Circles: good for your health

The group’s silent positive judgment became the source of the talker’s power.

– Teodros Kiros

Yesterday we had a Talking Circle – Tuesdays 2pm – and a heady 12 participated. Some spoke a lot, some were silent. The choice was with whoever held the talking stick. Positives and negatives were expressed. The journey to self awareness, repair and love were dominant themes. Active listening was also an essential element in the dynamic that the Circle needed to function. Speakers needed the space, and power, to speak.

This power is important because we all have the need to feel validated and listened to, to be understood. Everybody reacts positively to feeling respected and offered power. We feel happy and content in the embrace of the group, this is the group saying, “Hey, you are important to us, so important we’ll give you some of our power, the power to participate in our activities and gatherings and we wish you to express and share your own unique talents, experiences and insights to add to our lives” – this can be one of the most important and fulfilling . Alternatively being invalidated – ignored or discriminated – causes our neurology to turn to a negative course and feeling, frankly, shit.
Giving and allowing others the power to express their feelings, thoughts and emotions can be a liberating and affirmative action for them. It can allow space for understanding, mutuality, intimacy and a whole flood of possibilities. It can also be a negative experience where preconceived expectations are confirmed and reinforced and new ones formulated allowing us a smug, short lived and ultimately unsatisfying pleasure. The choice, to a degree, is ours to how we listen, and how we feel about the orator. Do we listen to grow in understanding how the speaker got to where they are in the here and now, with all their joys and sorrows, achievements and failures. Or do we use their utterances to construct a bigger wall between us and them? Which feels the better to do? Why? Can we change? Do we want to?
Finally, as the insider, and thus privileged, we should forget at our cost that we too were an outsider and are most definitely destined to be one again. Remember then how we felt and give the girl a break should one day we be invalidated and the same fate, as it surely will, await us.
These and other questions and affirmations are discussed in the 2pm Talking Circle. All welcome.