physical reminders, a person can also write about their problem, and then put that account into an envelope. They also say that this discovery may present an opportunity for the development of products and services that help people “enclose or take away memories” associated with tough times.

Rotman School of Management

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.