Keeping Secrets is Physical Work
Keeping secrets from others means that we must consciously restrain, hold back, or in some way exert effort to not think, feel or behave in ways that reveals the secret. This is like using willpower all day to overcome a bad habit. This becomes exhausting after awhile and can result in additional stress.
Secrets Can Produce Short-Term Biological Changes and Influence Long Term Health
Over time, the psychological labour involved in keeping secrets serves as a cumulative stressor on the body and this increases the likelihood of illness and other stress related physical and mental problems. 'Actively holding back from talking about important topics is one of the many general stressors that affect the mind and body.'
Secrets Hurt Our Thinking Abilities
We can't think properly when actively holding a secret because we have to organize our thinking and speaking around the secret. 'Major life experiences that are withheld from others are likely to surface in the forms of anxiety, ruminations, disturbing dreams, and other thought disturbances.' The human mind tries to make sense of things and so when we are trying to understand something we might end up obsessing over it in an attempt to have the problem sorted. By obsessing over the secret there are less mental resources to think about other things. This partly explains why there are frequent memory problems and attention problems with people who are under stress.
Disclosure Reduces the Effects of Secrets
The science has shown that 'the act of disclosing trauma reduces the physiological work of secrets.' The additional benefit of this finding is that over time, by continuing to confront and progressively resolve our emotional upheavals, there will be a lowering of our overall stress level.
Disclosure Forces a Rethinking of Events.
Talking or writing about a secret turns the experience into language and it helps us understand and assimilate the event. From talking or writing, those traumatic memories get put into an order with a timeline that has a beginning, middle and end. This type of resorting of the events helps to put it into a much more psychological accepting perspective.
The other chapters in the book go into more detail about to the benefits of writing which includes how writing can help us secure a healthier happier future, getting past obsessions, insomnia, anxiety, depression, clearing the mind and dealing with chronic health problems to name a few. If you can't afford a therapist or would prefer to do your own self healing for emotional pain, you might want to try the low technology available in the form of pen and paper.
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