(Disclaimer: This transcript is using AI technology. Please excuse any errors.)
Welcome to this special Writing Bravely podcast series where we write our way through to the other side. I'm your host, Dr. Adina Silvestri join me here and at writing bravely.com to talk about how a creative act like writing can move us through the healing process.
Adina Silvestri 0:24
Hola all and welcome to episode seven of the writing bravely podcast series. And today, we are going to round up the series by talking about the power of writing. Can a creative act like writing move us through the healing process? And this episodes quote is,creativity is a basic human response to trauma in a natural emergency defense system, Louis DiSalvo. So I thought today, we would spend some time talking about what writing can do for us why writing works? How writing in community can be beneficial. Some boundary stuff when you when you're thinking about writing and community, because who knows, maybe you want to start your own group. And then I'll talk a little bit at the end about my creative process. And you can definitely steal it. If it's something that speaks to you, or you can join my writing group, that's also something that speaks to you. Okay. Why writing why Adina have you spent the last seven episodes talking about writing? Well, I've said it before, guys, it's an accessible tool, it's free, it's a great tool to add to the toolbox. Maybe you do it before a therapy session. Maybe you do it in place of therapy session. Let's just dive right in. This kind of writing this expressive writing, it's very detailed writing. So it not only helps us process what we've been through. But it also can assist us in envisioning a path forward. And so, and one of the earlier episodes, and I'll link to it in the show notes, I talked about pivotal events, maybe it was episode one, I talked about pivotal events, and it can be anything, really it can be a divorce, how many rituals do we have around a divorce, that is a huge event in someone's life. And really, for some people being married is so tied to their identity, they don't know who they are without that person. It's a huge deal. You know, maybe it's a divorce, maybe it's a terminal illness. You know, perhaps it's a car crash, maybe it's, I mean, the list really can go on and on and on. So I don't want to spend too much time talking about pivotal events and, and what they can mean for us because they already because I've already covered it. But the thing that is damaging is when we keep it a secret, we don't want anybody know that we're struggling. So then we just ruminate about it and ruminate and ruminate, and it interrupts our sleep. We can't focus our memory declines, short term memory declines. And on and on and on. I mean, you know, the symptoms just keep piling on. And a lot of studies will say that after a traumatic event, if you hold that secret, you become quite ill, and I believe it. So writing helps us. And then sharing that Writing helps us to, you know, cross that one off the list. We're not hiding the secret anymore. It's not a secret anymore.
So writing has many physical and emotional benefits. It can lower our blood pressure, improve our sleep, strengthen our immune system. There are definitely studies on how writing has strengthened individual's immune system. I even glanced at one study that it Pennebaker did this one as well. Where he would prick individuals you They're inside their mouth or in their finger. And then they would write for 15 minutes or whatever heat however he designed that study at the time. And then he would evaluate them afterwards. And compared to the control group, the people that were prepped had amazing wound healing, like their wounds were healed. In an amazing rate, I don't remember the specifics. So that's just one study out of 1000s. It could also lead to reduction in stress, anxiety, depression. That makes sense, right? Guys holding on to those those toxic secrets, it can bring us better focus and clarity. Research suggests that trauma damages brain tissue. When people translate their emotional experience into words, they change the way it is organized in the brain. So let's look at Dr. James Pennebaker's work again, as I've stated in previous episodes, he really laid the groundwork for all the research that's out there right now for expressive writing. And we're looking at just what happens when somebody sits down to write why Adina? Are you saying that all these great physical and mental benefits are occurring? What's actually happening when I put pen to paper. So from what I've gleaned, so far, it sounds kind of simple, but it's also kind of profound to me. So when you sit down to write about your experience, your pivotal event, your trauma, whatever the thing is, it doesn't even have to be a trauma, it could just be a stressor, you're acknowledging that, yes, this happened to me. This event happened to me. Right, because it goes back to that, you know, secrets, holding secrets, thinking that if I tell what happened, I'm gonna be accepted or loved, or people will look differently at me and on and on. And on. Your shame was a pretty powerful emotion. So number one, you're just acknowledging that, yes, this happened to me, and it was a big event. Number two, you're putting a structure around this event, and you're organizing it, you're labeling what happened, along with feelings, and the emotions associated with it. So then, after you've labeled and organized this event, now you're looking for patterns. How is this event tied to other things in your life? So you're essentially meaning making. And this is when the cool thing starts. This is where this is the sauce. It's the Cascade is, is now you understand it better? Yeah. So you're writing it down, you're labeling it, you're organizing it, okay, yep, I understand this better. You're not constantly thinking about it. You're not constantly thinking about it. And if you're not constantly thinking about it, then you're sleeping better. And then if you're sleeping better, that improves everything, we know how important sleep is and improves your physical and mental health. You're not drinking as much you're not doing whatever it is you're doing to escape insearch addiction here. So you can see now, all of these, this cascade of all these things happen as soon as somebody sits down to write. And so that's what I mean by you have better physical and emotional health. And so as far as I can tell, regarding creative perimeters, if you're looking at big events, then it must contain this concrete, authentic, expressive detail. So you must link the feelings to events on the page.
