Catharsis is important to being able to walk a chosen path.

It never ceases to amaze me how easily emotional baggage accumulates. No matter how much we think we are purging as we go, we still manage to hold on to outdated materials.

What’s more, often you don’t even realize you are still holding onto things that you are, and they are still effecting current actions.

I don’t know what it is about human nature that we generally cling to the past. For some reason, we are loathe to simply move forward without dragging along with us that which is behind us.

Some past matters cannot just simply be let go of. We need to actually take actions to let them go. Sometimes we don’t recognize this right away, but when we do I think it’s a good idea to act to get rid of them.

What kinds of actions are you talking about? Since we cannot erase memories we do not want or that no longer help us, ala Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, we have to take certain other actions to achieve catharsis. defines Catharsis thus:

The purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music.

Ergo, this can be applied not only to ridding ourselves of past baggage, but also of current emotional issues.

These are some actions we can take to help us to achieve this end:

Writing. Journaling can be really useful in purging our emotional states, and tracking how we feel and what we want to achieve and accomplish. This has been a primary component in Pathwalking for me, which is why I write this weekly. However, another helpful thing you can do is to write a letter you will never deliver.

If there is a person who you feel wronged by, or hurt by, or let down by; or an institution, an organization, or what-have-you – writing out an emotionally charged letter to get matters off your chest can go a long ways towards releasing tensions and finding catharsis. I have done this before, and even in one case shared the letter I wrote not because it was hurtful, but because we needed to clear the air between us. This is especially helpful when the hurt or anger or sadness is particularly rooted deep, and you need to metaphorically dig it out to clear the ground to plant something new and better.

Drawing. I am not much of an artist myself, but I know a lot of people for whom drawing things brings relief and is a particularly cathartic act. It may not even have to do directly with a particular emotional tension, but it is a good general idea to help relieve tension and combat stressful emotions.

Doodling is drawing. I had in almost every high school and college notebook doodles all over the margins. Some were to alleviate boredom, but some were to stave off emotional tensions. I often doodled almost sub-consciously.

Coloring. There is a current trend for adult coloring books. This is a really cathartic idea. As children, most of us loved to color, so it is perfectly logical that as adults we still find relief from pressure in this act. There is something in putting the colors into the lines and watching art unfold that is extremely calming. I am rather amazed, frankly, that we didn’t figure this idea out sooner.

It does not matter what medium you choose, be it crayons or colored pencils or markers. It is a powerful act to create art in any form, be it drawing or just coloring or painting, and the catharsis is worthwhile.

Making music. Are you a singer? Do you play a musical instrument? Either way, taking some time to practice this art, whether you sing in the car or the shower or play a guitar during your lunch break, can provide huge emotional release. There is nothing like singing your heart out to relieve tension, or playing whatever instrument you play to work through and bring out emotions. The energy of this act is very cathartic.

Even if you do not sing or play an instrument, just immersing yourself in music can be a powerful tool. Nothing like blasting an angry rock anthem as you cruise down the highway to envelop yourself in a feeling. Most of the time when I am writing I have music in the background that offers inspiration, and helps to build emotion. Music is particularly powerful for awakening the senses and evoking feelings.

These are just a few suggestions for ways to get control of our emotions. Pathwalking is about taking control of my own destiny, and making my own way in this world as I wish to make it. Having control over how I feel is a large part of this, and that is why finding catharsis is very useful.

I don’t normally use Pathwalking to make any sort of political or social commentary, but this topic in my mind demands it. Catharsis is why we need art and music in our schools. Tests and athletics have their place, but human beings need the arts in our lives. Cutting funding for these threatens to emotionally cripple ourselves in ways I don’t think we’ve begun to consider. Appreciating art is important, but making art is too.

We all have things we hold onto that we need to let go of. Using cathartic things is a great way to do that. We have a lot of options to make this happen, and really this is the very definition of taking inspired action. Who knows where else this type of thing could lead you?

What do you do to find catharsis?


This is the one-hundred ninety ninth entry in my series. These weekly posts are specifically about walking along the path of life, and my personal desire to make a difference in this world along the way. Feel free to re-blog and share.  Thank you for joining me.

The first year of Pathwalking, including some expanded ideas, is available in print and for your Kindle.