This world is getting better and better, worse and worse, faster and faster than ever before.
Our mental well-being is under threat and unless we learn to master a brain that is not designed for today; we could all be in serious trouble.
One in four people around the globe will experience some form of mental illness every year. The cost to our planet hits the trillion mark annually and with around 450 million people currently suffering with mental health related conditions it is one of the leading burdens to our healthcare system. Yet, according to the World Health Organisation, nearly two thirds of people never seek help, as the stigma that still exists around the illness is very much alive and kicking.
There are many reasons for this epidemic taking grip but one that is deeply evident is the demise of face-to-face conversation.
Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers opens with the story of a community, the Rosetans of Roseto, Penn., that seem to be vastly healthier and happier than their neighbours. Studies revealed that what made them so healthy and happy wasn’t down to food, exercise or wealth. It was the quality of their social network. They talked to people in their community every day. It was part of their day to day living; they had better lives because they took the time to talk and to listen.
Our individualistic and technology driven landscape, exciting as it is, means we don’t talk as often. Not to real people. And the lack of, is ultimately having a detrimental effect upon our mental wellbeing.
Phones dominate our world. According to the Millennial Generation Research Review, 80% of us even sleep with them. Yet so many of us don’t use them as a traditional ‘telephone’, the instrument that Alexander Graham Bell pioneered. We text or e mail to fit into our ‘busy’ schedules. According to the Wall Street Journal in 2013, millennials see the phone as “an interruption” — picking up the phone “without emailing first can make it seem as though you’re prioritizing your needs over theirs.”
MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle researches into the effects texting has on interpersonal development. Americans aged 18-29 send on average 88 text messages a day. Turkle believes that having a conversation with somebody else in real time teaches children to reason, self-reflect and problem solve. “That particular skill is a bedrock of development,”
“I talk to kids and they describe their fear of conversation,” says Turkle. “An 18-year-old I interviewed recently said, ‘Someday, but certainly not now, I want to learn to have a conversation.'”
If we don’t talk, we are essentially alone and loneliness has been proven time and again to make us unhappy. At any given time, more than one in five Americans will report that they have feelings of loneliness. A recent Finnish study showed that people of working age who live alone increase their risk of depression by up to 80%. We have lost our shine.
‘Talk It Out’ is a super simple, free, fun, fast, human exercise I created a number of years ago. I am not a mental health professional. I have simply learnt what works through the experience of training many folk around the world. I also don’t claim it to be the finite answer to the complex mental health problem. What I do know is that it can help our mental wellbeing. Lots.
Why Talk it Out?
We know how to look after our bodies by eating well and exercising, yet very few of us invest in looking after our minds.
Our brain is a muscle, like any others in our body, that needs to be taken care of.
Talk it Out gives us the space to do just that.
It is the fastest way to process complex situations and gain clarity, energy and inspiration and release our bottled-up emotions.
When we walk and talk, we access more of our subconscious and therefore much of our unseen challenges, frustrations and untapped passions come out into the light of day from the shadows of our more unconscious processing. For every opportunity that we have, we have a story. The story is our take on a situation, the one we keep coming back to time and time again. The one that keeps us stuck in today.
Just by sharing in a stream of consciousness we can change our whole relationship with what has literally been “on our minds”
How to Talk it Out.
Find a place to meet where you can walk easily and safely. Set up expectations around confidentiality and having an open mind.
Pair up (one of you is A and the other, imaginatively is B!)
Person A talks at person B, uncensored and constantly at person B about an issue they face or life in general. It doesn’t matter what you say, nor does it need to make sense. Walk at the same time.
Do this for 20 minutes.
Person B listens actively, encouraging Person A to keep going but doesn’t talk – just listens regardless of what they say.
Note – Active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening – it’s cues like ‘Yes’ “Hmmm’ or nodding your head or using eye movement
Person B listens for changes in the energy of person A.
After 20 mins just spend a few minutes landing where they’ve got to. Nice chat to have.
You can do a mini warm up session of 2 mins each way to get people into the flow.
Research with Bristol University in the UK found that 85% of people felt better after Talk it Out. Give it a try and see how you feel.
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