And then you'll have this complex, coherent story that will have a beginning, middle and an end that seems to have the greatest impact. I could only link that to big events as far as stressors or you sort of small teas, small traumas. I didn't really see that. There were creative parameters in place. Only that you sit down and write So that brings us to writing and community. You know how I love community. And I believe that we all just have these beautiful, aching we so stories to tell. And I always think it's easier to share it via writing, you might be thinking that I'm nuts. What? Why is it easier to share, because then you're going to also know that you're not alone. Sort of like with mutual help meetings and AAA meetings, you're not going to have the same story, you're gonna have similar threads in between your story and others. And it also kind of gives you this hour or however many hours, the group is to sit down and have this focus attention on you. It's sort of like your secret, our, you can't fill it with other distracting things. And you set that time aside, because you're important. You're important. And when people listen to your story, they're really listening. Not like your spouse who's maybe trying to do a million other things. Or your best friend who's going through their own crisis, these people are really listening to you. You can see them laughing exam crying alongside you. And it's kind of like they're enveloping you into a big bear hug. telling you, this reading and community thing is awesome. When we hear other people share what they're going through, we feel brave. We feel their bravery, number one, but then it also kind of puts us into a position to where we think well, if they can share this, oh, my story isn't that bad, I can definitely share mine. And so vulnerability just begets vulnerability. And if you learn anything about writing and community, we learned it on the atheist and recovery podcast where I had Valley haggard on and she talked about these really cool brain chemicals that happen when we listen. And when we share and community. When we hear people share their vulnerable stories, we get an oxytocin release, also known as the love chemical. When we share own vulnerable stories and were listened to, we get a serotonin bump, also known as the happy chemical. So if we want to talk a little about confidentiality, most groups that I've been in, I know my group as well will also have a confidentiality clause that you have to agree to, you know that all the stories in that writing group stay in that writing group, you don't talk about them with anyone else. And I've never had an issue. I've never had an issue. So now, let's talk about how I will create my writing group and feel free to take page out of my book, if you want to start your own group. Please do give me some credit. And I'm just kidding. I will give prompts to whoever needs it. In my writing group, my writing bravely group, I will give you a prompt, we'll probably do two rounds in that first class, that first six week class. And I'll give you a prompt or two that you can write on and some people won't need one, some people will already know what they want to write about. And they'll take it and go with it. But I like prompts. So I'll give them for whoever needs it will write for 10 minutes, approximately two times per group. And then I'm gonna give a little strength base feedback at the end. And I might even open it up, depending on how big the group is, and might open it up to other people in the group if they want to also give feedback. And you can share as much or as little as you want. This is these are your stories. This is your group. And so maybe you just kind of don't want to dip your toes in the water the first couple of sessions.
Keep it pretty surfacey that's fine. Nobody's going to judge you. They know that's what I did. Or maybe you want to just jump off the diving board into the deep end. And that's also fine. As far as rituals go, I didn't see anything in the literature. But I've also haven't read all 2000 articles but but I haven't seen anything in the literature that talks about rituals. As a saying that, yes, this makes a significant impact in the treatment outcomes. So I think for now, I'll just say it's personal preference, if you want to light some candles if you want to have specific look to your writing area, and I think that that's really just going to be personal personal preference. Okay, well, I hope you enjoyed our power of writing can creative act like writing we wish to the healing process? I think it can guys, I think can I don't think that it is going to be I mean, it's a tool. It's a tool. It's not going to be life changing. Maybe it will be. Maybe it will be I think that my writing journey has been pretty life changing, but it doesn't have to be in an in everyone's experience is going to be different. So with that said, I hope you come to my writing group, and I hope you come and write with me. If you are interested, head over to writing bravely.com To learn more about writing with me and schedule a call to see if you might be a good fit, and the group is starting next month in fact. All right, guys, have a good one. Bye.
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“Creativity is a basic human response to trauma and a natural emergency defense system,”Louise DeSalvo
Welcome to today’s show!
I spend some time talking about what writing can do for us and why writing works. I talk about how writing in community can be beneficial and how I will structure my upcoming writing groups based on the literature and personal experience.
WHAT WE’LL LEARN
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