Ever heard about the power of confession? See how ‘confessing’ can relieve stress and improve immunity.
What is confession?
When we experience life’s big challenges, many of us tend to bottle-up (the technical word is ‘repress’) our feelings about it. In fact society often teaches us that confronting traumas requires us to be stoic and strong. Research however, proves what the Christian tradition has known and practiced for millenia!
What does research say about the power of confession
46 male and female students attending Southern Methodist University, USA were asked to participate in a week-long research study. They were split into 4 groups, for a writing exercise:
- Group 1 was asked to write continuously about the most upsetting or traumatic experience of their lives, whilst discussing their deepest thoughts and feelings about that experience.
- Group 2 was asked to write about the most traumatic event they could remember, but only with facts and not feelings.
- Group 3 was told to write about their worst trauma, but only the feelings it aroused, not the facts.
- Group 4 (the control group) was asked to write about trivial events.
Here are the research findings:
- Students who wrote about the facts and their feelings involved in past traumas experienced significant health benefits for the 6 months following the study.
- Some who only wrote about their feelings reported fewer symptoms of illness, but their overall health benefits were lower than the facts-and-feelings group.
- A few who only wrote about their trauma-related facts had the lowest health benefits.
- Interestingly, the control group only got sicker. They reported more illnesses and logged many more visits to the University’s Health Centre.
- Finally, it was noted that the winter months took their toll on everyone, except those who wrote about their facts and feelings.
- What feelings are you bottling-up/ holding-in, that you would benefit from sharing?
- And when was the last time you made a confession to a near and dear one, opening yourself up fully?
- J.W. Pennebaker and S. Beall (1986). Confronting a traumatic event: Toward an understanding of inhibition and disease. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 95, pp. 274-281.
- J.W. Pennebaker (1989). Confession, Inhibition, and Disease. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 22, pp. 212-244.