The ‘need-fear’ dilemma is something known by psychologists and mental health practitioners as an odd and somewhat curious problem. Basically put, this dilemma suggests a person will have a coinciding need for the very thing they often fear. This holds true in so many aspects of life but can be clearly seen in our universal desire to maintain carefully constructed images of ourselves we believe are socially acceptable.
However, finding the courage to tell our true stories, sharing our authentic struggles and owning our perceived imperfections is the very thing most needed for our individual and collective healing.
There are several profound reasons to embrace the vulnerability associated with sharing your story but before we dive into those, let me bore you with some brain chemistry. Interestingly, recent studies indicate brain chemistry begins to change through open sharing as the effects of stress hormones associated with shame, guilt and the feeling of isolation lessen. As Paul Zak, PhD in nueroeconomist, referencing a 2017 Frontiers In Immunology Review suggests, “the brain is prompted to secrete oxytocin, a neurochemical known for its ability to promote bonding.” Practically speaking, the study goes on to show physical health benefits of sharing your story include a decrease in blood pressure, an ease of gastrointestinal distress as well as possibly lowered inflammation and antibiotic like effects that promote wound healing. It turns out the feeling of catharsis gives you more then just warm fuzzies, there may actually be some physical benefits to being vulnerable!
Now that we got some of the recent research out of the way, lets dive into a few of the reasons sharing your story can have psychological benefits.
First, sharing your story allows you to reflect on the experiences you have been through while in some cases being a few steps removed from the intensity of the emotion associated with the situation. Often when in the midst of trauma, pain and even excitement at an intense level, our brains experience what is referred to as an “amygdala hijack.” This response in stressful and dynamic situations is caused when stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline are released, as our brain perceives we are in fight or flight. In essence your rational mind turns off and is hijacked by your brains perception that you need to react to a stimulus in short order to survive.
Often as we reflect on our journey when the wounds aren’t so fresh we can begin to assign meaning and find courage in our resilience.
If, however, we are in the midst of the intense pain, sharing it can be the hopeful spark we need to know we are not alone.
Secondly, sharing your story can gives you a sense of ownership, closure and a recognition that although things happen which are out of our control, we have the ability to choose our response moving forward. By owning our response we take back control and simultaneously move from victim to overcomer. At Band Together we believe inherent in each of us is the capacity to overcome. It is the reason we have 3 white beads at the center of every bracelet we sell. It is also reminder the Band Together community is part of your 3-cord support strand that is not easily broken. As we share, wear and connect we can all overcome!
Next, sharing your story has the ability to inspire others who are on their own journey. Reading through the stories posted on our anonymous sharing page I am personally inspired by the resilience, strength and courage that resonates from each individual story. The human experience can be challenging to say the least, but I believe our greatest victories and most inspiring triumphs are forged through pain, struggle and adversity. Your humanity in the face of life’s greatest challenges deserves to be respected, honored and celebrated as a community.
Lastly, sharing your story and finding inspiration from others helps each of us find our voice. I believe it is a great mistake to submit to the belief that others do not care what you have to say. We want this place to be safe for you to share, free from judgment, guilt, shame and the fear of rejection. You have a voice and a unique spot in our community.
So where have you been and what have you learned? How has mental health affected you or your family? What is important to you? How has your story shaped you as a person? What specific events, situations, struggles and traumas have you endured and how has it affected you? Where have you drawn your strength in the difficult times? Your story is worth sharing.
“Gaining knowledge is the first step to wisdom, sharing it is the first step to humanity.”Author Unknown