Well, it might not specifically be Step work, but therapeutic writing has been proven to have health benefits. That is no surprise. What is surprising, though, is that therapeutic writing can have physical benefits as well.
Those who have had traumatic sexual experiences early in life often suffer from high blood pressure, as well as an increased risk of cancer. Sharing about those experiences, however, can significantly reduce that risk—especially if such incidents were a secret. In fact, elderly persons who performed therapeutic writing two weeks before having a skin biopsy healed twice as fast as those who had not.
In essence, taking a personal inventory is the full overhaul of a person’s inner self—the granddaddy of therapeutic writing. Regardless of why this type of writing is so effective, the fact remains: Step work will positively impact spiritual, mental, and physical aspects of a person’s life.
So, why is there often resistance to Step work?
For one, Step work is exercise for the spirit. Just as many are not inclined to do physical exercise, many also do not feel the drive to participate in spiritual or mental exercise, either. That is not a judgment; like with physical exercise, there are a lot of people who do not see the benefits for the work they do versus the return until they are in enough pain or fear of pain.
Paradoxically, therapeutic writing is often a painful experience in itself. However, the risks and consequences for addicts and alcoholics are far greater for not doing the work than they are for enduring the temporary discomfort. For this writing to be most effective, research also shows the importance of doing the work as it is outlined in the appropriate texts: for oneself and shared with another person.
Social media is the double-edged sword in that equation. On one hand, posting on a heartfelt blog can be beneficial in controlled environments—especially if support systems are lacking. On the other hand, some question has arisen as to whether or not consistent purging of the most secretive details of a person’s life to a wide audience dilutes the efficacy of such writings.
In either event, researchers have also shown that staying active and participating in the lives of others—“service work” or “getting out of our heads”—is among the best ways of combatting negative emotions that ultimately harm us. When our sponsors tell us to do The Work, they are not sadists—they are saviors.
Regardless, by sharing the deepest, darkest parts of our pasts—face-to-face—with a person we can trust now has scientific proof to back the results we as addicts and alcoholics have had all along. By helping others, we help ourselves. We stand to live longer, healthier, happier lives. There used to be a saying, “We are only as sick as our secrets.” Now, there is finally something to back that up.