Once we pulled the trigger on developing the app, it came down to three basic ideas.
First, almost everyone (including each of us: eating disorders, insecurities, secret desires) who deals with a big problem or an inner demon believes they're alone in their problem, and that either no one will understand or no one wants to hear about it.
Second, almost everyone deals with this paradox--we wish we could talk about our big problems, but worry they are too embarrassing, too bad, or otherwise too unique to say out loud.
Lastly, when we finally do talk about our big problems, we experience a revelation. We find out we're one among many with the same problem. Our problems are not too bad or embarrassing. And of the greatest potential, we can experience relief.
When you post a story on WAIL, you first choose one of six categories to post under (Addiction, Shame, Fear, Lies, Regret & Guilt, and Pain & Illness). Why do that?
The mission of WAIL is to prove we're not alone, which the primary usage of the app does when you post your story and other users click "me too" or "support." The categories, likewise, further that mission. Specifically, there's a small reason and a larger one why categories as bringing people together.
The small one is that you can immediately see on your main feed screen which stories are similar to your burdens. The big reason is WAIL is not stopping with stories and interaction with those stories. We will also be periodically posting broad reports through the main feed on WAIL further showing no one is alone in their burdens,
Wail is completely anonymous. Nothing identifying is required, only a made-up username, password, age, and gender. Other information which is optional is also non-identifying--marital status, occupation, race. We hope you share this information so that WAIL can further its mission to prove none of us are alone in our problems.
We use the same platforms as large apps like Uber, which handle much more sensitive information than we do. These are very secure and very private platforms. So, even though no identifying information is stored, what information is collected is very secure.
As far as the community within the app, you control who can comment on your posts, or if you even want comments on your post. And if for some reason you do receive a comment from an unempathetic person, you can remove it immediately.
We all have crap in our lives. With some of it, we're too embarrassed or ashamed to tell any one.
With that stuff, we need a place to unload it, to talk about it, to bellow our burdens with cathartic volume. It's why best friends, psychologists, and blog readers are in such high demand. There also happens to be a slew of psychology on not suppressing your inner demons, but rather disclosing them somewhere (check the blog)
Our heaviest burdens, however, are more intimidating to confess. They yell at us and beat us into silence. We ask ourselves, "will anyone understand this?" And we invite the misery of suppression by answering, "definitely not."
For our heaviest burdens, just getting them voiced out loud is a monumental and cathartic achievement. But why?
Our human experiment with Wail is to give people (including myself), a place to unload our heaviest burdens, through which we hope to prove no one is alone in them. When we're waist deep in life's muck, Wail will show us we're wading alongside people just like us. Wail gives us a safe, anonymous place to cry out. It gives us proof we're not alone.
The following article can be found at http://www.timigustafson.com/2014/bottling-negative-emotions-can-just-harmful-acting/:
Having been born and raised in England, I am intimately familiar with the habit of keeping a “stiff upper lip.” As a cultural phenomenon, this means that emotions – positive or negative – are not readily expressed, at least not in public. Some may take this as good manners, others as signs of rigidity and unnatural restraint. In any case, researchers warn that perpetual emotional suppression is nothing benign but can lead to potentially serious mental and physical health problems and even premature death.
Cultural Norms and Expectations Can Put Limits
On How We Meet Our Emotional Needs
One study conducted by psychologists from Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester found that suppressing emotions may increase the risk of dying from heart disease and certain forms of cancer. This confirms earlier studies that have linked negative emotions like anger, anxiety, and depression to the development of heart disease.
The health risks increase, it seems, when people have no way of expressing or acting on their feelings, the researchers say. We know that stress can build up and become chronic when our “natural” fight-or-flight responses meant to help us survive in conflictous situations are frustrated. Similarly detrimental effects may occur when negative emotions remain unexpressed.
Some experts suggest that acknowledging emotions, especially distressing ones, and airing them from time to time is an important component of mental health.
In our culture, people quickly feel guilty or ashamed when they appear as being overly negative or critical, says Tori Rodriguez, a psychotherapist and writer based in Atlanta. We are biased toward positive thinking, which is worth cultivating, but problems arise when people start believing they must be upbeat all the time, she says.
“Anger and sadness are an important part of life, and new research shows that experiencing and accepting such emotions are vital to our mental health. Attempting to suppress thoughts can backfire and even diminish our sense of contentment. Acknowledging the complexity of life may be an especially fruitful path to psychological well-being.”
But how about positive emotions? Can they make us healthier? Yes, especially if we allow ourselves to express them, a separate study from Harvard found.
Individuals with great emotional vitality have a much lower risk of developing heart disease compared to the less emotionally expressive, according to Dr. Laura Kubzansky, a professor of human health and development at Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of the study report. There are mechanisms at play we don’t fully understand yet, she says, but there is evidence that positive emotions can provide some sort of “restorative biology.”
Obviously, neither positive nor negative feelings arise in a vacuum. An essential part of emotional well-being is our ability to create and maintain a conducive environment where our various needs are satisfied and our bodies, minds and souls are nourished. Not all, but a great deal of that is within our control and can benefit from our care. That in itself should give us cause to feel better.