The Therapeutic Power of Listening and Speaking

By Troy Headrick

I’d like to do something a bit different in this blog.  It’ll start with me posting a fascinating TED Talk by Leon Berg.  The title of his presentation is “The Power of Listening:  An Ancient Practice for Our Future.”

By the way, before I tell you the true aim of this post, I’d like to mention that I discovered this TED Talk while I was doing research to put together a self-help group for “at risk” students at the college where I manage a writing center and mentor.  I wrote about the program that came out of that research here, in this piece.

My purpose is to start a discussion about this presentation.  There’s so much in it that needs to be thought about and talked about.  So let’s do that.  Let’s watch the video and then start a conversation about what Berg has to say…

Troy Headrick’s personal blog can be found at Thinker Boy:  Blog & Art.

 

43 thoughts on “The Therapeutic Power of Listening and Speaking

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  1. I absolutely love the quote he uses in his talk: “If you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what is within you will destroy you.” Just think about that. Things that go unspoken can (and often do) kill us. Giving voice to the unspoken is both liberating and life saving.

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    1. Troy, I love this quote also! You are exactly right, things that go unspoken often do kill us, and our relationships. Most people walk around all day venting but only to themselves, just adding fuel to the fire by generating and reinforcing the negative thoughts.

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  2. Before watching the video, here is my understanding.

    Firstly, I make a disclosure that I find myself “immune” to motivational speeches or alike therapies. My brain simply resists stating, “I want solution, not confession” etc.

    Therefore, I suppose, it is not the “speaking up” but the “discussion” that helps, even if it is with oneself. How ?

    Initially, a statement-1 disturbs the person. Once let out, by the art of conversation, it is followed by a spontaneous stmt-2 that is derived from former, as if chalking out a problem sum on board, which thus gradually breaks down into digestive forms, eventually becoming “solvable”, as the brain subconsciously goes into a self-psycho-analytic mode.

    Other probable reason is companionship, where compassion by others soothes the pain, or atleast a recognition that others are also suffering similarly, suggests a normalcy. Even when true solution is not found, the method works because brain reacts hyperactively only w.r.t. deviation from normal.

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    1. If “discussion” is what you’re into, then Berg’s talk is for you. Have you had a chance to watch it yet? He actually gives an example of how sharing one’s experiences can have profound healing effects. Thanks for commenting. I can always count on you to be engaged!

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      1. Of course, I have listened to it then, but some hours later. Yes, a thinker as you are, can count me in conversation. 😊

        Following are what held on to my attention.

        (1) It’s very engaging means to bring surroundings into a presentation, as the speaker begins with “auditorium” in an auditorium !

        (2) The talking piece, though petty it may look, is very significant as it makes the audience to “focus” at one, a home-made substitute of cynosure – stage.

        (3) Yes, it is VERY crucial to “listen” to one’s partner, in any relationship. That’s very human.

        (4) The speaker gradually built the ground to show the most critical part at the last where he aptly used the word, “vulnerability” at which juncture, the listening turns into heart thinking, with a possible ability of healing. It is just the beginning of impacts.

        However, I admit, I am yet to grasp the term ’emotional intelligence’ though heard it several times earlier.

        I’d like to add here one word to elaborate, the essence of this TedTalk viz. “heart thinking” –
        “connection”.

        (5) Lastly, I just love the reference to Obama’s speech, a very powerful thought and very aligned with mine – an article that coincidentally came up, only recently as this post, on a similar tone –
        https://thelinearlearner.wordpress.com/2019/09/02/11-what-can-we-expect-from-globalism/

        The peace we seek is truly global when it is beyond a contract between governments and extends to a relation between the people of nations.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m hoping more folks chime in after watching the video. I sometimes fear that we’re living in a tribal age and therefore only talk to those who are members of our tribe or have closed our ears (and minds) when those on the other side speak. This video teachers us how to get past tribalism and nativism and to listen with our “hearts” as Berg puts it. Thanks for participating.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I was referring to various applications of heart thinking that he mentioned in the session.

        Oh, I detailed 4-5 highlights of his speech earlier, that I don’t see here, perhaps went to spam !

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  3. Thanks to all those who’ve liked and commented on this blog. If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend that you watch the TED Talk by Leon Berg. It’s so full of little nuggets of wisdom. We can all learn something by what he has to say.

