Psychotherapy has been called “The Talking Cure.”
It might be more accurate to call it “The Listening Cure.”
Being listened to is healing, because it’s a way to be understood.
And being understood is like a tall, cool drink on a hot summer day.
Marriage & family therapist Cynthia Lubox speaks eloquently about the power of being listened to in this article:
The key word in the title above is “Really.” As in, when someone really listens…
We don’t heal just by having someone hear our words. We heal when we feel truly and deeply heard.
A True Friend Hears What You Don’t Say
I once had a powerful experience of being heard, where I didn’t have to say a word.
It happened at, of all places, a bachelorette party.
It was the beginning of the evening, and we were all sitting down to dine at a restaurant. The atmosphere was noisy and chaotic.
I don’t remember the details, but maybe I was subtly ignored or dissed by one of the other women as we were taking our seats. Whatever it was, I was shocked and humiliated.
I remember feeling stung but assuming no one else noticed — there were many conversations going on at the same time.
Suddenly I heard a whisper in my ear. It was the voice of a good friend, who’d seated herself beside me.
“I’m totally with you,” she said.
I turned and looked her in the eye, and saw that she had heard my silent scream of “Ouch!”
She’d noticed what had happened between the other woman and me, and with a look she told me what she thought of the woman’s behavior.
I was instantly cured of what ailed me. In that moment, my feelings had been heard even though I hadn’t uttered a word.
It meant so much to me to be “heard” in that moment, I felt 100% better. My friend’s empathy removed the thorn and put on a soothing bandage of validation.
You can make a huge difference to someone just by listening to them, and understanding their experience. It’s an incredibly bonding thing to do, so it helps you as well as them.
Let’s all try to be there for someone we care about this week. Or maybe for someone we barely know.
When you see someone in distress, let them know you understand.
Listen to them, even if they don’t say a word.
Let me know how it goes.