The Power of Writing to Heal and Improve
Words have power. Writers, intellectuals and influencers have known about the power of ideas for centuries. The written word has enabled people to record events, pass down traditions and has aided us in developing complex reasoning. Writing, in fact, helps us to discover what we already know; it’s the process of streamlining our own ideas, a transformation that starts in our minds and is channeled through pen to paper. Transformation is the key word here, because words have the ability to change our way of thinking and empower us.
This is exactly what Helen Keller found when she discovered the power of words, before which she was feral. “For nearly six years I had no concepts whatever of nature or mind or death or God. I literally thought with my body. Without a single exception, my memories of that time are tactual… I know I was impelled like an animal to seek food and warmth… There is not one spark of emotion and rational thought in these distinct yet corporal memories. I was like an unconscious clod of earth. Then, suddenly, I knew not how or where or when, my brain felt the impact of another mind, and I awoke to language, to the knowledge of love, to the usual concepts of nature, of good and evil! I was actually lifted from nothingness to human life.”
The Power of Writing to Heal and Improve
Why write in the first place?
Writing, or more accurately expressive writing, has been used as a form of therapy for decades. It uses the written word to process and refine various emotions. This can manifest itself in a few different forms. For example, James W. Pennebaker’s writing therapy instructed participants to write about a past trauma and their feelings and thoughts that surrounded it. This enabled people to better deal with the trauma they were writing about. And, while writing about the actual event was painful, they found significant resolve, closure and meaning in the experience after having written about it consistently.
Blogging as a means of therapy and self-improvement
Writing, therefore, has a direct link to one’s happiness and the power to improve your emotional as well as spiritual well-being. Traditionally this has taken the form of journaling and writing by hand, but since the explosion of computers and the internet, blogging has become one of the popular forms of expression and release. The ease with which one can create a successful blog has no doubt contributed to this and led many people to start their own blogs. And while some might scoff at the idea that blogging can have the same benefits that traditional journals or other forms of writing have, there’s hard evidence that says otherwise.
Alice Flaherty, a neuroscientist at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, studies conditions such as hypergraphia – a seemingly uncontrollable urge to write constantly – and writer’s block, believes that blogging might trigger a release of dopamine in the brain, similar to stimulants and rewards generated by activities like running, listening to music and playing video games. Nancy Morgan, an author of the Oncologist study advocates that blogging offers similar benefits to expressive writing, and has found evidence of this in people coping with cancer and other serious medical conditions. Having a platform to express yourself, as well as the added ability to connect with other individuals experiencing similar circumstances, is not only therapeutic but allows for an added sense of community and empathy.
Writing to reduce stress
Writing is also a great way to destress. Again, this can take the form of a journal or a blog, but there are a number of reasons why writing can help reduce stress. One of the main problems with thoughts and worries are that they are generally unformed and seem much larger when they’re in our minds. Writing them down helps to shrink them to a point where they are life-sized and manageable. It facilitates problem-solving by allowing you to state very clearly what your problems are, and once seen on paper allows you to confront it in a much more tangible way.
Writing to empower
And, of course, writing can empower you. Whether it’s reducing stress, changing your state of happiness or increasing your knowledge and self-awareness, writing ultimately changes your mind, and that in turn changes your life. If nothing else, writing will remind you that it’s you, and no one else, who is author of your story, the master of your fate and the captain of your soul.