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  4. Late to the party – my apologies.
    I believe head thinking to be only the “rational” or self preservation. “Oh, I can’t possibly help this person, I’ve got my own needs to attend to.” And, to be fair, there does need to be a level of selfishness to get through life. it may not be pretty but it’s a fact. However…
    Dunne, wasn’t it? said “No man is an island” – and if you isolate yourself to the point where you have no tribe, no community, no communications other than whatever spills from your mouth… You’ve lost a tremendous amount of humanity. Having common and experiences is what brings people together – good heavens, look at the effort that goes into the Cons, so that people with a particular interest can talk, and listen and interact.
    I recently sat with a girl in my class, and we did some “tutoring” – the quotes are mine because I screwed some stuff up. However, listening to her, listening to another campus member, sitting and just letting them tell me what they needed to say – that was a gift to me. No agenda. No bashing. Just “Hey, I get what you’re saying.” Will I be best friends with these people. No. But I respect what they’re doing, and why.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and story, Liz. I always appreciate your comments so much. I think, in some very important ways, we live The Age of Ego. In such an era, people prefer speaking to listening because we all feel like we have important things to say that everyone should hear. I am guilty of this myself. The fact that I blog for PO, shows that I am egotistical. The Stoics and Buddhists and others have warned us about the dangers of being egocentric. Listening in a method we can use to humble the self. We turn our mouths off (like turning ego off) and turn our ears on (again, like turning the ego off). That’s one of the reasons I like the Berg talk so much. He’s talking about culture when he talks about our needs to speak and listen.

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  5. I remember two things from the video. One was it reminded me of an experience in my youth when I really did sit around a campfire and talk/tell stories. You never feel more part of a group than in a group like that. The other thing was I’ve learned these past few years that health actually does relate to what you hold in, how you listen, and what you say (or HOW you say it because you can even be super ticked off and not be cruel when you express your anger).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi and thanks for the comment. Have you ever noticed that there’s this palpable feeling of relief that comes when you confess some secret that has long bothered you and that is associated, in some form or fashion, with a sense of shame or guilt? This feeling is a very strong indicator that those things which go unspoken can really weigh on a person. The old saying “misery loves company” also suggests that sharing one’s burdens with others can have this profoundly powerful cathartic effect. If you’d like to know more about how I practically put these psychological principles into effect, check out this blog I wrote months ago: https://pointlessoverthinking.com/2019/04/12/come-as-you-are/.

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  6. Hi and thanks for the comment. Have you ever noticed that there’s this palpable feeling of relief that comes when you confess some secret that has long bothered you and that is associated, in some form or fashion, with a sense of shame or guilt? This feeling is a very strong indicator that those things which go unspoken can really weigh on a person. The old saying “misery loves company” also suggests that sharing one’s burdens with others can have this profoundly powerful cathartic effect. If you’d like to know more about how I practically put these psychological principles into effect, check out this blog I wrote months ago: https://pointlessoverthinking.com/2019/04/12/come-as-you-are/.

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    1. You are welcome. Thanks for the comment. Speaking seems a bit more egocentric; whereas, listening is more altruistic. You’re referring to a “spiritual tradition” in your comment. What spiritual tradition do you come from?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, hearing and listening are different. And because I’m such an opinionated person, I have to really fight against the impulse to start preparing my response to something I’m listening to while the speaker is still talking. That’s not real listening. Listening is something I have to work on with myself a lot. Thanks for the comment.

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    1. I’m sorry that I’m just seeing this now. I get so many comments here that one occasionally falls through the cracks. I want to thank you so much for this! I’ll look at the award requirements today.

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  7. A very late reply to a wonderful TED talk and your comments. You asked about the difference between head-thinking and heart-thinking. I would suggest that thinking from our heads becomes analytical and often ‘me’ thinking/responding. Thinking from the heart allows for the connection between all things. So the response is often more compassionate, altruistic due to the understanding that the reply will affect the community of One/the All.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s an interesting take on those two different types of thinking. I tend to be pretty analytical in my way of living. I often have to remind myself to let my heart “speak” because my head predominates. it’s interesting that I said “let my heart speak.” Is there something more “verbal” about heart thinking? Good question. You’ve prompted me to think more about this. Thanks so much for your interesting and insightful comment.

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  8. The words of my truth will no longer remain silent. I am speaking representing “We the people”. I am not afraid and in so doing those very words set my spirit free. And hopefully those I speak them to will THINK to see straight. I speak from my heart ….. and believe me, I either scare people or I attract them like magnets. I’ve learned to live life from the heart ….. and yes I do have intelligence that I use as well. Great post! Thank you! xo

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